Cookery class offers support for Llangollen cancer patients

A group of male cancer patients joined forces in the kitchen to help with their recovery journey.

The ‘Come and Cook’ group based in Llangollen have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen learning how to make healthy curries, salads and pasta dishes that will help them get all the nutrition they need during the challenges they face recovering from cancer.

They also receive nutrition lessons during the cooking sessions where they learn about different aspects of food and nutrition and what types of food will benefit them most.

The group have been taught to cook by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board dietitians and Senior Macmillan Information and Support officer Pam Wedley helped secure funding for the course. The course is an accredited course in partnership with Nutrition Skills for Life and Adult Learning Wales.

Former Wales, Wrexham and Everton Goalkeeper Dai Davies attended the course to help him understand how good nutrition can aid his recovery from prostate cancer.

“I had my prostate removed and I’m having more treatment at the moment. I found out about this course through the prostate cancer support group I go to in Llangollen.

“It’s excellent. The camaraderie is fantastic. It’s been fascinating. We have done loads of things like pasta bakes and reduced sugar biscuits. I’m diabetic too so the more knowledge and wisdom you have about how to look after yourself the better.

“You can control your condition but it has been a challenge managing the two conditions of the diabetes and cancer. Rather than letting it ruin your life it’s about getting a quality of life back and managing the ill effects of treatment.

Malcolm Beer who has been suffering with oesophageal cancer said the course helped him put his life back together after cancer ‘turned his life upside down’.

Malcolm can no longer eat large pieces of food because of the operation he had to remove the cancer and so getting his daily calorie needs has been a challenge.

He said, “This course is of such benefit to me because keeping weight on is such a challenge, I am learning how to tailor make foods that are healthy but help me keep weight on.

“I feel like I’ve really benefited from it and it’s pitched at just the right level. I’ve cooked before throughout my life but never like this.

“My wife is amazed by my progress. She loves the food I’ve been cooking, and it’s given me something to do and helped me use my time effectively.

“I can’t say enough good things about this course, it’s great because we have been cooking foods that are all available easily.

“It has helped with my health and recovery. I don’t buy ready meals anymore, I make everything from scratch. My world was turned upside down by cancer but this course has really helped me in the process of putting it back together.

“I now want to do more cooking courses after this one finishes and I’m looking for good course to do.”

Dietitian and Health Improvement Practitioner, Sarah Powell-Jones who led the teaching about nutrition on the 7 week course said, “The group started from a prostate cancer support group that meet in Llangollen but we have men who have been affected by different types of cancer here.

“They are at all different stages of their cancer and so the course was tailored to the differing challenges they face.

“This course really is in line with the Health Board’s values – putting people first is at the heart of what we do. We asked the patients what they wanted and they told us. We are really grateful to Macmillan and the Shooting Star Ward via Awyr Las for the funding to run it.”

Senior Macmillan worker Pam Wedley said, “It’s about building relationships with people they’ve not met before. In this group we have some patients with oesophageal cancer and the rest have prostate cancer.

“With oesophageal cancer the effects of the treatment can be severe and can make swallowing and eating very difficult.

“We adapted the course to suit each patient, for example the men with oesophageal cancer have learnt how to make certain recipes that are easy to eat and swallow and are calorie rich but healthy because they can struggle to take the right amount of calories on board. It’s brilliant to see them enjoying learning and also being with each other.”

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