Six years ago at exactly this time, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
It was a few days before Passover and I will never forget that time. Waiting for the biopsy results was the worst week of my life. Not knowing how bad my cancer was and whether I was going to live to see my 4 children’s futures. It was awful but luckily my diagnosis came and it was early stage Breast Cancer. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction (hello Angelina Jolie! I was before your time!) and then six weeks of radiation. Today, I am happy to say I am a survivor!During this time, I was so fortunate to have the support of my wonderful family and friends. My amazing friends were quick to rally around me. They were so supportive and helpful and one of the most amazing things that they did for me was to take care of my family.
Carpools, play dates, grocery orders were among many of the things they did for me, but cooking and delivering hot dinners to my home was one of the most touching of all.
My kids loved when the doorbell rang and different hot foods arrived: soups, chicken, potatoes, cakes; muffins etc came to the door. It was not only the food, but also the experience of being thought about and cared for. Coincidentally, a couple of years later, a dear friend of mine (who I later married!), approached me and asked if I wanted to be involved in a relatively new program of Hope and Cope at the Jewish General Hospital Segal Cancer Center. This initiative is called En Famille and is dedicated to offering professional support and resources for young families living with cancer. Its primary goal is to help meet the needs of parents diagnosed with cancer.
Through non-bureaucratic direct aid, En Famille provides parents with the tools, information and support to help manage the impact of cancer on their lives and especially on the lives of their children.
This amazing program was started with four very wise men who saw this need. It began with an illustrated children’s book called “When Daddy Got Sick” by Eric Gralnick. This book was written and published by these four men to help parents talk about cancer and death with their young children. They then went on to publish a resource manual that is given out to new cancer patients at the JGH. This is how En Famille started taking shape four years ago. Today it continues on with force. About a year into this program, my husband contacted me asking if I wanted to spearhead a new initiative within En Famille. He had this wonderful idea!
For this new initiative, we would cook and distribute homemade meals to the needy families of cancer patients.
What an offer! Not only was my passion baking and cooking, I was already busy mentoring new breast cancer patients with decisions about mastectomies, radiation, medications, doctors and so on. This initiative was the perfect fit for me! We started off slowly; I made a pot of chicken soup, lasagna and muffins in my home. I packaged it with stickers and Halloween candy and delivered it to one, among many, very needy families stricken with cancer. It was a huge success! The family was thrilled and was brought to tears. I was invited in for tea and chips! I knew we had a great initiative on our hands. The boys and I put our heads together again and developed Kerry’s Kitchen further.
Three years later, we have a large team of wonderful volunteers who cook hot meals and deliver all over the island. We recently bought a freezer for the hospital where homemade meals are stored and handed out to needy patients after a day of exhausting treatments.
You can imagine how thrilled and ever grateful these people are. Kerry’s Kitchen was officially launched! In our first year of operation we delivered about two meals a week to people’s homes. We got tears, hugs, kisses and sweet demands to return. There were phone calls, thank you cards and more tears of how touched the families were. It wasn’t only about the food, it was about the visit. Many of us delivered with our children in tow and it was always such a wonderful experience. I can’t tell you how many times I was “blessed” with gifts, hugs, tears and kisses by these families. In 2013 we distributed 154 meals. In 2014, we provided 314 meals (for 83 patients) and so far in 2015, we have provided over 136 meals for 44 patients.
Our goal is to keep growing and deliver as many meals as we can!
And to meet this goal, we need your help! If you’re interested in cooking for a cause, please contact me at Kerrykaufman@videotron.ca or find us on Facebook. We’d love to add you to our team of dedicated volunteers!
About Kerry Kaufman- I am the mother of four incredible children. I am a Breast Cancer survivor and I am married to the most amazing and supportive husband who gave me 3 wonderful stepchildren. I have a Bachelors degree in Psychology from McGill and a second Bachelors degree from McGill in Elementary Education. I worked with intellectually handicapped children and taught for a brief time with pre-school children until I had children of my own when I became a stay-at-home-mom. I play competitive sports and I am the captain of a competitive tennis team in a Montreal League, I run Kerry’s Kitchen, I volunteer for CJA and I spend the rest of my time cooking, carpooling and caring for my very large family!