The Times West Virginian

Features

April 27, 2006

‘A Taste of Heaven’

(Continued)

FAIRMONT —

“(And) they’re going like crazy. They’re really selling. ”

For Offutt, she’s not just worked with cancer patients, but she’s had some personal family experience with the disease.

“It hit home a couple years ago when my aunt got diagnosed with cancer, and she’s since passed away in January,” she said. “So that’s the reason I got involved because of her mostly. ... She fought a really hard fight.”

Her mother is a skin cancer survivor and her father had prostate cancer. One of the recipes she submitted was one of her late father’s most famous recipes: “Mice Cookies.” It involves dipping cherries in chocolate, placing them flat on a chocolate cookie, pressing a Hershey kiss on front of the cherry and using chocolate to hold Red Hots in place for eyes. Offutt remembers her father used to give those out to the people he’d meet.

“He loved anything surprising like those mice. ... He loved anything funny or anything the was out of the ordinary,” she said.

Martha Sweet, RN, who works on the FGH outpatient oncology unit, said many of the recipes she included in the cookbook she gathered were from the patients. One of Sweet’s favorites is Vonda’s Pickled Eggs. Vonda was a patient at the hospital and later passed away from cancer.

“They (patients) like to cook,” Sweet said. “It’s their life-long hobby, and they’ll share recipes while they’re getting their treatments. It’s something to pass the time and talk about something they enjoy. And some of the them have brought their recipes in to us.”

Working on the 3B and outpatient oncology units, it’s emotional to see people go through cancer.

“You just get attached to them, and you just try to give them the best care that you can for the time that they have,” Offutt said. “If they want to cry, you let them and try to cry with them and talk to them. And you get emotionally involved with the patient and the family.”

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    She remembers baking things like a pistachio dessert or fudge.

    “What he really liked was my peanut butter fudge,” Riley said. “And when you have a child taking chemotherapy and radiation, you’ll give them anything. And just a little piece of candy just meant the world to him.

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