As the end of 2012 rapidly approaches, I have been thinking about the past year’s accomplishments and progress as well as the incredible support and positive feedback that we have received. I am humbled daily by our patients’ and caregivers’ stories and their unwavering optimism and commitment to their battle with cancer. I created Meals to Heal with the mission of making it easier and less stressful to ensure proper nutrition before, during and after treatment. It is this goal that has motivated and inspired me every day. I believe that we are making it a reality by listening to what our customers say and proactively developing programs and services that meet their unique needs.
At this time last year, I was not sure that Meals to Heal would be a reality. Like any new business, we had run into some very large roadblocks that seemed insurmountable. My persistence and positive attitude were put to the test. But my passion for helping cancer patients and caregivers with their nutritional needs and belief in the benefit of proper nutrition for cancer patients was unwavering propelling me onward and, finally, we were able to find a way around the roadblocks. (Lessons learned – never give up and live your life with passion.)
It amazes me that it was only May when we launched our first pilot program with the Radiation Treatment Center of Beverly Hills, part of the Vantage Oncology network of over 50 nationwide oncology clinics. Its success led to our expansion into other Vantage Oncology Centers. We are also working with other highly respected cancer treatment centers and look forward to continuing to expand these relationships.
So many people have been generous with their input and feedback and, as a result, over the summer we added new meal programs including a ten meal sample pack as well as seven and ten lunch/dinner entrée options. Despite the fact that many cancer patients lose weight, many breast cancer patients shared with us their daily struggles with weight gain. As a result, in October, we launched a comprehensive Breast Cancer Survivor Program which includes portion-controlled meals as well as educational content and counseling sessions with one of our five oncology-specialized dietitians. We look forward to receiving more input in 2013 and further refining our service offering.
We were also asked by a highly regarded cancer treatment center to participate in a clinical trial. The goal of the trial is to show empirically the impact proper nutrition can have on cancer patients. Enrollment begins in 2013.
The year 2012 also brought some terrific new employees to Meals to Heal’s world class customer service team. We now have five oncology registered dietitians and one oncology certified nurse helping customers order meals and manage their nutritional issues.
The year 2012 also brought additional members to our terrific Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board. Their input is invaluable.
As I look forward into 2013, my goal is to ensure that more cancer patients have a cancer fighting diet and nutrition support action plan as part of their comprehensive care program. Part of this goal involves further enhancing our service offering. In particular, our goal is to offer home meal delivery alternatives that meet the varied needs of patients and caregivers. I also want to continue to add more evidence-based information to our website to empower patients and caregivers with important information on cancer nutrition, botanicals and supplements, physical activity and other strategies that provide greater control over one’s life. Because dietetic counseling is such an important component of a comprehensive oncology nutrition program, another objective is to further facilitate patient and caregiver access to oncology-trained dietitians. The 2013 Meals to Heal cancer fighting action plan includes fresh, customized meals to prevent weight loss and support and strengthen the immune system as well as information and resources to empower patients in their battle.
Finally, I want to acknowledge my dear, brave friend Eric who I lost to a brain tumor four years ago. It is Eric who first made me aware of the nutritional needs of cancer patients. It is Eric and those like Eric and his caregivers who inspire me each and every day. Our customers are all “Erics” and everyone at Meals to Heal is committed to ensuring they receive proper nutrition and are empowered in their fight. We enter 2013 with this unwavering commitment.