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"It sounds crazy, but cancer has made me a better chef."

By: Dr. Christopher Ho on December 27, 2013, 1:05 pm

As medical oncologists in West Hills and Tarzana, Dr. Shaye, Dr. Lashkari and I are often asked if we are aware of new and creative treatments for our patients. I think we pride ourselves in being classically trained hematologists and medical oncologists, with discipline and tradition instilled within us from our various backgrounds from UCLA, USC and the City of Hope. Yet, we take that training and allow ourselves to treat our patients creatively, taking into account their values and overall well-being. Perhaps it is this creativeness, and thinking "outside of the box" for our patients have us highly appreciative of the culinary and visual arts. Dr Lashkari is an unabashed fan of the cinema. Dr Shaye and I think that a great meal is one of life's little luxuries. 

That said, I wanted to share a story where the two worlds meet.  Grant Achatz is a award-winning chef who was previously at French Laundry and opened his own restaurant, Alinea in Chicago. Alinea is considered one of the best restaurants in North America. Mr Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. It goes without saying that the sense of taste is of great importance especially to a chef of his talent, but also his particular style of molecular gastronomy. He sought three different opinions, but it wasn't until he saw one of my colleagues and the team at the University of Chicago, that an "out of the box" solution became clear and most appropriate. His treatment is outlined in the two links below, but I think it demonstrates the modern state of cancer treatment today and the creative treatment of patients we share here at Wellness Oncology. 
http://www.ascopost.com/issues/december-1,-2013/it-sounds-crazy,-but-cancer-has-made-me-a-better-chef.aspx

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/03/134195812/grant-achatz-the-chef-who-lost-his-sense-of-taste