Presented in conjunction with the American Head and Neck Society, the webinar was moderated by Heather Starmer, MA CCC-SLP, BCS-S, and featured medical presenters, Liza Blumenfeld, MA, CCC-SLP and Lisa J Maccaroni RDN, CSO, LD, LDE, CDCES , BCS-S, expert presenter, Rachel Saks, MSS, LSW, OSW-C and cancer survivor, Ellen Sheffer. A dietician, a speech language pathologist, a representative from the Cancer Support Community and a HNCA Ambassador survivor presented on healthy types of holiday foods, easily consumed dishes, recipes to consider, and how to deal with the social impacts that come with not being able to eat as a part of a holiday gathering.
The presenters also participated in an #AskHNCA Twitter Chat to answer questions on how to make holiday gatherings more inclusive for head and neck cancer patients with healthy, easy-to-eat dishes and tips for managing the social impacts of eating difficulties.
Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Director, Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation
Stanford Cancer Center
Heather Starmer is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford University, and the Director of the Head and Neck Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation Center at the Stanford Cancer Center. Professor Starmer completed her Bachelor’s Degree at California State University Long Beach and her Master’s Degree at the University of Pittsburgh. She joined the Stanford faculty in 2014 to develop the Head and Neck Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation Center.
Professor Starmer specializes in the evaluation and rehabilitation of communication and swallowing disorders associated with head and neck cancer. She has worked with patients following total laryngectomy for over 20 years. Her research interests include use of technology to optimize patient outcomes, developing strategies to enhance therapeutic rehabilitation, and the relationship between head and neck lymphedema and functional impairments of communication and swallowing.
Liza Blumenfeld is a medical speech-language pathologist, serving patients with complex swallowing and communication disorders for over 25 years. She is board certified swallowing disorders specialist and adjunct professor in the department of communicative disorders at San Diego State University. In addition, she is the founder and co-owner of Endo-Education which provides clinical training and mentorship in clinical endoscopy for diagnosis and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders. Her current role is as co-director of the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Head and Neck Cancer Center at UCSD Moores Cancer Center.
Liza has focused her efforts at UCSD on developing a center of excellence committed to multi-disciplinary care. She played a lead role in developing dedicated care pathways which hard wire clinical referrals and have allowed for full integration of this culture across the continuum of care. Her research interests include investigation of standard of care as well as novel curative modalities on objective and patient-reported swallowing performance and outcomes. Liza is passionate about utilizing translational approaches to favorably shift the current status quo in dysphagia management, allowing patients to enjoy a safer and more meaningful quality of life.
Clinical Dietitian/CDE, Nutrition & Dietetics
Hendricks Regional Health
Lisa Maccaroni is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has been with Hendricks Regional Health since 2006. In addition to her duties as a Clinical Manager, she counsels oncology patients at Hendricks Regional Health. She is the facilitator of the Avon Indiana chapter of SPOHNC Support Group. Lisa has served as an expert reviewer for nutrition and head and neck cancer materials for Cancer Support Community. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, the Clinical Manager Dietetic Practice Group, the Purdue University Nutrition Science Alumni Network, the Indiana Cancer Consortium, and the Indianapolis Cancer Support Community Advisory Board.
Lisa was born and raised in Nappanee, Indiana. She has been married for 31 years to her husband Warren. They have a daughter that just completed her graduate degree and has started her first “grown up” job. She enjoys great food, cooking, and summer days at the lake. She and her husband have a 2 year old Labrador Retriever named Jett, who is a Canine Good Citizen and a therapy dog registered with Therapy Dogs International.
She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Purdue University after completing the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and internship at Lafayette Home Hospital. She is also a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist.
Rachel joined Cancer Support Community as Senior Director of Education in August 2021. Rachel collaborates with and supervises the education team to create and implement relevant education and outreach programs to patients, families, and caregivers affected by cancer.
Prior to joining CSC, Rachel was the Director of Cancer Services at Doylestown Hospital, a community hospital located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In this role, Rachel led a team of oncology professionals in providing comprehensive treatment, navigation, and support services to cancer patients and their families. Rachel has spent her entire professional career in healthcare providing support, advocacy, and education to patients and their loved ones. Rachel is passionate about developing screening, prevention, and education opportunities for members in the community to increase awareness, provide early detection, and promote healthy living.
Rachel earned a Master’s degree in Social Services from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She holds her license in social work in Pennsylvania.
In the late summer of 2013, Ellen noticed a lump on the right side of her neck and thought it was something unusual but nothing concerning. Her life was full with two children in college, a busy husband and caring for her mother whose health was beginning to decline. Ellen was also working full-time and serving as an elected member of the local school board.
A year later, she was diagnosed with HPV-attributed oropharyngeal cancer survivor and underwent surgery for a tumor on the back of her tonsil, eight Cisplatin chemotherapy treatments, and 28 rounds of radiation. In all, she lost 40 pounds and was very ill.
She now lives with the treatment side effects: extreme xerostomia, atrophying of her salivary glands, fragile bones, and most foods now taste offensive, which extremely limits her diet.
Ellen's full cancer survivor story can be read on her profile page here.
Recipes to Try
Healing & Easy Eats is dedicated to the memory of Chef George Chajewski, whose First Edition cookbook, Your New Best Friend, the Blender: Cooking for the Cancer Patient, is the basis of this edition. HNCA extends special thanks to head and neck cancer survivors Lisa Reed and Ryan Gainor, whose home-created recipes round out this latest version of the cookbook.
The HNCA understands that having a nutritious diet during and after treatment is necessary for a steady recovery. In many cases, that can be challenging for head and neck cancer patients and survivors. That is why HNCA is working on providing some nutritious recipes that have been created with head and neck cancer patients in mind.
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