The spectre of breast cancer blew its chilly breath down Weatherford resident Cheryl Caudill’s back in May 2007, when a physician’s assistant discovered a lump in the course of a regular doctor’s visit.
She was 43 and had never had a mammogram.
Now, three years later, she wants to tell women why they should.
Caudill followed that grim diagnosis with a double radical mastectomy (both breasts removed) and is still undergoing reconstructive surgery.
Now, her “huge” goal in life is to help those suffering from the life threatening disease by putting together a special cookbook.
“I want to get people who have been affected by breast cancer to give me their recipes with a story,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be long. It can be their story or the story of someone they love. It can just be a dedication.”
“I think this way, it becomes everybody’s book.”
Caudill, who describes her goal as her “heart and soul,” first decided to tell her story and publicize her passion by creating a website she calls 3 Chilies and a Bean.
On the website, named after herself and her dogs, she explains the project and encourages people to submit recipes online. The book will be a keepsake, she says, a way to keep the memories of loved ones alive.
In doing so, Caudill is keeping a promise to her cousin, Jatonne, who died of breast cancer in Weatherford Regional Medical Center the year after Caudill was diagnosed.
“When I was diagnosed she was really sick, but for as long as she could, she drove more than an hour to bring me her best comfort food, chicken and dumplings, after my surgeries.”
“She had such a fear of people forgetting her. This is a way to keep her beautiful spirit alive and pass on the comfort she gave me to others.”
Caudill has collected about 50 recipes and stories from others and has 150 of her own, but she imagines a “nice, big hearty book” with several hundred recipes, a hardback with color photos, “just like the food network.”
The cookbook will have a variety of recipes, she said, including appetizers and salads. All of them will use simple ingredients from local markets.
Caudill sells designer aprons to help fuel the expensive project, and displays them on her website at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’ve been working on this for six to eight months, selling the aprons, getting the website done and testing and writing recipes,” she said.
Caudill believes raising money to fight breast cancer is very important. Testing and treatment are expensive, she said, and she knew someone who died because they didn’t have medical insurance.
“I want to give something back to all the women who have struggled,” she said. “I don’t want to leave this world without doing something selfless.”
To submit a recipe, contact Caudill on her website or call her at 817-480-2397.