A Recipe for Survival

Ann Ogden

by Ann Ogden, as told to Katie Karlson

Before I had breast cancer, I had kidney cancer. They caught it early, removed my right kidney, and I went right back to work as a fashion-industry freelancer. 

Three years later, at 56, I was diagnosed with (unrelated) breast cancer. This time I needed chemo. Everyone knows chemo makes you bald. But it also saps your energy and changes your taste buds.

Before my treatments, I’d make batches of foodfor the coming weeks: often easy, comforting dishes like chicken soup with rice. 

After recovering from treatment, I started to crave hot, spicy foods to knock the taste of chemo out of my mouth: Indian, Korean, Mexican.

I grew up in a family full of chefs and bakers, and I’d been cooking for years. So it makes sense that I started cooking classes for people I met in treatment. 

In my first class, everyone looked at what they’d made—poached salmon with herbed yogurt raitaand sauteed greens—and they were so excited. They realized they could be alive again, in a sense. My heart was bursting.

I quit fashion altogether and poured my creative energy into starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Cook For Your Life, which just keeps growing. In a way, I did this because I had to. I wanted to do something that had meaning for me.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

Out of the Box
Estée Lauder is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a special, interactive timeline on Facebook. Share an inspiring story, video, tweet, or photos using the hashtag #BCA20.


Has breast cancer touched your life? Share your milestone of courage on the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign 20th Anniversary Interactive Timeline on Facebook. Also, use #BCA20 for the global Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign community to see your milestone via tweets, instagram pics or viddy videos.


Heart-stirring. Did you ever reinvent yourself after an illness or crisis?