Cookbook project raises funds for breast cancer research, programs

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2007

A group of women from the Hattiesburg area are on a mission tohelp find a cure for breast cancer. At the same time they hope tostimulate the tastebuds of the public by offering a newcookbook.

The group of eight women, lead by nine-year breast cancersurvivor Dawn Gillis, have been traveling to different venues tosign copies of their cookbook “The Pink Palate.” The group mostrecently held a booksigning at Edgewood Interiors and Books inMcComb.

The brightly colored cookbook consists of 1,034 recipessubmitted by breast cancer patients, survivors, family members andmedical personnel in South Mississippi and is a tribute to all whohave battled the disease. The cover says it is “Sassy Recipes forthe Spirit and Survivor in You.”

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Gillis was overwhelmed with the number of recipes that weresubmitted for the book.

“I was hoping for 400 recipes,” Gillis said.

Gillis is the co-director and founder of the Waiting For A CureFund, from which earnings of the book are earmarked.

“The majority of the proceeds from the sale of the cookbook willbe used to help create a Patient Navigator program,” Gillissaid.

The program will help to insure that patients have access to anyand all necessary support services such as enrollment into a Breastand Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Gillis said enrollmentin this early detection program will insure that all of thepatient’s medical testing and treatment will be paid.

The Navigator program will also educate patients about theirdiagnosis and treatments.

The group works closely with Forrest General Hospital inHattiesburg and its Spirit of Women group.

Some proceeds from the book will also go to the Deanna FavreHOPE Foundation. Favre is a breast cancer survivor and wife ofquarterback Brett Favre, of the Green Bay Packers. She also wrotethe introduction of the book.

The idea for the cookbook, which includes some old favorites andsome that will become new favorites, came about in 2005, Gillissaid. Planning for the book continued over the following monthsbefore being unveiled on Oct. 5, 2006.

Gillis credits the book’s colorful cover with drawing such alarge following.

The book’s cover was created by breast cancer survivor andartist Lissa Ortego.

Gillis said Ortego woke up at 2 a.m. one morning and said shehad a vision for the cover of the cookbook and got up and sketchedit out.

Subsequently, that idea led to each category divider beingpainted by a cancer survivor. At the bottom of each divider is theartist’s name and number of years they have survived cancer.

The cookbook also highlights other details such as placing aribbon next to each recipe submitted by a breast cancersurvivor.

Now six months and 4,000 copies later, the group is reorderingfor the sixth time.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Gillis exclaimed.

The book has garnered a bit of fame since being featured innumerous magazines and newspapers. It also won first place in the7th Annual Morris Community Cookbook Awards.

Morris Press Cookbooks in Kearney, Neb., and publisher of “ThePink Palate,” said judges praised the cookbook for its colorful anduplifting design.

Cookbook Digest Editor, Kristy Halley Speers said, ” … Thefact that we’ve all been touched by the disease gives this cookbookmass appeal.”

Gillis and her group have submitted a request to be included inthis year’s Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson, which is a popularpre-Christmas shopping attraction sponsored by the Junior League ofJackson.

Aprons, hand towels and other items have been assembled tocolor-coordinate with the cookbook. Gillis said they are makingbaskets they hope to sell at Mistletoe to raise even morefunds.

“We’re excited and hope they select us,” she said.

“The Pink Palate” can be purchased at select retail outlets inHattiesburg and McComb, and from the gift shop at Forrest GeneralHospital. Gillis hopes to add other retail outlets in the nearfuture.