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‘Nourishing the Fighter’ One Step at a Time

Nourishing The Fighter
Melissa Smith

A mother’s tale of courage and compassion

Ten years ago Leila Davies-Frick became a member of a club she didn’t sign up for. She became a parent to a child with cancer. At just six years of age, her son Jake was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. But thankfully, years of gruelling treatment proved successful and with close monitoring and regular check-ups, 16-year-old Jake is living his best life.

Motivated by the strength and determination of her son and other kids like him, Leila is on a mission to raise awareness about the importance of holistic health and nutrition for children diagnosed with cancer.

With the toughest years behind them, Leila has bravely strapped on her favourite walking shoes and hit the road for a deeply personal and challenging adventure. With her dad as her support crew, following carefully behind, Leila is pounding the backroads from Victor Habor on the Fleurieu Peninsula to the heart of Melbourne. Walking more than 800 kilometres, stopping at towns along the way, Leila is raising awareness and funds to publish and freely distribute her book “Nourishing the Fighter”.

Nourishing the Fighter
Leila and her parents

Her keen interest in nutrition and holistic health grew when Jake had difficulty tolerating food while undergoing treatment, leading to dramatic weight loss. Committed to finding ways of feeding her child, she educated herself – put on her research hat, and became an expert about what her son needed, resulting in creative alternatives to nourishment.

Leila recounts that “within days of Jake’s first round of treatment he lost his hair and so much weight that he needed a feeding tube. He was constantly frail, sick and vomiting.”

Over the next three years, Jake endured 12 brutal rounds of chemo, followed by another dozen rounds of radiotherapy as well as two stem cell transplants and multiple immunotherapies. During these years he was isolated for months at a time and admitted to the ICU with life-threatening side effects. And for each step of the way, his devoted mum was by his side.

“As a mum, I didn’t want to show him my pain, so I put on a brave face and masked what was going on. I tried to be happy and play games, and be present for him while also being there and supporting my daughters too”.
The heartbreaking reality of watching your child suffer in hopes of the treatment being a success is a pain like no other, which still haunts Leila. “Your first job as a mum is to protect your kid and there I am causing him pain telling him it would be alright”.

Simple, nourishing recipes and heartfelt stories to guide families through a difficult time

More than just a cookbook “Nourishing the Fighter” is a unique and personal insight from a mother’s perspective. Leila shares experiences and explores the impacts of treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. She delves into foods and their health benefits, providing recipes and practical advice on food presentation, kitchen safety and catering to the nutritional needs of babies receiving treatment. An empowering resource for young fighters and parents, “Nourishing the Fighter” is full of handy tips and tricks that Leila used to support her son back to health.

Leila’s ultimate goal is to print and deliver 500 books, for free, offering support and a sense of connection during an incredibly challenging time.
All additional funds will be donated to ‘The Kid’s Cancer Project‘ as a token of gratitude for the incredible work and support they’ve provided Leila on her adventurous journey.
Sadly, Leila’s experience of receiving a devastating cancer diagnosis for her son Jake is all too common. Over 750 children between 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia, with Neuroblastoma being the most common in children under five years of age. And like most cancer treatments, it can be a cruel and punishing path to wellness.
Help Leila make a difference. Click here to find out more and donate to this incredible cause.
You can follow her epic journey on Facebook, here.


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