• "Let’s dine together and cure cancer, one dinner at a time." (E+/Getty Images)Source: E+/Getty Images
One Australian dies every 12 minutes from cancer. Food personality, Lyndey Milan - who lost her son Blair to cancer over seven years ago - believes that we can turn these statistics around by eating dinner together at home.
By
Lyndey Milan OAM, Presented by
Yasmin Noone

8 Oct 2019 - 3:27 PM  UPDATED 9 Oct 2019 - 3:37 PM

My son, Blair died from acute myeloid leukaemia seven-and-a-half years ago.

Obviously, because he is my son, Blair was brought up to be aware of food.

Food was something I had always [enjoyed] throughout my life. Cooking is just a part of me. So it goes without saying that Blair loved food but also he loved the hospitality of the table – as does my daughter Lucy. That’s something that came from my parents – the practice of sitting around a table of food and talking.

When my kids were growing up, before mobile phones came about, we never had the TV on when we were eating. Instead, we used to talk to each other. When you have teenagers, it also takes longer to hear what they don’t say than what they do say. So having conversations around the dinner table was always really important.

Blair used to really love a dish my mother used to make: bran loaf. Right from when he was a little boy, he was very close to my mother. We would go over to see her and when he was at her house, he would always ask her if she had any bran loaf.

Blair was a meat lover but he also loved salad. If there was a salad placed on the table, he would wait til [the end of dinner] to see if anyone wanted to eat anymore or not. Then, when everyone else was done, he would just eat out of the salad bowl and polish it off. He just loved his salad.

Blair was also my co-host in Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece, which aired on SBS.

Why food, family, friends and conversations are so important

When Blair died, I didn’t cook for a few weeks at all. But after that, I returned to cooking and just kept on going.

As a person, Blair was very joyful. In life, he made a choice to be happy every single day. He would not have wanted me to sit under the doona [after he died]. Of course, when you lose someone you love, there are days where you feel like doing just that. But Blair would love to think I was getting out there and doing something. 

Looking back, I think I just drew on my inner resources to deal with everything that happened around Blair’s death. Plus, I have really good family and friends. They were great and used to drop around to give us food.

The fact is everybody is touched by cancer. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t know somebody who has been affected by the disease.

The first night after Blair passed, a friend showed up with dinner in hand. That was lovely because you need to eat when you’re grieving. But also, when you sit around a table for dinner and talk with friends and family while eating, it’s quite healing.

After someone passes, you want to continue to talk about them. If you don’t talk about them, then [you feel that] they are really dead. So in every day life, if you would normally talk about the person in your life who has died when they were alive, I believe you should continue to talk about them after they have passed.

How you can help the cancer research cause

The fact is everybody is touched by cancer. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t know somebody who has been affected by the disease.

One Australian dies every 12 minutes from cancer. By the end of today, 330 Australians will have been told they have cancer. At the end of this week, 820 Australians will lose their lives from cancers of all kinds.

But the point is that we can cure cancer. We just all need to get together to raise enough money for research so we can cure it.

Cooking good food is empowering me to beat cancer
"You get nourishment from food and food can give you what you need to get you through anything."

The World’s Biggest Dinner, run by Cure Cancer Australia, is a fundraising initiative for cancer research.

It’s a brilliant event because its non-elitist in that anyone can do it. You can host a dinner to raise money for cancer research that can be as simple or as complex as you like. You can have your neighbours over for chops on the barbeque or you can have a dinner party at your house.

The event is also international. Your event can feature any culture in the world or cuisine that you like to cook. It’s very inclusive.

Through the World’s Biggest Dinner, we want to inspire the community to come together and play a part to help ensure this generation is the last one that dies from cancer.

So, if you are one of the many people who have lost someone to cancer, maybe you can host an event as part of The World’s Biggest Dinner and dedicate your dinner to them? Or perhaps you can cook something for the event that you used to share with your loved one before they passed and raise money for cancer research at the same time?

Through the World’s Biggest Dinner, we want to inspire the community to come together and play a part to help ensure this generation is the last one that dies from cancer.

Let’s dine together and cure cancer, one dinner at a time.


 

Lyndey Milan OAM is a Cure Cancer Celebrity ambassador. She will also be running a group tour to Morocco that focuses on food in 2020. For more details, visit her site.To register to host an event as part of the World’s Biggest Dinner and raise vital funds for cancer research, visit Cure Cancer online. 

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