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Baptist celebrates Centennial with Patti LaBelle

This article originally appeared in DeSoto Post, December 9, 2011

Baptist celebrates Centennial with Patti LaBelle


By Matt Rutherford

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Baptist Memorial Health Care held its Centennial Kick-Off Thursday night in front of a sold out crowd in its newly completed Dr. H. Edward Garrett, Sr. Auditorium, located at Baptist Memphis on Walnut Grove Road.

As part of the celebration, which is themed Well into the Next Century, the hospital invited two-time Grammy winner and best-selling author Patti LaBelle to discuss the importance that food plays in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as talk about cancer and the impact that disease has made on her life.

"Baptist Memorial Health Care's mission is healing, preaching, and teaching. As part of our Centennial Kick-Off we are bringing in Patti LaBelle to Memphis to talk about her struggle with diabetes and her family's battles with cancer," Baptist Memorial Health Care President & CEO Stephen C. Reynolds.

LaBelle, who has authored two cookbooks focusing on diabetes, has also dealt with the loss of three sisters to cancer, all dying before reaching the age of 43.

Fox 13 Memphis anchor Merl Purvis moderated the event, which included an intimate discussion with LaBelle about her life and about how the diseases of diabetes and cancer have impacted her, as well as a cooking demonstration that used recipes from her cookbook, Recipes for the Good Life.

The event concluded with a reception that showcased many other recipes from her book that patrons were allowed to sample.

During the discussion LaBelle talked about making healthy choices when it comes to food, and said food does not have to become bland or boring because of a diagnosis, it just has to become healthier.

"You just have to leave out the fat and all of that stuff, the sugar and salt, and get used to something that is not awful. It's not awful, I used to fry the whole chicken and now I steam the whole chicken, and I eat it," LaBelle said.

She also said food does not have to taste bad because sugar and salt have to be done away with. Labelle offered many healthier alternatives and described her method of cooking as freestyle.

"Food is not boring, you can make it taste better," she said. "I don't need all that fat, or that salt, but I do need pepper though,"

And while Labelle offered up seasoning alternatives and encouraged healthier choices regarding food she also said there is a reason that people should make healthier choices when it comes to food.

"Don't let yourself go," she said. "Because when you do, you lose you."

LaBelle also talked about her experiences of losing her sisters to cancer. This was not only touching and inspiring, but also important because the proceeds from the ticket sales of the of the Centennial Kick-Off benefitted construction of Baptist's new cancer center that is located at Germantown Parkway and Wolf River Blvd.

Scott Fountain, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Baptist Memorial Health Care, said the center will be the first and only free standing adult, comprehensive cancer center in the Mid South.  The new cancer center will cover the entire gamut of cancer, from diagnosis, to treatment and care, to therapy and dealing with life after cancer. Part of that, Fountain said, includes nutrition and the new cancer center will have a kitchen geared to teaching healthy cooking techniques to help battle cancer.

"Cancer, much like diabetes, has become a chronic disease. It's a disease that you don't just have a treatment then you are over with it or you have an adverse outcome. It's a manageable disease for people that they just have to watch out for, for the rest of their life. And nutrition is part of that and an important part of that," Fountain said.