Like many cancer stories, Bernas’ started with a minor complaint. In summer 2014, what she thought was a persistent sinus infection turned out to be stage-three squamous cell carcinoma that had invaded her entire left cheek, the roof of her mouth and went deep behind the orbit of her left eye.
Throughout her cancer journey, Bernas endured more than a dozen surgeries and spent time with a tracheostomy and feeding tube. While Bernas’ struggle to get back to eating on her own took months, she was determined to wean herself off the feeding tube.
As the surgeries to reconstruct her face began to make progress, she had to learn how to swallow on her own. That’s when she discovered Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products, designed specifically to meet the unique nutritional needs of cancer patients, while staying at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Rochester, Minn. Today, Bernas credits Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products for saving her life.
Besides discovering Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products, she credits her healing process to her love of food. As a frequent guest at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Rochester, Minn., Bernas would spend countless hours cleaning the shared kitchens and preparing food for other guests visiting the Mayo Clinic for treatment.
“We receive many notes about Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products and the role that they play in the lives of those who are facing cancer treatment,” said Wendy Watkins, vice president of corporate communications at Hormel Foods. “We were very moved by Lucy’s story and the role that food and our Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products played throughout her journey. For inspiring us and for the courage that Lucy displays daily, we wanted to honor her as our next Inspired Fan.”
Hormel Food invited Bernas to be a guest at its recent Leadership Forum held in Austin, Minn. At the event, Jim Snee, Hormel Foods chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, surprised Bernas by donating a year’s supply of Hormel Vital Cuisine™ products in her name to the Hope Lodge in Rochester, Minn., to make sure others are receiving the proper nutrition they need to battle any of the challenges they are facing.
Hormel Foods launched its Inspired Fan honor last year by naming 9-year-old Jackson Sizemore as the first recipient. Sizemore’s mother, Tiffany, wrote to the company and told them that “Jackson has a ‘superpower’ called autism” and that he only ate very specific foods, and wrote that “the best of the best is SPAM® and only SPAM®.” The company loved Jackson’s story so much, it created the Inspired Fan honor and awarded it to him.
See the full story on Lucy Bernas at https://www.hormelfoods.com/inspired/story/healing-through-food/.
To read Jackson’s full story and meet other Hormel Foods inspired fans, visit https://www.hormelfoods.com/inspired/story/jackson-superhero/.