Robin Polin grew up in a “very holistic” household, in Westchester County. Her parents limited her exposure to medications, even X-rays.
So she was shocked 4 years ago when her younger brother Jeff was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. He was 37, with a 20-month-old baby.
For 30 years — much of her life — Robin had been a vegetarian. Cooking and wellness were important to her. So Robin — who had lived in Westport for over a decade — used Jeff’s illness to change careers. She’d been in pediatric opthalmology, but now she enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York. She wanted to become a health coach.
At the Institute, Robin learned about the close connection between nutrition, the mind and the body. The curriculum covered every diet, from paleo to vegan. She was attracted to the vegan philosophy, and says she was “almost obsessed” with reading about nutrition and its effects on cancer treatments.
A year ago, Robin began a new business: nutritional counseling for cancer patients. Quickly, though, she learned that a “healthy” vegan diet was not necessarily the answer.
“As I watched people during chemo, I realized I had to let go of my aggressive, ‘preachy’ views,” she says. “I had to listen to them, and embrace what they were going through.”
The result, she says, is that she “listens to them with an open heart. We talk about how I can make their life easier.” She comes up with a food plan — and much more.
“I’ve almost come 180 degrees,” she notes. “It’s all about finding out what will help them hold food down, and keep weight on. The important thing is to help them enjoy meals, so they can get to the next level.”
Recently, Robin was contacted by the cousin of a Westporter. The woman was terminally ill with stage 4 colon cancer, and had already lost 40 pounds.
Robin met with the woman, her cousin and her mother. Together they devised a way of “embracing life. We wanted her to do everything in her power to enjoy each day.”
The diet from the woman’s cancer center tasted awful to her. Robin now visits twice a week. She delivers 5 meals for every day — breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks — which she has cooked herself. The menu is based on what the woman likes, and what settles her stomach. It’s 100% natural, and includes protein bars Robin created herself.
“We talk a lot, and tweak it often,” Robin says.
She enjoys her visits as much as the woman does. They sit, talk, and come up with ideas far beyond food. Together, they’ve gone to yoga and for a makeover.
“This is perfect,” Robin says. “We get a lot done.” The woman — who is single — needs good food, but doesn’t want to be a burden on friends. “They have their own families to cook for,” she told Robin.
But now she — and other cancer patients in Westport — have Robin, to cook and care for them. What a wonderful recipe that is.
(To contact Robin, call 203-258-2856; email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here.)