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Healthy diet helps chef bounce back after chemotherapy

Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of successful Atlanta restaurant Miller Union, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in February 2012. “I had actually found a lump and went to my doctor just to get it checked out, and he wasn’t really too concerned because of my age,” he says. “In your 40s, you’re kind of out of the age range at risk for testicular cancer, so he said, ‘Let’s just get an ultrasound to be safe.’”

When Satterfield got the diagnosis, he was shocked to learn he had a malignant tumor. “I probably didn’t absorb the information in the most sane manner,” he says. “I said, ‘Let’s schedule this surgery. It’d be ideal to do it two weeks from now,’ but my doctor said, ‘That’s not really how this works.’”

The treatment process

Doctors removed the testicle and performed a post-surgery biopsy and CAT scan. Results revealed that Satterfield’s cancer was in stage III, which meant it had spread to his lymph nodes, abdomen and lungs. “With testicular cancer, there are only three stages. There’s no ‘stage four’ so it was pretty advanced,” explains Satterfield. “The good news about testicular cancer is that it’s 90 to 95 percent treatable, no matter what stage you’re in.”

After the surgery, Satterfield underwent intense chemotherapy, which consisted of heavy doses of three different types of drugs, five days a week for five hours a day. While Satterfield says he regained strength during the two-week breaks between chemotherapy sessions, the overall process was grueling. “Chemotherapy is like going to a job,” he says. “I had several rounds, and by the last round, you’re just depleted. You’re really tired. ”

A healthy recovery

For Satterfield, one of the essential parts of his recovery was maintaining a healthy diet, full of fruits and vegetables. “I talk about eating fresh fruits and vegetables a lot. When I was recovering, I really feel like eating well boosted my health and wellness exponentially,” he says. “I always share that with people. While you’re in treatment, or when you’re done, keep eating healthy because it’s important.”

In addition to a healthy diet, Satterfield emphasizes the importance of staying positive during treatment. "When you're diagnosed with cancer, you have to take it one step at a time," he says. "Even if you have odds that aren't as good as mine were, fight the fight and stay positive." For more information on cancer treatment, visit Piedmont Cancer Services.

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