Cookies a Recipe for Hope in Cancer Patients

Susan Stachler bakes gingersnaps in Atlanta.
If you're a cookie lover, you know there's something special about cookies baked by mom. It must be the love mothers put into them. CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports the cookies baked by one Atlanta mom contain plenty of love - and one other special ingredient: hope.

Laura Stachler and her daughter Susan have built a gourmet cookie business one sheet of gingersnaps at a time. They discovered their recipe for success quite by accident, during their family's darkest moments. Seven years ago, Laura's husband had cancer. Susan, then a college senior, was also diagnosed with cancer, the same cancer her aunt Susan had died from years earlier.

"I was going home to do chemo and radiation," Susan said. "It was definitely not the easiest thing to take in."

Susan and her father even went through cancer treatment together.

"Now my husband, now it's my child," Laura said. "It's too much. I can't do it."

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Rather than feel helpless, Laura baked gingersnaps. Ginger is known to soothe upset stomachs, often a side effect during chemotherapy.

What began as a mother's love became an inspiration for a family business. Today, they make more than cookies. They make some very special deliveries - of comfort and hope - to sick patients in hospitals.

When we visited Laura and Susan, they were bringing cookies to St. Joseph's Hospitalin Atlanta, where Susan went through her treatment.

Dave Fronk, a patient, said, "The ability to talk to them and share with them, to know this is going to be OK. We're going to get through it."

"Life does go on," Susan tells some of the patients. "One day it's all going to be different."

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Susan is now 29 and cancer-free.

"People don't expect cancer to look like Susan," Laura said. "So that in itself reminds them that if this young girl can do it, then I can too."

Some days, they bake up to 10,000 cookies a day and ship them nationwide.

"It's almost overwhelming," Susan said. "People will call and say 'It's the only thing I can eat'."

Their gingersnaps are aptly called Susansnaps - honoring one Susan's recovery and another Susan's memory.

"She would be very proud," Susan said of her aunt. "Very, very proud of my mom."

Proud of the secret ingredient in every Susansnap: kindness.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.