BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Holly Clegg, a well-known food writer from Baton Rouge, died Friday, Nov. 1 after a battle with cancer.
If the way to the heart is through the stomach, then cookbook author Holly Clegg held a place in hearts around the country. Clegg’s journey from her kitchen to national cooking sensation started in Baton Rouge.
“Baton Rouge is so good to me. I always say I wouldn’t have been on the national map if it weren’t for Baton Rouge, you know and I thank everybody out there for being supporters of my cookbook,” said Clegg in a July interview with WAFB.
Clegg wrote 17 cookbooks over 25 years, but caught her big break when Walmart and the Today Show put her recipes on a national stage.
She prided herself on being one of the first to realize a few tweaks made to popular recipes could make them healthy and tasty. She took that passion for healthy cooking even further by partnering with local doctors and experts to develop recipes for patients suffering from diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
As fate would have it, she would need to rely on some of those recipes herself.
“I had five days of symptoms literally,” said Clegg. In August 2018, doctors diagnosed Clegg with a rare form of gastric cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy couldn’t stop the disease and Clegg went into hospice care nearly a year later. She chose not to view hospice care as a time to start dying but a chance to focus her efforts to help others.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to live the life I’m living, these days, right now, we take each day and we cherish it,” said Clegg.
Clegg spent the last months of her life raising money for a fund started by her family. In a matter of weeks, the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund earned tens of thousands of dollars for the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas where she underwent treatment. Clegg’s surgeon, Dr. Brian Badgwell, says thanks to that fund, potentially life saving clinical trials can begin almost immediately.
“Even before she was diagnosed, she lived her life to help people with chronic diseases through her cookbooks and then since her diagnosis, she’s just been laser-focused on helping people that have this disease now so it’s just been inspiring,” said Badgwell.
Clegg ultimately ended her battle with cancer at the age of 64 surrounded by her family. Even then she never lost her passion to help others, from spreading the word about stomach cancer to helping families everywhere come together over a good meal. Before her death, she told WAFB she can’t thank the community she holds dear to her heart enough for the love and support she’s been shown.
“I love you Baton Rouge and I thank you so much. I’m just so grateful for so many people helping me and supporting me all these years,” said Clegg.
Donations for the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Fund are still being accepted. Anyone who would like to donate online can click the link here. Once on the donation page, simply select ‘I’d like to choose where my donation will go’, select the ‘other’ field and type Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Fund.
Read more about Clegg by clicking the links below: