Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



Public Health

Director of Thesis

Dr. Stuart Cramer

Second Reader

Dr. Anna Hoppmann


Following cancer treatment, childhood cancer survivors (CCS) are at an increased risk of developing chronic diseases and face an increased risk of health-related death during adulthood. Recent literature demonstrates that modifying lifestyle factors such as nutrition can reduce the risk of late mortality in survivors, suggesting that interventions promoting a healthy lifestyle may improve quality and quantity of life for CCS. However, many adolescent and young adult (AYA) CCS do not adhere to national dietary guidelines and face both real and perceived barriers to adopting healthier eating habits while in a critical period for establishing behaviors that contribute to lifelong health. This project sought to investigate the nutritional needs of AYA CCS treated in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department at Prisma Health – Midlands through formative semi-structured interviews. I completed eight formative semi-structured interviews with CCS. Paper questionnaires were provided to an additional five participants who could not attend interviews, yielding a total of 13 participants. Grounded theory methodology was utilized to extract core themes from this exploratory data and design a pilot cooking class reflecting the themes. Three core themes were identified: (1) Lack of Knowledge, (2) Taste Preferences, and (3) Perceived Timeliness and Costliness of Cooking and Healthy Eating. The cooking class incorporated participants’ needs and preferences by offering educational components; selecting flavorful, nutritious, and simple recipes that embodied participants’ favorite foods; and utilizing cost-effective ingredients. Nineteen teenagers attended the chef- guided cooking class, where they prepared and sampled three recipes and engaged in an educational presentation. The success of this pilot cooking intervention is promising, and moving forward we will explore the integration of an interactive and educational cooking class into the nutrition protocol for AYA CCS at Prisma Health – Midlands.

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