Ruth's recipes will be her legacy

Ruth Denzey with the cookbooks she has written during chemotherapy treatment. She is sitting at a table holding two books in front of her.

Published 16 January 2023

A chef with incurable cancer used her time in the chemotherapy chair to finish two charity cookbooks.

Ruth Denzey, 68, from Cheriton, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven years ago – after previously beating breast cancer.

After a lifetime spent in the kitchen, she decided to write her recipes down during her treatment sessions at the William Harvey Hospital, so she could leave a legacy for her children, and to help others at the same time.

The book, My Last Will and Testament Cookbook, has already raised more than £2,000 to be split between Macmillan and Pilgrims Hospices.

Ruth said: “I know my life is limited and my daughter persuaded me to write my recipes down before it’s too late.

“There is a mix of dishes, from ones that were passed down from my mother and grandmother, to modern dishes including Japanese and Middle Eastern.

“I started a Facebook page for my recipes and that proved popular so the book was the next natural step.”

Ruth trained as a chef after leaving school, then completed a specialist course in patisserie, and ran various restaurants and other businesses, including managing the catering service on the Eurotunnel shuttle for several years.

She also runs The Bistro at Lympne Castle, and the Garden of England Cookschool, offering a range of courses to novices in the kitchen.

After her breast cancer diagnosis 12 years ago, she had successful radiotherapy treatment and surgery, so was shocked to discover she had advanced ovarian cancer.

The grandmother of five said: “I thought the breast cancer was my brush with cancer and I would be fine after that – I never expected to develop another, entirely separate cancer.

“I happened to be at the GP surgery for something else and mentioned in passing that I had been experiencing a pulling sensation when I walked, so he suggested a blood test.

“When that came back it showed some abnormalities so I had a scan and then was told I had quite a lot of cancer."

Ruth has had five rounds of chemotherapy in the Celia Blakey Unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, although her consultant has warned her they are becoming less effective, and they are running out of treatment options.

She said: “I actually think I have been incredibly lucky because I don’t really get any side effects from the chemotherapy so the past seven years have been pretty good, and I have been able to get on with my life.

“But I’m very aware that my time will run out and it will get me in the end.

“If I have one message for others, it would be to see your GP if you have the slightest worry and get it checked out. I just thought I had a stitch so I left it six months – who knows what might have happened if I had seen someone earlier?”

There are two editions of the book, one focussing on autumn and winter recipes, and one for spring and summer. They are available from https://jasamipublishingltd.com/ and will soon be on Amazon as well.

You can find more of Ruth’s recipes at https://www.facebook.com/mylifeinrecipes