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Case study: Cancer cookbook

Developing the Around the Kitchen Table book full of recipes for people on chemotherapy

Published: 29 Jan 2015

Client: Eisai

Agency: Tonic Life Communications

Campaign: Around the Kitchen Table


A quick look

Eisai’s oncology business unit asked Tonic Life Communications to devise a non-profit initiative that would provide a practical support service, involve Eisai staff in experiencing the lives of people with cancer, enhance the reputation of Eisai among key stakeholders, build mutual trust and be genuinely ‘different’. Partnering with UK cancer support network Maggie’s, chef and author Penny Ericson, an NHS dietitian and cancer patients the Around the Kitchen Table chemotherapy cookbook was born, containing over 50 recipes and dietary information, The book has been distributed to Maggie’s Centres, cancer charities, Eisai employees and HCPs and is available to download as an e-book free of charge.


Eisai’s corporate mission, called ‘human health care’ (hhc) is intended to give first thought to patients and their families and to increase the benefits healthcare can provide. In order to help fulfil this they wanted to devise a non-profit initiative that would build relationships between a pharmaceutical company and cancer patient advocacy, and involve internal Eisai employees and be genuinely ‘different’.

Following an extensive amount of research into the needs of cancer patients, it was shown that few evidence-based support materials on nutrition exist. This insight aligned with those of Maggie’s, a registered charity and patient group supported by Eisai. While going through chemotherapy patients may experience a large number of side effects, including a loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Therefore, it is important that they maintain a good diet. 


Eisai and Maggie’s collaborated on a project called Around the Kitchen Table. The core idea of this was to produce a free cookbook that provides patients, carers and healthcare professionals with evidence-based nutritional information and recipes to improve patients’ nutrition, ease symptoms and provide comfort.

Penny Ericson, a best-selling cookery author, chef and wife of bowel cancer patient Simon, was identified to collaborate with Eisai and Maggie’s on the project. Penny collated over 50 recipes and enthusiastically supported the book launch media relations together with Simon. Co-author and NHS senior research dietitian Barbara Parry provided nutritional analysis and information and professional photographer Simon Firullo ensured a high visual quality for the cookbook. The food models in the book were from Eisai employees who participated in information and cooking days with Penny and people with cancer.

Cancer patients in the UK, France and Germany were interviewed especially for the book about their experiences of food and their cancer; their stories are included in the book.


To date, more than 20,000 copies have been distributed across the UK, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The cookbook is also avail- able electronically in Japan and has downloads from around the world.

The cookbook generated a large amount of media attention, with 96 original articles being published in several publications. All articles were positive in tone and 85% contained at least three key messages. 33 radio interviews were broadcast across national and local radio, equalling four hours 24 minutes of coverage to an audience of over 2,296,000, and BBC South Today broadcast the story on its evening news.

Communiqué and PMEA both recognised the achievements of the project. More recently Eisai was shortlisted for both the PMEA ‘Excellence in Patient Focus,’ and ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ awards and was awarded for the latter.

Client verdict

“This creative and thoughtful project has made big impact with oncology teams and patients. I still receive phone calls or emails almost daily, months after launch, from our initial media outreach. My colleagues report that they have been invited to meet with units that previously refused to see them because the cookbook provides evidence of our understanding and commitment to cancer.” Cressida Robson, EMEA director communications, Eisai.

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