TODAY

TODAY   |  April 16, 2013

Mom starts cookie store after daughter’s cancer diagnosis

After her 22-year-old daughter Susan was diagnosed with cancer, Atlanta mom Laura started a cookie company. Laura used to make gingersnap cookies to make her daughter feel better; now they serve them to cancer patients in local hospitals. TODAY’s Sara Haines reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> you have a mother and daughter story to tell us, sara?

>> i do.

>> it might involve cookies. i met laura and susan who bake cookies for cancer. after spending some time with them i understood why it was a labor of love. every day, this mother/daughter duo are elbow deep in mixing bowls, running the gourmet ginger cookie company, susan snaps. laura and susan do everything by hand, from the cranking and baking to the packaging and selling. it's a small company with a big mission. at 22 years old, susan was diagnosed with a type of cancer called hodgkins lymphoma right before her college graduation. this was a diagnosis her mother knew all too well. laura 's older sister, also named susan passed away at the young age of 28 from that very disease. if that wasn't enough, laura 's husband had also been diagnosed with cancer.

>> when you look at how many different hats you've worn with cancer, a sister, a wife, a mom, was there a point where you thought, seriously? like couldn't we share the wealth? like this is too much.

>> it can be very lonely. and i am very, i like to you know, be able to take charge and feel like we've got it under control.

>> you like to fix everything.

>> it wasn't fixable. it wasn't fixable this time. so -- the way that i could handle it was to try to make their days and our days and our family's days as normal as i possibly could.

>> in a desperate pursuit for normal, laura began to bake.

>> i could tell by the sound of her feet coming down the hallways, what kind of a day she would have. we would wait to see her face around the corner, what kind of a day we would have ahead of us. the days that were the worst were the days that were too much for her and for him.

>> and that's where the cookies come in?

>> yeah.

>> ginger is known to soothe an upset stomach. so laura created a recipe for gingersnaps to ease their side effects during chemotherapy. and susan began sharing big batches of her mom's cookies with other patients.

>> my mom had a small dessert company, she did catering and things like that, she put the gingersnaps on her menu. to see what would happen. as luck would have it, we sold more gingersnaps that christmas than anything else on the menu. one year later, susansnaps was born out of a garage.

>> you have a daughter you know, compromised health. bald and no insurance, where is she going to go? across the driveway to work.

>> now they operate a store in their home town of atlanta, but they never forget how the story began, visiting hospitals and delivering cookies to patients going through cancer treatment.

>> there are nurses and doctors, when i see their faces, it brings you right back. it feels like it was just yesterday.

>> but even better, and bigger than the cookies, is the message of hope that susan symbolizes. eight years later, the statler family, successful and healthy, lived by the old adage, that when life gives you lemons, make cookies.

>> the cancer was never why me, but with the company, it's why not?

>> i love that. and the big family and they all help out and work in there. and what a great gift, if you haven't gotten your mother something.

>> by the way -- they are delicious.

>> we've polished off quite a few.

>> i love them because they're not too sweet and hoda loves them because they're just sweet enough.

>> thanks so much for terrific story.