The Right Ingredients

Alumna develops nutrition protocol for children with leukemia - including her own

Rebecca Doser ’16

Liz Perkins ’82 says she was always “very interested in nutrition,” but it was not until her 7-year-old son, Jasper, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 that she discovered her true mission. Through research on chemotherapy, Perkins became aware of the potential side effects of that treatment and developed a nutritional protocol for Jasper to ensure his health during three and a half years of chemo. Now, Perkins is a certified integrative nutritionist, specializing in cancer recovery/prevention and educating others through workshops, blog posts via Fit Life TV and a 30-day book that she is writing, on how to heal your gut.

“I was teaching nutrition and biology at Trinity College of Vermont when Jasper got diagnosed,” Perkins says. “I had totally raised him organically—I raised my own food, had an acre of cultivation and also inspected farms for 10 years to learn how to get the soil really high in nutrients and minerals.”

Perkins says she knew “chemotherapy has a very high success rate,” but still did everything to prevent him from getting the side effects. Yeast growth and clubfoot are just a few that she says many patients suffer from. She worked closely with her son and a nutritional biochemist and soon realized that she had developed “this amazing protocol for anyone going through this therapy.

“There wasn’t anyone like me in 2007 that I could find on the web,” Perkins admits. So she set up nutritional regimens for each of Jasper’s 20 different chemotherapy stages. These involved various whole foods, appropriate supplements, Chinese medicines, tea pills and herbal teas.

For example, “I used a prescription pharmaceutical B-vitamin in induction chemotherapy, but had to halt its use during maintenance chemo,” Perkins says. Each treatment throughout the chemotherapy stages changed depending on how Jasper’s body was responding.

“After Jasper was done, I got a few coaching certifications,” says the certified holistic health counselor. “An integrated nutrition certificate taught me different dietary series. Now, I work with many cancer patients and people with chronic illnesses,” she says. “We meet face-to-face or over the phone.” Perkins is also an interfaith minister, which, she says, “combined with the nutritional component, helps create balance” for her patients.

“Jasper was strong,” Perkins says. “We tried to be really happy and have fun and look at every day as a gift.” Today, those gifts rebound: Jasper is a healthy 16-year-old with a mom who is a widely-regarded authority on nutrition for the sick. For more on her work, go to