Good Housekeeping Magazine



Tough Cookie

Meet the mom whose treats helped her daughter (and others) fight cancer.


That’s the lesson Laura Stachler learned when her then 22-year-old daughter, Susan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2004 and she found comfort for them both from a surprising source: gingersnap cookies. Laura’s home-baked treats not only soothed Susan’s chemotherapy-induced nausea, but also evolved into a business that can produce up to 14,000 cookies a day, has donated proceeds to fund cancer research and provides countless free cookies to cancer patients in local hospitals. “We want to help people realize they’re not forgotten during the lonely journey of chemo,” says Laura, 64.

This wasn’t the first time Laura had coped with a loved one’s cancer. When she was 10 her older sister was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which eventually claimed her life. “My sister had quiet courage,” says Laura. When Susan (named for her late → aunt) was diagnosed, “I instantly saw the strength I’d seen in my sister years ago,” she says. True to form, Susan worried less about herself than about her mother. “I was heartsick for her,” she says. “For me, I just wanted to be Susan, not Susan the sick girl.”

But chemo was grueling, leaving Susan exhausted, violently nauseated and feeling as if she was “constantly licking an aluminum can,” she says. “My vision was blurry, and I had alarming amnesia… I was so upset when I lost my hair. It meant I had lost control.” She also suffered from excruciating facial pain, a rare side effect that terrified her.

Desperate to help, Laura researched ways to ease Susan’s symptoms. When she got a tip from a nurse that ginger was a natural nausea soother, a lightbulb went on:

She already had a small catering business for desserts operating out of her garage. Why not mix her love of baking with her desire to care for her daughter? The result: delicious gingersnap cookies that made Susan feel better – and that Susan and Laura began sharing with other patients too. After four months of chemo, 30 days of radiation and many gingersnaps, Susan made a full recovery and remains cancer-free today.


Shortly after finishing treatment, Susan, now 36, joined her mom’s business in the garage, and they added gingersnaps to the menu. “We sold more of them than any other dessert,” says Laura, and the two began focusing solely on the cookies. Word of mouth boosted sales further, and they rebranded as Susansnaps, eventually moving into a small storefront in Sandy Springs, GA.

Nestled in a shopping center, Susansnaps reflects the charm and optimism of its owners: Stripes and polka dots adorn the walls and surfaces, while gingersnaps in a variety of flavors- including cocoa, citrus, coconut and peanut-are displayed invitingly throughout the shop. When they aren’t in the kitchen baking, Susan (now a wife and mom herself) handles marketing and Laura manages their employees.  “People ask if we like working together, and honestly, we have the best time,” Susan says. As part of their business plan, the two formed the Susan Carver Foundation, named for Laura’s sister, to raise research money and donate cookies to cancer patients (shop or donate at “Life can change in an instant,” says Susan. “Our goal is to bring a few smiles to those who need it most.”

-Alexis Reliford