In this post, I share how I started cooking for cancer patients. Cooking for cancer patients is a passion of mine, and I hope to inspire others to cook for cancer patients in their community.
Recently, the story of how I started cooking for cancer patients was featured in the local news. The reporter did a fabulous job telling my story, much better than I think I’ve ever been able to explain myself.
I actually started cooking for people with cancer over 12 years ago when my friend Francine was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Although she eventually lost her battle, those moments that I was able to sit with her, drive her to the hospital for treatments and cook for her left an indelible mark on me.
My next experience cooking for someone with cancer came three years after Francine passed away. For nine months until she lost her battle to cancer, I cooked for and visited almost every day with Thuy, a woman with stage 4 stomach cancer. Some people thought it odd that I help a woman I barely knew. I had four young children of my own and my parent-in-laws living with me so I didn’t really have the time to help out.
Then, a good friend of mine said to me “it’s all about your priorities…if you make it a priority, you can do it.” Those words stung but I knew she was speaking the truth. Last year, eight years after Thuy’s death, I had the opportunity to see one of her daughters, who has blossomed into an incredible young woman. She told me I was her mom’s “best friend,” the biggest compliment I could ever imagine.
Six years ago, I cooked for another woman with breast cancer. I made a number of meals for her during her treatment, and would go over to her house each morning to make smoothies. This took just a few minutes of my time, but made the difference between this woman getting something to eat in the morning or not.
These experiences gave me the courage to approach more people going through cancer treatment and offer to help them, including a young woman from Ghana a few years ago, someone I did not know at all.
A thyroid cancer survivor said to me recently “I think you single handedly kept me alive with all the nutritious liquids you put together for me.” Although I did cook for her, I believe it was not just the food that helped her, but the fact that she felt loved and cared for.
A breast cancer survivor I shared a cup of tea with recently told me, “It wasn’t necessarily the food you made for me…it was knowing you took the time to cook for me that meant so much.”
I share these stories because I want to encourage you to cook for and support people going through cancer treatment, whether they are friends or people in your community that you know are going through cancer treatment.
We have heard that giving is better than receiving. I can attest that this is so true. Cooking for cancer patients has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. Just a little of our time can mean the world of difference to someone else.
Through all of these experiences, I’ve learned more about the impact of cancer treatment on patients – mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, taste bud changes, sensitivity to acidic foods, dairy intolerances, food cravings, temperature sensitivity, nausea, and dehydration.
I’ve also seen the importance and power of support and love in the recovery of cancer patients. Having the support of people in the community, friendships, and family is key. A positive outlook is also critical. And faith is a huge component.
Although my blog has morphed into a place where I share recipes that I make for my family and friends, my heart is still in helping come up with food solutions for people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment, or other illnesses that make it difficult for them to eat.
I have a passion for cooking for people who have cancer, and a desire to support them during the rough times, whether it’s driving them to their chemo treatments, or just sitting quietly by their side. I hope that by sharing any bit of knowledge that I have gained over the years, I can help others who are caregivers, friends, spouses, and family members care for loved ones going through cancer treatment.
Here are some words of inspiration that have impacted me and motivated me act on my passion the past several years:
“Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” – The Imitation Game
“Innovation is 1% visualization and 99% actualization” – a very smart friend
“There’s the saying nice guys finish last – maybe they’re not finishing last…maybe they’re just running a different race” – Pastor Cliffe Knechtle
If you know someone going through cancer treatment and want to support them by cooking something, please check out my Cancer-Fighting Recipes. I would also encourage you to support cancer patients in other ways like going for a walk if they’re feeling up to it, taking them to doctor appointments, or just sitting by their side. The important thing is to show someone you care.