Beyond the Casserole: How to Take a Meal to Your Sick Friend like a Rock Star
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Posted By: Marissa Henley, Cancer Survivor and Author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer on Apr 27, 2017

Beyond the Casserole: How to Take a Meal to Your Sick Friend like a Rock Star
 

When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, we all want to know how to help. Close, inner-circle friends will care for most emotional and logistical needs, but those in the outer circles also wonder how they can do.

Even if you aren't besties with your friend who has cancer, you still have a role to play in her support network. You have two primary responsibilities:

  1. Communicate support.
  2. Bring food.

If you've been an adult for awhile, you've probably taken a meal to a new mom. But the needs of women with cancer are different. You're not dropping in on a smiling (but exhausted) woman cradling a newbornin fact, you may not see your friend with cancer at all when you deliver a meal. Your friend's family may be receiving meals for several months, not just a few weeks. She may have strict dietary restrictions or preferences that need to be considered. When you take dinner, you have an opportunity to love your friend well and show your concern.

Here are some ideas for those who want to take a meal like a rock star:

  1. Take a family recipe. Ask your friend or someone close to her to pass along one of her favorite recipes. If she has small children or picky eaters at home, they will be comforted by familiar foods.
     
    My family received more than 100 meals when I had cancer, and the most memorable was the casserole that my friend Sarah made for us. She asked for one of our favorite recipes and made a dish that was new to her, but familiar to us. No amount of chemo-induced nausea could keep me from the dinner table that evening!
     
  2. Bring paper plates. Do you enjoy washing dishes? Your friend doesn't, either. And she probably doesn't have the time or energy to finish that chore. She may not have extra money to spend on paper plates. Bring a large package of them with your meal, and you'll put a smile on her face!
     
  3. Include breakfast, lunch and snack foods. Your friend will appreciate your kindness when you bring dinner. But her family probably wants to eat three (or more) times a day. Consider bringing healthy, ready-to-serve items for breakfast, snacks or school lunches. Not only will you save her time and energy, you will save her money at the grocery store. When you're facing unexpected expenses like co-pays and deductibles, lower food expenses are a blessing!
     
  4. Leave your kids at home. If your friend is recovering from surgery or receiving chemo, she needs extra protection from germs. And while I'm sure your children never pick their nose or lick the slide at Chick-fil-a, your friend will benefit from being exposed to as few people as possible. You also want to keep her home calm and quiet in case she's resting.
     
    Whenever possible, leave your children at home or in the car while you deliver the meal. And if anyone in your home is sick, let your friend know before going to her home.
     
  5. Offer to return dishes. Please take your meal in disposable containers. The last thing she needs right now is to keep everyone's dishes straight and return them. If you must take a dish you need back, label it with your name and tell her you'll stop by in a few days to retrieve it.
     
    If you want to go the extra mile, ask if others have left dishes that need to be returned and offer to return them for her. She will appreciate your help with this task!
     
  6. One last thing to keep in mind: if you are hesitant to take a meal because your cooking skills are like mine (terrible!), consider grabbing a pizza or take-out from their favorite restaurant. When I was sick, some of my husband's colleagues ordered a pizza for us every Tuesday, and it was my kids' favorite day of the week! Your thoughtfulness in serving your friend by meeting her family's basic needs will far outweigh your shortcomings as a chef.

    Your friend needs to know she's loved and supported even more than she needs dinner. When you meet her need for a hot meal, you also communicate your concern. You let her know she is not forgotten or alone in this fight. So keep taking those casseroles like a rock star until your friend is healthy and standing at her stove again.

    *Adapted from a post that originally appeared on NWA Motherlode.

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Hello friends! As you are caring for others with meals, we hope you find our blog full of tested recipes and thoughtful ideas to encourage you along the way.

The five of us look forward to hearing from you. Please email us.

Adina, Kate, Janelle, Rachel, Maureen
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