My mother loved cookbooks, and in an early American cookbook, she found a pumpkin pie recipe. The recipe made about a dozen pies so she worked it down to a filling that would make 2-3 pies, depending on their size. Our daughters associated pie with grandma to the extent that, when my mom died, our older daughter saw a hand holding out a piece of pie in the clouds on the way home. Everybody, including a good friend from high school, loved that pie, but she did not want to share the recipe she worked so hard on. As she got older and the holiday baking was passed on to me, she finally relented and said I could share the recipe. My friend was very happy, but as often happens with recipes, they never quite come out the same when someone else does them. At Thanksgiving, I bake pies for my sister and our kids and mail them out. This year, I had a spare I was going to give away at Christmas, until I heard from that high school friend’s daughter that she had ovarian cancer. I packed up that pi, mailed it out, and surprised her with it. To say she was happy was an understatement, but what really made me happy was her comment that it was just what she needed.
Anyone dealing with a chronic disease or medical condition needs acts of kindness, cancer patients more so than some. A Fellow from the Institute for Healthcare improvement stated that “simple acts of kindness can be a potent antidote to negative emotions and may improve outcomes for those experiencing the frightening journey called cancer.” If you play to your strengths, there are so many ways you can help someone get through their therapy. Life happens every day no matter how someone feels, and having a friend come by to cook, clean, garden, chat, or whatever you can do to help is much appreciated.
For those who like to knit or crochet, there are many projects you can do. For example, not all breast cancer patients can afford a prosthesis after their lumpectomy or mastectomy. One woman put her hands to work and knitted knockers were born. Any cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy appreciates a chemo cap, not only for the warmth, but often as a fashion statement. Prayer shawls are also a popular item to make, warming both the person who made it and the person who received it.
Knitting and other hand crafts are also good for the patient, providing a meditative project to get their minds off of their treatment. One small company partnered with Lion Brand yarns to provide knit kits to young adults. If your friend/family member is interested in some other craft, make up your own kit to give them. And don’t forget books, DVDs, puzzles, etc. They all provide much needed relief. When life gives a friend lemons, think about making a lemon meringue pie and serve them with love.