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Mar 30, 2011 05:40 PM

Cooking for a sick friend - need your help

My friend was recently diagnosed with an ovarian cancer, had an extensive surgery and started chemo this week. Three of us decided to get together every couple of weeks and make 3-4 dishes for her - some to eat within a few days, the rest for the freezer. Abby used to be very adventurous eater but now can't tolerate any spices. I am at loss of what to make and hope that some of you either were in similar situations or know of someone who was and would be able to offer advice on what bland dishes will be OK for Abby and nourish her at the same time.

Many thanks!

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  1. A friend of mine went through breat cancer treatment last year. I'm trying to rememeber everything that I made (we also did a group thing and took turns cooking for her & family) are a few recipes that I know I brought her:

    galbi jim (beef short rib stew - leave out the chili paste and it's quite mild)

    sausage shepherd's pie with squash (I omitted the curry powder, or at least cut way back on it):

    cod with Swiss chard and potatoes (I use anchovy broth in place of the chicken broth, to keep with the fishy flavors):

      1. Tastes change during chemotherapy, and generally they go towards simple bland comfort food. Remember that your goal should be to make the food calorie dense because she will be throwing up so much. Make mashed potatoes with butter and full cream. Don't use pepper. Make macaroni and cheese. Also, for some reason, homemade caramels work well. Here is a good recipe from Epicurious, just don't sprinkle them with salt.

        The thing about the caramels is they have a good amount of fat so they deliver calories but you suck on them slowly so sometimes if everything else makes you throw up, you can keep those down. I have cooked for several people going through chemo and these were the three requested items. Good luck with your cooking.

        Edit: I always packaged the mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese in quite small disposable containers so the patient would be more likely to take one and heat it up. They often said that staring at a whole pot of something would make them gag. If the portion is large it's too daunting when they are at their sickest. If she wants more, she'll heat up another serving.

        1. I believe I have responded on all of the quoted threads below, but more than willing to do this again. Throw out the book. What is tolerable after chemo 1 maybe totally different after chemo 3. But the constant for me was, protein. I needed protein, and my body needed protein. And I needed fibre [along with a bunch of other pills.]

          I ate about 2 oz of food every 2-3 hrs. Breakfast was oatmeal. Then was the smoothie with yogurt [active cultures] and frozen fruit since it has been blanched so didn't present issues for the immune system. Lunch varied [selections below]. Afternoon snack was a hard boiled egg [kept an already cooked bunch in the fridge] or more yogurt. Dinner varied.

          Items that I made for each round in miniature:
          fish cakes
          meatballs [lots of meatballs]
          lamb kebob with spinach pie
          mashed potatoes
          small piece of steak
          chicken stock soups
          pasta with garlic and olive oil

          In general, everything was cooked and ready to reheat. I craved salt and cumin. I was required to drink no less than 64oz of water daily for the first week of each round.

          So, the biggest advice. Packaged in small bits. She won't want to warm a whole lasagna, but a small bit might appeal. Oh, and tomatoes are really hard on the mouth during chemo. Raw vegetables are risk zones. Feel free to email me if you want some additional ideas.

          I will post back as I recall more.

          Oh yea! Then buttered popcorn [with salt, of course] at night to keep me regular!

          1 Reply
          1. re: smtucker

            sm, i'm so glad you are through that.I thought your post so thorough- i wanted to suggest that you store it in your pc files so you can pull it out when the next CH or other request- is posted.

          2. I don't have meal suggestions, but just wanted to say how kind you are for doing this for your friend. Since you are coordinating a bunch of folks and maybe want to share all the great advice you are getting, you may also want to use or one of the other networking sites. I also used google documents (a spreadsheet) as a simpler way to keep a calendar of meal-giving and share information about food preferences. Happy to provide more TA if needed.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jessinEC

              jessin, please advise on using a spreadsheet - I think we need to keep track of what we make, containers' size, what she liked, etc.

              1. re: herby

                Not a spreadsheet exactly, but my friend used the lotsa Helping Hands website. She designated someone else to do most of the setting-up stuff, but then she would go into the calendar and post which days she wanted someone to bring her food. For example, she'd put a request up on the calendar for a chicken dinner on Tuesday. Then her friends could look at the calendar, sign up to fulfill her request, and even make notes about what we were bringing so others could see and not duplicate in the near future. She could also put info in the requests about dietary notes, quantities, etc.

                I don't think that i'm explaining it very well but the website was great:


                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  this is a wonderful website for anyone trying to organize help after surgery, during treatments, or during a mourning period.

                  Perfect anytime someone needs delivered meals.