This is Help Whip Cancer month with Pampered Chef. However, when you are married to someone who is a cancer survivor, every month is about cancer prevention and education. When Zoe was going through chemotherapy, finding foods she would eat was the biggest challenge. Everything to her tasted like cardboard. It was so hard to get her eat anything. The greatest blessing during that time was a cookbook I found called the Cancer Fighting Kitchen. In it, the author, explained how I could make the food taste palatable for Zoe. I learned to oversalt all her food so that it no longer tasted like cardboard
Sadly, the wisdom I gained from this book is a gift I have shared numerous times with friends who are battling cancer. When a dear friend of mine was recovering from what was to be her first of several battles with cancer, I suggested to her daughter that she add acids like lemon juice and hot sauce to her mom’s food. My friend, who normally does not like hot sauce, could not get enough.
We do what we can to help our loved ones eat when their taste buds make everything taste horrible. Another friend of mine said everything tasted metallic. So I suggested her husband put peanut butter on things. He mixed peanut butter into her spaghetti and meatballs one night and she scarfed it down like crazy. Peanut butter became her best friend and they went through gallons of it, or so I am sure it seemed. Read More
Of all the letters thus far, picking a food for D has been the easiest. I knew it had to be dates. My fascination with dates began in seminary when I was taking my advanced feminist and womanist preaching class. I was researching (aka exegeting) a scripture on the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-21, NRSV). In the process, of doing so, I came to understand the spiritual and healing significance of dates. Tamar means date palm. During ancient biblical times, people’s names were a prophesy about their lives. Date palm might not seem like much of a prophesy, but it was. The date palm is said to be the oldest cultivated tree. For the people of Tamar’s area, the date palm held particular symbolic significance. This palm tree was straight, tall, and fertile and in many cases, it was the only shelter and only food available. There were groves of these trees having one of two kinds of leaves on them, male or female. For this reason, people viewed the date palm as a symbol of fertility. The date palm was also known for its healing qualities. The fruit of date palms was used to help women through pregnancy, to strengthen the bones of the elders, to help women through changes in late life, to ward off cancers and to keep bodies operating smoothly. They thought of the date palm as the Tree of Life. So her name, Tamar became a prophesy about who she was to become – a creator and a healer of lives. Read More
I had started writing this reflection a few days ago, but something kept me from posting it to my website. Perhaps, it was because I needed to go to Zoë’s last chemotherapy session first. A conversation with one of the husband’s there touched my heart. His wife was going through her third bout with cancer, this time in her throat. It was hard to get her to eat because nothing tasted good. He was beating himself up because he could not find a way to make food taste good to her. When you are on chemotherapy it affects your taste buds in ways you cannot describe to anyone else. For those preparing the food, it is a constant guessing game because what tasted good on Monday does not taste good on Tuesday. It can take the Zen out of cooking even for those who experience Zen while cooking.
Learning how to make things taste good for Zoe has challenged me to really listen to why something does not taste good, so I can think about what will make it taste good. This is what I had asked this gentleman. What are her complaints? Read More
If you have read my blog, you know that I am a chopped fanatic. Just about every episode I learn something new and exciting about food. I also learn a spiritual lesson in the process. The last few weeks have been a challenge in our kitchen and in my own way, I feel as if I have been on the chemo-care version of Chopped. I have no been given a basket of mystery ingredients from which I have to create an appetizer, entrée, and desert. Rather, Zoë’s taste buds are on a temporary vacation. It started a few weeks ago when most things started tasting like cardboard, and then I discovered the amazing ability of salt to take things from cardboard to palatable. I though I had it all worked out and could figure out how to create things that would make her enjoy eating again and not want to send the food back to the kitchen because it tastes like cardboard. Read More
It was about a week ago today that my wife Zoë received her first chemotherapy treatment. While she has been amazingly blessed with the minimal side effects she has experienced, the most significant has been a decrease in appetite. What she once enjoyed with reckless abandon, she does not desire. Things she once would not consider, she is now requesting. A few months ago, I was learning to adjust our meals to be low carb, low fat, diabetic, and vegetarian friendly meals. Now I am learning what ingredients are best at preventing the spread of cancer in one’s body and identifying what foods can be most helpful in treating what side effects. It is a completely new way of cooking.
The biggest symptom she has had is loss of appetite. Read More
The last few months have been an unexpected adventure in our lives. The beginning of August, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then our lives have been impacted in ways I could not even begin to imagine. Today, she had her first chemotherapy treatment. One of the things I have come to understand is the importance of preparing foods that will be nutritious for her regardless of how she is feeling in response to the chemotherapy. There may be days to come where she feels fine, days when she is tired, days when she is nauseous, and days when she does not feel like eating because of mouth sores.
Thinking about how to cook for her has definitely moved me outside of my comfort zone. After being with her for almost 10 years, I have mastered her taste buds and flavor profiles. Read More