by Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner
Executive Director, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
The holidays are approaching, and the dreaded holiday feasts begin. The mesothelioma patient who is undergoing chemo, or perhaps has not regained their appetite, can be very uncomfortable sitting at a table laden with holiday goodies and an expectation that they will dive in with relish.
So what tips can we provide for those of you preparing the meal? If you are fortunate enough to have a full set of china, pull out those 7-8 inch luncheon plates and set the table. If not, thrift shops have a ton of mismatched sets that you can put together to create a unique holiday-scape. Placing a scant amount of food on a smaller dish gives the appearance of a well laden plate, thus making the patient‘s lack of appetite less apparent to others at the table. If you are pouring a holiday cocktail, move to sherry glasses. Your guests can refill, and the patient again can enjoy some holiday indulgence (check in with the medical staff or pharmacist for possible medication interactions with alcohol). Most cancer patients can enjoy a glass of wine, which can help in terms of relaxation and appetite stimulation.
If you have been stretched to the limit with your caregiving activities and are hosting the holidays, not only enlist your guests to prepare an entrée or appetizer, but consider catering some or part of the meal. This is a time to enjoy your family and friends, and to do so means that you have to ease some of the burden that you carry. Perhaps you are like me – someone who truly takes pleasure in the whole process of cooking, planning and executing the meals. If so, then you may require some respite care with your caregiving duties. This is a perfect time to call upon friends or family members to assist. You can consider hiring someone to help around the house in whatever capacity you need. A patient in this role can ask friends and family that they work well with to be their “kitchen assistants” and do more of the directing and tasting of the courses to be served.
Often, we get so caught up in the gifting and the appearances of the perfect holiday that we forget the true spirit of it. How simple would it be to request that, in lieu of gifts this year, you would like to plan an evening out with close friends and family?
This is your holiday to plan and enjoy – savor all the joy of the season.