Do's and Don'ts of Meal Support for Patients

May 24, 2016 Holly Porath

Treatment days and weeks are exhausting...not only for the patient, but for the family as well. It's important to remember that treatment for the patient isn't always a short car ride away. Most days take an entire day to drive there, wait hours past your appointment time, meet with the overbooked oncologist, endure hours of treatment, then finally drive home. 

Websites like allow friends and community to rally around the patient and their family. Whether you use a website like this or simply take over a meal on your own, it is a welcomed comfort. 

While every family is different and I'm sure there are many different views on this topic depending on who in the family is going through treatment. I can say from my experience of having a sick parent, that the meal help was invaluable for the rest of the family. My Dad drove my Mom to and from treatment which was 30 minutes each way. My youngest brother, Sean, was still in high school and living at home during this time. Life for him at school continued on. Homework, tests and sports do not stop just because you have a sick parent. When both parents are unable to cook dinner and there are children in school, meal support is one of the most helpful things friends can do. Here are some things to keep in mind when wanting to help with a meal:

DO make sure there are no food allergies before deciding what to make.

DON'T ask the family what they want to eat - they will likely feel guilty and are happy receiving whatever you feel like making.

DO make them something comforting - casseroles and pot roasts are hearty and good for the soul.

DON'T worry about providing the perfectly anti-cancer healthy meal. 

DO bring a meal that is good leftover or easy to freeze.

DON'T schedule meals too often during the week - many times there are leftovers that can go to waste when too much food is being brought over.

DO use disposable dishes so the family doesn't have to hassle with cleanup.

DON'T bring the meal over too late - have it delivered in the morning or early afternoon so that the food can be heated once treatment is done.

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