Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tupperware--The Lasting Legacy of Cancer

Yes, years later we still have the Tupperware. The real, name brand kind with color-coded lids, and the Glad-ware kind with blue lids and the kind that is numbered so you match the numbers on the tubs to the numbers on the lids. (It is true that I did not know there was a numbering system for years—years!)

Some of our plastic storage ware is still stained from all the tomato sauces. So very much food in red sauce comes to cancer families: spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli and cheese, and absolute tsunami of lasagna.

We tried to return the dishes to their rightful owners but it became impossible. A lot of food was in the freezer a long time and then we were stumped trying to remember who gave what. I have never seen this tip in a cancer caregiver book but it should be there: Please Mark your Dishes!

The easiest solution is to send food in those aluminum pans that can be crushed and tossed. Yes, I know that you are trying to be green but recycling is a low priority in CancerLand. Recycling can happen in remission but not while we’re a blur of chemo appointments, neuropathy and anxiety attacks.

So, if you are sending a meal to a patient or family the next best thing is to label your pan or bowl. Masking tape on the bottom with your name will do. But another great thing I saw a few folks do was to put a label on the bottom of their dish and also write, “Please return this dish to Susie Smith” or “Lasagna from Susie Smith—no need to return this pan.”  Those labels allow your other friends to be helpful too. So many friends and neighbors want something simple to do to be helpful  and an easy task is, “Please wash the dishes and get the pans back to where they came from.”

A really good friend will just take a sink load of dirty dishes in her car and sort it out at home. That’s caring help.

But here we are years later, I’m putting away the leftovers from tonight’s spicy salmon supper—a meal neither of could have stomached (literally) in the big chemo days—and I see all those blue lids and the rosy tomato-stained tubs and I laugh. It’s a sign of survival and the oddest souvenir from our long visit to CancerLand.

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