Coping With Cancer: Edible Gifts

By Margaret Nyman

October 23, 2009

I don’t like to cook. Maybe that’s because I’ve had to do so much of it with a large family. Moms do what they have to do, though, and I’ve been thankful those at our table have been content with simple meals.

While growing up, I had no interest in watching Mom prepare meals and was irritated when she asked me to help. The truth is, I don’t think she liked to cook either. She loved having guests and was a champion at the people part of hostessing but usually forgot the rolls in the oven and often used ingredients well past their expiration dates. I’m sure I picked up on her negative cooking vibe and ever after have viewed meal prep as a never-ending chore.

Being the wife of someone with a rapidly growing cancer has taken my usual chore list, cut it into pieces and thrown those pieces into the wind. Although I can keep medical appointments straight, I fail to preheat the oven. I can remember which pills should be given when, but forget the grocery list when I go to the store.

But during the last month, all food confusion has been replaced with order. Better than that, we are eating like royalty. I haven’t had to cook for four weeks, because relatives, friends and neighbors have been doing it for me. Its spaghetti one night, cranberry chicken the next and barbecued meatballs after that. The kitchen counter looks like a bakery laden with lemon bars, apple crisp, fudge and chocolate chip cookies.

Linnea has spearheaded the cooking, or should I say the reheating, in our little kitchen, starting each morning with her happy question, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” As she asks, she’s looking into a freezer/refrigerator jam-packed with food made by women in other kitchens. It reminds me of the biblical children of Israel who entered the Promised Land in awe of God’s delightful description:

“The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant.”

That perfectly describes our family during these days of fabulous eating! Our kitchen is “richly stocked” with food we “did not produce.” Although it’s humbling to accept edible gifts in such ongoing volume, this blessing has freed me to sit with Nate. As I get whiffs of pot roast or honey ham floating from the kitchen, my heart sings, and the words “Dinner’s ready!” are the lyrics to that song.

Nate isn’t eating much these days, but what he does eat is nourishing, home-made goodness, thanks to our food angels. Many of the cooks have told me they’ve packed their food with prayers and longings for God’s supernatural touch on our situation. Their cooking and giving is a marvel to me. And we are literally gobbling up God’s blessings.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the [person] who takes refuge in him! O fear the Lord, you his saints, for to those who fear him there is no want.” (Psalm 34:8-9)

And to those of you who’ve baked, boiled and brought these consumable gifts, here’s what the Lord thinks of you:

“To do good and share, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

God is well pleased with you, and so are we! THANK YOU!

Guest contributor Margaret Nyman chronicles the 42 days after her husband Nate, a patient at Rush University Medical Center, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Read more posts by visiting the Coping With Cancer section or subscribing to the RSS feed. Her personal blog is at

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