One of my friends has terminal cancer. No further chemo is possible, and his oncologist has referred him to a pain management specialist. I feel helpless that, medically, there is very little that can be done. He is such a brave, kind, and wonderful person; he does not deserve this.
In my hours of pondering my friend and his situation, what finally came into my mind was “BRAT”. For those of you who, like me, have a fussy stomach, you might know that “BRAT” is medical shorthand for a diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This is generally recommended for folks who are having difficulty eating, which my friend now does.
How does “BRAT” apply to me and my relationship to my friend? Well, in Sonoma County, we have recently ended the Gravenstein apple season. In my personal opinion, Gravenstein apples make the very best applesauce. So, over the last couple of months, I have been converting organic Gravenstein apples from local growers in Sebastopol into chunky, homemade, low sugar applesauce and canning it. The cans are given to my friend so that he has them available in his pantry when he needs them.
Additionally, since my friend loves blackberry jam, I have taken my dog Blue, and haunted the area back roads to pick blackberries on the weekends and convert them into jam. Through my efforts, in addition to applesauce, my friend will also have homemade blackberry jam to put on bagels, which comprise the “toast” portion of his diet.
Preparing special foods that my friend likes and can eat is a very small thing to do, in light of what he is facing. The special foods that I prepare will not prevent the cancer from eventually taking my friend. They will not keep the pain away. But, in some small way, perhaps by preparing foods that he loves and can eat, it will provide him, as well as me, some small measure of comfort and an acknowledgement that he is loved and that he means a lot to people.
It is a small thing, but, sometimes, all that you can do in the face of such a devastating prognosis is what you “can”.