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Lessen Your Stress with a Thanksgiving Potluck

Thanksgiving Turkey

If you have hosted Thanksgiving at your house for many years, you may assume you have to re-enact the same celebration this year.

But if you’re battling mesothelioma or caring for someone who is, then you may not have the energy or interest in preparing for and hosting such a big event.

People with mesothelioma may feel exhausted from their treatments or medication side effects. Caregivers may also run out of steam from making sure their loved ones are kept comfortable and healthy — sometimes at the cost of their own well-being.

But for this time-consuming holiday, a Thanksgiving potluck dinner may be the solution for people with cancer and those who care for them.

Choose a Role with Less Stress on Thanksgiving

Ask family and friends if they would be interested in playing host, while everyone else brings a dish.

This way, you won’t miss out on the big Thanksgiving celebration, and you won’t be exhausted and ornery by the end of the day.

Or maybe you’re up for hosting but not all the cooking and baking. Some people with mesothelioma may experience symptoms like breathlessness from the constant standing and squatting to check the oven, reaching cupboards to grab canned goods or moving back and forth from kitchen to dining room.

For caregivers, all those tasks may keep them from their loved ones who really need the attention.

If that’s the case, consider doing some of the cleaning and prep work in advance, and then you can focus on relaxing the day of the Thanksgiving dinner.

Prepare in Advance for Your Thanksgiving Potluck

Once you spread the word about the Thanksgiving potluck, it’s time to start thinking about what you will bring.

Mesothelioma can drain the energy right out of the best of us — even the heartiest cooks and bakers. If at all possible, prepare your dish or baked goods in advance. This will conserve your precious energy for the big day and allow you to enjoy catching up with friends and family.

If you choose to bring a hot dish, maybe you can prepare it in advance and pop it in the oven just before dinner. If you’re up for making a pie, that’s an easy one to prepare in advance that will be ready to grab and go. (I’m also giving you permission to buy pie and ice cream for the potluck!)

Some grocery stores sell hot, ready-to-serve Thanksgiving meals. This is another good route for mesothelioma patients and caregivers. Just remember to order in advance and make sure you’ve got drinks, paper plates and silverware.

Recipes for Thanksgiving Potluck

I’ve contributed to my own Thanksgiving potluck for many years now.

My mom, who now lives close by in Florida, hosts Thanksgiving, and I bring a dish or a pie (and ice cream, of course).

A couple of my favorite contributions to Thanksgiving include:

Corn Pudding

This one is super easy to make and delicious to eat!

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (14-3/4 ounces) cream-style corn

Heat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between. Beat in sour cream. Gradually add muffin mix alternately with milk. Fold in corn.

Bake in a greased 8-by-8 baking dish (or 9-by-9). Bake uncovered 45-50 minutes or until set and lightly browned.

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

I’m not trying to insult your intelligence by including the recipe off the can of pumpkin. This is actually the pie recipe I use every Thanksgiving! I usually double it and make two pies.

  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

Broccoli Salad

This is a super yummy recipe I got from a co-worker awhile back. It’s full of nutrition and takes just a few minutes to put together.

  • Bag of fresh broccoli
  • ¼ cup Craisins
  • 3-4 slices bacon, crumbled
  • Handful of sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup coleslaw dressing

Cut the broccoli, if needed, into bite-sized pieces. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


Jennifer Mia has been writing and editing for more than 15 years. She has worked for newspapers, magazines and online publications. When she was in college, she lost a brother to cancer, and now she writes blogs for The Mesothelioma Center. Jennifer hopes that her writing brings some small amount of hope and healing to the many men and women who are forced to deal with this horrible cancer. Read More

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