Annual Thanksgiving lunch brings together patients, families and staff

N.C. Cancer Hospital's 8th annual Thanksgiving Family Lunch offers a meal, community and a moment to reflect for 300 patients and caregivers.

Annual Thanksgiving lunch brings together patients, families and staff click to enlarge This year's Thanksgiving Family Lunch included a full-course, sit-down meal for 150 patients and their caregivers.
Annual Thanksgiving lunch brings together patients, families and staff click to enlarge The meal also offered a special Blessing of the Caregiver's Hands and a moment for patients to thank their caregivers for their support and care.

For many patients, a trip to the N.C. Cancer Hospital can be a stressful time, one filled with appointments, exams and treatments. On Friday, Nov. 16, however, the mood was festive for the more than 300 patients and their family members who were treated to a Thanksgiving lunch hosted by the Mary Anne Long Patient and Family Resource Center.

The eighth annual Thanksgiving Family Lunch provided 150 patients and their caregivers a full-course, sit-down turkey lunch, including roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and vegetables, as well as a dessert buffet, served by the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program and many volunteers with the Patient and Family Resource Center.

The Patient and Family Resource Center team also brought meals to 200 patients – and their caregivers – who were in the outpatient clinics receiving treatment or were in the inpatient units and unable to leave, carrying on a tradition started last year. While Alan Grier of Patient Services quietly played his guitar, volunteers Bill Derey and Bill Little served patients and their caregivers a lunch of macaroni and cheese, fruit cobblers and apple cider.

Hospital Chaplain Rev. Steven Chewning offered a special Blessing of the Caregiver's Hands during the lunch, and patients were invited to thank their caregivers for the care they provided. The luncheon also featured music by Steven Fishman and Alison Weiner and a raffle for Butterball turkeys and holiday gift baskets from Target.

Tina Shaban, RN, BSN, OCN, manager of UNC Lineberger's Comprehensive Cancer Support Program Patient and Family Resource Center, said the meal provides patients and their caregivers both a break and a moment to join together and celebrate the joys of family and tradition.

"It is important for our families to remember the special events in life that they hold dear and the pieces of life that have great importance to them," said Shaban. "The diagnosis of cancer has the ability to block out many of components of life that our families have cherished. [The lunch] is simply a special way to remember to look for the brighter spots in each day...to remember and celebrate life's special moments."

The luncheon was organized by Patient and Family Resource Center's Pam Baker, Marianne Baskaron, Sharon Bigelow and Shaban. The dessert buffet was created by Loretta Muss, Patient and Family Advisory Council coordinator, and members of the council.

Beginning with the first event in 2011, UNC Hospitals Catering has partnered with the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program to serve the luncheon. This year's catering team was led by Justin Williams and Jill Fong and included Debra Griffin, Darius Cotton, Stacey Mayfield, Brittani McDonald, Aaron Clark, and Clear Gamble.