Cooking and Caregiving With Rich and Kerry: A Breast Cancer Love Story
Rich Apicella helped Kerry through breast cancer by staying flexible.(KERRY APICELLA)Being a caregiver for someone with breast cancer is sort of like having to whip up a decent dinner with whatever happens to be in the fridge. Some days are good days, and the patient finds herself full of energy and feeling like her old self. Other days are dark and weary, as the residual effects of chemo drugs, radiation, or post-op soreness ripple through her body. Caregivers have to adjust and wing it with the day's surprise "ingredients."
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Most Sundays, you're likely to find breast cancer caregiver/husband Rich Apicella improvising dinner in his Manhattan kitchen. He calls it his Iron Chef impression, "New Yawk style." He's got pots simmering on the stove, maybe something going in the oven—a regular, old-school Sunday food-fest in the Italian tradition. Some days he's browning up fresh sausage, other days he's winging it with leftover spaghetti fried up in a pan. Whoever shows up to eat, whatever's he's got, he'll make it work.
"I wanted to be very stoic."(KERRY APICELLA)That kind of creative flexibility came in handy when Rich's wife, Kerry, 62, was diagnosed in 2005 and found herself hopscotching from lumpectomy to chemo to radiation. "I had a great support system but I kept them at a distance," Kerry Apicella admits. "Personally, I wanted to be very stoic and felt if I leaned too hard it might scare them, especially my daughters."
Rich took his cue from her. "My husband was quiet but a positive influence," says Kerry. "He was always willing to listen when necessary and encouraged me by boasting to everyone how well I was handling treatment." And he kept up with his "pasta Sundays" tradition—not every week, but enough so that Kerry could take comfort in some cherished family routines. Not to mention enjoying a good meal.