Erica’s Cancer Journey: “Chomp – Gulp – ‘Bye”

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Have you ever desired some homemade pie, but couldn’t resolve the craving yourself by baking one? That used to be me. I had fears of crust complications and suffered from rolling-pin repulsion. After a baker’s dozen of sticky and dusty, floury failures, I stopped trying.

If you can relate, I have a filling for this week’s column that just might ins-pie-re you. One day, I discovered this pie-ce de résistance, and everything changed. Introducing Slacker Pie Crust! Its charming, (c)rustic look and delicious taste transformed me from a dough dork to a crust connoisseur.


½ cup of melted butter (or vegetable oil)
¼ cup of milk
½ teaspoon of salt
1 ½ cups of flour


Mix all of the ingredients together (I melt the butter in the pie plate in the microwave and mix everything in the same dish). Then press along the bottom and sides of the pan. That’s it. You’re ready to fill or prebake it at 350 degrees. Pinch off the edges, or make more dough for a crumb topping. It’s as easy as pie!

“A cherry pie is…ephemeral. From the moment it emerges from the oven
it begins a steep decline: from too hot to edible to cold to stale to mouldy, and finally to a post-pie state where only history can tell you that it was once considered food. The pie is a parable of human life.”

– Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World

I see parallels with Slacker Pie Crust in my cancer journey. The biggest one is that the impossible can be possible. Just as I couldn’t imagine pie crusts ever being in my future, I never expected I’d get terminal cancer, yet here we are. I never thought I’d get my family to Disney World, but we did, thanks to Inheritance of Hope. I never anticipated experiencing unendurable pain in my body, but I also never guessed I would surpass my pre-cancer weight levels at the gym. Not driving continues to be an intense struggle. Yet catching rides with friends brings me joy to spend that time together.

Making homemade pie invites me to be present, assembling the ingredients and creating the dessert step-by-step, just like organizing the who, what, where, when and hows of my daily schedule and our family calendar requires mindfulness. I am grateful for the wafts of aroma from the oven that draw my kids into the kitchen wondering when we get to eat! Meds swirl through my body like my love for this family fuses into the food.

No matter how we slice it, life is short. Perhaps we would all do well to follow Shel Silverstein’s example: “I might as well have one more piece of pie. / MMMM–OOOH–MY! / Chomp – Gulp – ‘Bye.”

Head On and Heart Strong!

Love, Erica

Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the Summer of 2015. To read more about her experience, visit

There is one comment

  1. Katy Corcoran

    Thanks for sharing your pie crust struggles. I can relate as mine are the homliest ever! I patch up the holes w blobs of crust…not natural looking.

    I am so sad u have this awful cancer struggle. You are young, active and always growing….just what this human race needs in the here and now! I know simple things are hard and it is a constant weight. I wish there was more that I could do to make life lighter for u. I pray for your comfort, peace and joy.

    I hope u call me for adventures and feel free to come over and float or swim(rides included in this offer ❤️)

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