Six Months Later

My six month check up with my radiologist was this afternoon, and all went well.  He was extremely pleased with how well I am doing and we spent about 30 minutes talking about food. He was excited to see me so he could “learn something new today”, so I filled him in on my trip to the McDougall Advanced Study weekend and the latest books I’ve read.  I told him to read “The Starch Solution”, so we’ll have something to talk about in six months.

My blood pressure was 92/60, and upon examination, he said that my chest wall was “perfectly normal”. Hmmm. Perfectly normal except for the missing breasts, I suppose! We did have a lovely conversation, however, although he dared to ask the dreaded question: “Where do you get your protein?” My response:  “You did not just say that!!”

It was great to get a good report… and he said that he thought my risk of recurrence was low. Woo hoo! Let’s hope he’s right!

I meant to ask him about the cataract / radiation correlation but forgot with all our other chatter. I guess I’ll put it on the list for next time.

*****

IMDb Six Months Later (2005)

 

Eyes Wide Shut

I have been long overdue for an eye exam, having put it off during chemo and then procrastinated in getting it on the calendar. So today was finally the day. I knew my vision had worsened and I, of course, blame my cancer treatment for part of it.

Is there really a correlation? I have no idea. But my floaters have been worse since treatment and I really try to avoid driving (much to my husband’s dismay), especially at night, because I haven’t been seeing as well as I once did. It’s been 14 years since I had my LASIK procedure, and at the age of 51, I guess I can’t complain too much.

So after my exam, which included dilation and putting the 50,000 watt lights in my eyes, I learned that my vision isn’t as bad as I thought.  Both my distance and near vision have declined, and I have some cataracts forming. I’m a little young for that and his recommendations were to wear my sunglasses more often (admittedly I’m bad about that) and to take vitamin C.

He also suggested a pair of cheaters for when I need help up close, and he gave me a prescription for a pair for when distance is a problem (driving, movies, etc.). I don’t need either all the time, but it will require toting two pair of glasses around. This is better than the option proposed by the student who first examined me: bifocals! The doctor didn’t think I was ready for that, thankfully.

Which brings me to my gripe for the night… the students. I totally understand they need to learn, but I just don’t think it needs to be at my expense every time I go. I am SO light sensitive and I find it extremely painful to have those mega watt lights shone into my eyes. Once is bad enough, but twice?? Usually I just submit to both, and then I get mad at myself for not speaking up. Today was different though! I was cranky after being there for 2 hours and I said “no”. I didn’t want my dilated eyeballs subjected twice. (It actually felt pretty good that they actually honored my request!)

 

When I got home, I had to do some Googling on cancer treatment and eye problems. Where I was blaming chemo, it was interesting to read that cataracts can form from steroids and radiation.  Eye problems and cancer

bright light

*****

It’s been another night of baking for me.  Tomorrow is a “bake off” at work, so I did a lemon pie (I’m an expert now) and the wonderful vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (recipe has been featured in this blog numerous times).  I also made the zesty quinoa salad again for another work party.

One of the things that I learned recently on Facebook that helped me with my lemon pies is the secret to successfully and easily separating the egg yolks from the whites.  Check this out:  Eggs

And while we’re on tips, here’s another for slicing tomatoes.  Where have these tricks been my whole life?  :)  Tomatoes

*****

IMDb Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

The Bake Shop Ghost

Who knew baking was such an emotional activity?

Today was a planned day off — primarily for grocery shopping and baking cookies for Easter. I have learned that baking, at least for me, is not a solitary activity. I am used to chatting with my mom, discussing everything imaginable while we baked, including baking stuff.  Is the dough too sticky / wet / too dry?  Should we add a little more of… something…?  Do they look like they need a few more minutes in the oven?  We were also a tag team on the rolling out of cookies and getting them in and out of the oven.  We worked side-by-side, each picking up where the other left off — seamlessly.  Being a solo act was tough, and my early morning baking was not without tears.  Eventually I got myself together and made some good progress.

First: Two batches of peanut butter blossoms.  These I have made a hundred times but today they came out a a little flat for some reason (old baking soda?).  They otherwise looked good and tasted great.

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Next up: Two batches of sugar cookies…this is first for me, at least in terms of the dough. These came out great and the best compliment of all?  When the kids (my son and niece) came in after school and said “oh!  the house smells like Grandma’s!!”.  The cookies passed their muster, so I was pretty happy about that.

Lastly (at least for cookies): One batch of shortbreads.  These are my sister-in-law’s favorite and, since she took on the pierogies, I thought it was the least I could do.  Those came out great also, with only one casualty:  a tray of cookies that got too brown because I was multi-tasking and missed the timer.

Then it was on to decorating the sugar cookies.  The kids helped for a while, but they eventually got tired and quit. Thankfully, my aunt came to visit and she helped me finish the decorating.  I also got to enjoy looking through lots of old pictures with my aunt (she was able to identify a lot of people I didn’t know), and we shared a few more tears.  It felt good to talk about Mom, walk down memory lane, and spend some quality time with my aunt.

When all was said and done, the sugar cookies looked beautiful and I know my mom is smiling down on us.  She would be so proud!

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After clean up, I baked my first lemon pie.  Feeling pretty accomplished today!

photo (35)

Oh, and in case you are wondering, there isn’t anything healthy about any of the above!  (But, hey, it’s the holidays!)  :)

 *****

IMDb The Bake Shop Ghost (2009)

Empty Chair

How is it that Easter has suddenly crept up on us?  It seemed so far away and yet, here we are. Holy Week. I must admit that I am totally not ready. Not physically, and certainly not emotionally. This is it: our first holiday without Mom.

We are doing our best to keep up all the traditions, but I have no idea how my mother did it all. True she was a stay-at-home mom most of her life, but even in her later years, she did a tremendous amount of work.  In fact, she did pretty much everything.  And so we go about trying to split the work between us.

I made the seasonal pickled eggs for my Dad, and my sister-in-law, Sandy, made her second batch of homemade pierogies.  (I got off easy on that one.)  Friday, we will have to hard boil our own eggs for coloring (yes, Mom even did that for us… including getting all the supplies ready for us), and we’ve got things covered for our fish dinner Friday night.

My Dad decided that he still wants to do the tradition of getting a basket blessed on Saturday, even though he has never gone to do that in my memory.  It was always me and Mom.  But I will indulge him this, although I will not be making a second ham to include in the basket.  We will make do with a few simple items: kielbasi, eggs, bread, butter, horseradish.  But we will honor this tradition.

Sunday dinner.  Sandy and I have split the tasks on this one, evenly splitting the dinner items, as well as desserts.  I’ll be baking (or at least attempting) Mom’s world famous sugar cookies.  Of course, we do not remember the recipe for the icing, so we’ll have to see what Google can come up with.  I’ll also be baking the peanut butter blossom cookies, and also attempting a lemon pie. I guess I’ll do a practice run before the weekend arrives.

I understand that many of you reading this are thinking “big deal”.  I am sure so many of you tackle the whole dinner thing on your own, and then some. But we have been spoiled rotten by many years of Mom doing all the work. She loved every minute of it and she was the focal point of every single holiday. It’s not so much her cooking we’ll miss, but her presence.

I am grateful that my church sent me the book “The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions” by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge, RN, Ed.D., and Robert C. DeVries, D.Min., PhD.  I am working my way through it this week, and am appreciative of the reflections.  The book speaks to my heart and it is nice to see my feelings put into words better than I could do it myself.  It’s going to be a difficult week, but I pray that we can find some peace in the joy that is the Easter season. Mom would have wanted it that way.

empty chair

*****

So in my pickled egg adventure, I Google’d how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs. Historically, I just boil the hell out of them, not really timing them.  I thought this method, from our dear Martha Stewart, was much easier, and very effective:  Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

But you already knew that, didn’t you?  :)

So what are your Easter traditions?

*****

IMDb Empty Chair (2015)

The Winning Team

I have the best team in the world!  They really are awesome for lots of reasons, but today we came together for a “build a salad” day.  Everyone signed up to bring an ingredient, and we had the best salad bar I have ever seen! We all enjoyed a healthy lunch together and there was even a banner to congratulate the 2013 healthy team winners.  It was very enjoyable, and healthy to boot!  We even have enough left over to do it again tomorrow.

Since I was a late-comer to the sign up sheet, all the easy stuff was taken.  I wanted to bring a unique item, so I searched for something I could do with quinoa.  I found a recipe for Zesty Quinoa Salad, and I thought it was great.

*****

I was looking back at my blog from a year ago and it was this time last year that I went “scarf-less” for the first time.  It was a huge step for me, since my hair was still SO short, but I was just so sick of wearing them.  Hard to believe it was this short just a year ago.

april 2013

Although I have to say it hasn’t grown quite the way I’d like.  The bangs, which I want to grow fast have not been cut in 15 months and are creeping finally to a decent length. The sides and back, that I don’t want to grow, needs to be cut every couple weeks.  I’m not complaining — I always said I’d never have another bad hair day!  I guess I’m just happy that I have hair and that it came in pretty much the same as it was pre-chemo.

*****

The days continue to fly by.  I’m glad tomorrow’s Friday, but I wish the time would slow down just a bit so I can get caught up.  Next week is Easter and I am not ready.  It’s also my hubby’s birthday.  Um, nope.  Not ready for that either.  (Sorry, David!)  I’m trying to just breathe and take it one thing at a time, but that’s easier said than done.  I guess at some point I’ll catch up.

*****

IMDb The Winning Team (1952)

 

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

Just kidding!  It’s really 10 questions for me!

My friend and co-worker, Steve Albert, who blogs on “Not Cease from Exploration”, asked me if he could interview me on his blog.  I was honored by his request and accepted the challenge (I didn’t really know what kinds of questions I would get…)  The questions were fun and interesting, and I had a blast answering them.

You can catch the full post here:  10 Questions from the author of Lights Cancer Action!

Many thanks to Steve for his interest and continued readership!!  While you are there, feel free to check out Steve’s blog.  You can find a link also under my “Friends” tab.

IMDb 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (2006)

Lullaby

I was listening to the Billy Joel channel on Sirius radio this past weekend and he was talking about his song, “Lullaby”. He said that when his daughter was young, and he was going through his divorce, she asked him about death: what would happen to her if he should die? He explained to her that any time she sang one of his songs, he would always be there in her heart, and that he would live on through her (paraphrased since my short term memory issues don’t allow me to remember the exact words!). Of course, I’ve heard similar stories before, and certainly everyone talks about how our loved ones are always with us. I totally get that, but for some reason, this story really struck me, and I thought a lot about it these past few days.  Maybe it’s because it was paired with this beautiful music.  (By the way, there are so many songs on this Billy Joel channel that I have never heard before!  Was I living under a rock??)  Anyway, since it’s bedtime, here’s the link to Lullaby.

Goodnight, my angel
Now it’s time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

Someday we’ll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on…
They never die
That’s how you
And I
Will be

And so with my mom, she does live on through us with every recipe, with every picture.  With every tradition, every memory.

*****

Some quick notes on my blog… In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to work on the format.  Since I only slapped it together when I started in August 2012, I thought it needed a face lift if I was going to stick around a while.  So you will notice the new tabs across the top.  I still need to go back and categorize 350 or so posts, but I will do a little at a time.  This way it will be easier if you are want to peruse recipes or are looking for something a little more specific. Additionally, I’ve created links to some of the best resources I have used (and will continue to add), and links to a few of my favorite blogs under “friends”.

For those of you with a Facebook account, please “like” my new FB page “Lights Cancer Action”. And lastly, thank you to my new book “WordPress: the missing manual”, I have finally figured out how to do hyperlinks.  omg.  I’m an idiot and can’t believe it took me this long… but it works differently than I have used the functionality elsewhere, so I am going easy on myself.  But really.  :)

*****

IMDb Lullaby (2008)