Staying Alive

I’m reblogging a post from my dear friend, Lisa. It’s not just anyone I re-blog… but Lisa and I are part of the sisterhood that is breast cancer and we have had very similar journeys. Lisa is the one who educated me about Estriol and she also got me using essential oils — both a great benefit to my health. She will be holding a Facebook class on Monday night, “Essential Oils That Have Let Me Thrive in Recovery”. If you’ve had any interest in essential oils, I Hope you will check out her class. You can see the details in her post.

P.S. Lisa, nice job on the post name! :)


john travolta staying alive

It’s been many, many moons since I wrote a post. But when I had someone reach out with a personal e-mail asking for advice and hoping I was still doing well, I knew I had to get back to writing regularly. It’s nice to have folks care about how I’m doing after all this time.

Last weekend marked 3 years since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The day came and went without much fanfare, until I sat down that night and realized what a huge milestone that actually is. I know that 5 years is the magical number for survival odds to greatly increase, but hey, I’m on the downward slope now and I can see the prize.

I guess you could say I’m doing fantastically well, which is part of the reason for my long blogging hiatus. There hasn’t been much to report other than the…

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Love in the Kitchen

Today is the second anniversary of my mom’s death. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her tremendously.  Not surprisingly, I feel closest to my mother when I am in the kitchen. Mom was always in the kitchen and some of my favorite childhood memories involve baking. She also frequently baked with the kids, especially my two nieces, and you could always count on some cookie dough in the fridge or a dessert on the counter. She knew everyone’s favorite pie or favorite cookie, and she was always making someone’s favorite for a special occasion. Or just because.

Mom was a fabulous cook and baker and I frequently talk to her while I am preparing meals or making a dessert. I ask her for guidance and try channel her skills, although I think I’m a little better with a sharp knife. (Inside joke.) I wonder what she would think of the meals I prepare, and I know she would be proud. In fact, I know she would love each new recipe. Prior to her passing, when I tried a new recipe, I would drop some off at the house for her to sample. I miss being able to do that. She loved to learn and I know she would have been interested in all the new recipes and techniques and gadgets I have accumulated.

Just this week, three new recipes, using new ingredients and new gadgets.

  • Portobello Pot Roast from A Virtual Vegan – definitely a keeper and relatively easy to make.  Just need to make it on a day that there’s nothing going on, since it does need an hour in the oven.  Growing up, I always loved the carrots that cooked my mom’s pot roast.  The carrots in this recipe were ever so close to that — with no meat or fat!
  • Festive Stuffed Shells from The Jazzy Vegetarian Cookbook – Stuffed shells with no cheese?? Say what?? These were delicious.  Another add to the rotation. It helped to bake the potatoes the night before. The recipe says use 4 potatoes; I actually used 5 and that “just” made the 3 cups.  Might want to make more to be safe.
  • Holy Mole Black Bean Soup from Vegan Under Pressure Cookbook – I wasn’t sure what to make of this one.  It intrigued me from the list of ingredients… could these things possibly go together? So I took a chance, and we really enjoyed it.  Ingredients include: onion, cacao powder, jalapeño, dates, peanut butter and fire roasted tomatoes. Spices: chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, cumin and thyme.  We loved the creamy texture and blend of flavors. It was my first foray into using dried beans and the instructions were great for using the Instant Pot. Of course, I got home late, and this recipe books some time to prepare, so we ate late. I do think it was worth the wait, but next time I need to remember to a) soak the dates in advance, and b) soak the beans overnight. Luckily, the instructions on the bag of beans had a “quick soak” option that worked well.

A few other quick notes:

Dad’s biopsy has finally been scheduled for March 3rd.  No one called, but he got a letter in the mail. Unfortunately, the letter only tells us the date and location, but no time.  *sigh*

Finally got my tumor marker results — normal range.  *whew*

IMDb: Love in the Kitchen (1899)


The Waiting Game

As some of you may remember, a few years ago my father was treated for a malignancy of his perotid gland (near his left ear) in 2013.  He also had treatment for skin cancer on his face in 2014. And now, as we enter 2016, we are facing another cancer diagnosis.

Later last year my dad had some scans done as part of his normal cancer follow up care. There was “something” on the chest CT, but it really didn’t look like much and the decision was made to repeat the test in a few months and see if there was any change. He repeated his CT scan at the end of January and it was determined that a PET scan was now necessary because that “something” had turned in to a little more.  My brain, of course, immediately went to cancer… why else would they request a PET scan?

So that test was done a two Fridays ago, and by that following Monday the doctor had called with results. It was definitely some sort of cancer, but it wasn’t clear from imaging what kind. We had to wait a few days for the doctor to meet with the weekly review board on next steps. It was determined that Dad should have a consultation with a thoracic surgeon to review the options for a biopsy.

We waited another week and finally got in to see the thoracic surgeon today.  She confirmed again that it is cancer and explained that the biopsy was necessary to confirm what type so we can make informed decisions on treatment. She explained that the cancer is in the lining of the rib cage ~ in the pleura. She described “lumps and bumps” in the lymph nodes and vessels in this lining.  Possible causes were identified as a spread from a prior cancer, a new cancer, or mesothelioma. (After some discussion, we came to agreement that Dad likely had contact with asbestos when working with insulation many years ago at a lumber company.)

The options presented to us were a) do nothing, b) do a needle biopsy, or c) do a surgical biopsy. Her recommendation was the needle biopsy as a starting point. We are trying to avoid surgery at all costs, given Dad’s age and health. As such, the needle biopsy has the least risk, but, unfortunately, the sample size is smaller than surgical, so there’s a chance they won’t get enough to actually confirm a diagnosis.  If that happens, we would have to decide on whether we should take the risk of the surgical biopsy.

Dad was comfortable with the decision and was very pragmatic about “doing what we need to do.”  We are back to wait-mode in terms of getting the biopsy scheduled, but it’s anticipated this will occur in the next 1-2 weeks. Then we’ll wait for results and see what our options and next steps are.

We appreciate your prayers and good thoughts as we wait.

(Please note that my father gave me permission to share these details.)


IMDb: The Waiting Game (1999)

Are You Listening?

Another frustrating six-month check up at the oncologist… She’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I can never quite guess which will show up with each visit.  I should have know which would arrive today, when she showed up at 8:55 for a 7:50 appointment. I mean, who is that far off schedule at that time of the day? So, of course, she’s rushed and I have to wonder how well she is listening to me.  I hate that everyone in this office faces the computer and types while trying to ask you questions. Can you possibly be listening to me when you are typing a hundred words a minute?  I tend to go to silence to make them turn around once in a while.

When she asks how I’m feeling, I launch into a story about how I’ve been sick with this sinus thing for about 5 days, but am starting to feel better.  I tell her how my husband has been sick for two weeks and he even took an antibiotic. “No antibiotic for me”, I brag, explaining how I’ve been trying to fight it off with natural remedies. But the sinus thing seems to have messed up my lymphatic system so I do have a flare up of my lymphodema.

She turns around and says “I think you should do a week of antibiotics.”  No joke.

Blank stare.

I couldn’t even bring myself to ask if she listened to a word I just said. I mean, she was busy typing and all. So I just continued to look at her quizzically.

Finally, she got the hint and came up with a plan I liked better.  Continue the lymphatic massage (which was helping) and if my lymphodema condition worsens (fever, redness, area warm to the touch), then I can call for an antibiotic.  I’ll take what’s behind curtain number two, doc. (I’ve also been applying lemon essential oils, but I didn’t tell her that.  It’s not like she would listen or understand.)

The only other suggestion from her was to ask my GYN to have my hormone levels checked because I’m using the Estriol cream. First, you think she would have mentioned that last time we talked about this. Second, I do get my hormone levels checked… by my naturalist.  I didn’t think she’d listen to that, so I didn’t tell her. But seriously, she fried my ovaries… I don’t think getting too much Estriol is going to be a problem when taking the prescribed dosage.

An hour and a half after arrival, I learned all is well.  Blood work is good and blood pressure cruising at  104/52. I’m grateful, as always, for the good news. I do realize I sounded a little “Mr. Hyde” myself, but is it too much to ask that our doctors listen to us?

IMDb: Are You Listening? (1932)