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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Magic!!!!!

Magic!

There's something magic
In just the thought!
It seems so ordinary,
So small,
So everyday ---
Thee is something magic,
Something that changes
The way I feel,
The way I think
When I remember
Those special days
When Opoe made
Those large,
Soft,
Luscious
Cookies!
"Just One,"
She always said,
But somehow ---
Somehow I managed
To get two ---
Two of those great big,
Soft,
Chewy,
"Boterkoek" cookies!
And as I waited --
Patiently ---
She told me all about
Windmills,
Canals,
And poor children
in Holland.
I listened,
Politely, I think,
But mostly,
I ate.
I loved these buttery cookies!
More than any other
Cookie,
I loved Opoe's boterkoek
Best of all!

There's something magic
In just the thought
Of Opoe's
Boterkoek!
Something that drives me
To try to bring
Back to life
The memories of
Those bygone days.
Nothing else will do ---
No Oreo,
No Soft Batch,
No Toll House,
No Nutter Butter
Can still the stirring
Deep within my heart.

When once I get
That magic feeling
That I need to taste
Once more
A really big
And tasty Boterkoek
Like Opoe used to make --

I BAKE!!!!

--Cora


One of my all time favorite. . . .cookies???. . . . has to be BoterKoek. This means Butter Cake in Dutch. But to me, it's more like a butter cookie bar. Crisp on the outside, chewy and soft on the inside. A little more dense than a brownie. Why they call it cake is beyond me. My sister made this yesterday and it is just too good . . .melt in your mouth good . . . .who care's if you get fat good . . . .!!!!!

12 servings 50 min 20 min prep

2/3 cup butter or margarine or half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (I like 2 1/2 teaspoons in mine!)
1 egg, beaten (reserve 1 tsp)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sliced almonds, for garnish (optional but not the same with it)

In medium bowl, mix together butter, sugar and almond extract.
Add beaten egg except for 1 teaspoon.
Sift flour and baking powder, and add to bowl, mixing with wet ingredients.
Put dough in greased 9 inch pie plate.
Mix the reserved 1 tsp of beaten egg with 1 tsp of water, and brush over dough.
Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. (My Oma always used the almonds, it looks pretty and adds a nice touch!).
Bake at 350 degress for 25-30 minutes or until done (firm to the touch).
This is a dense cake (like a bar cookie or hard brownie), but should be soft on the inside and hard on the outside, but not too hard!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching Up!

I didn't know that it would be so hard to just be honest and say things just as they are. I guess I was brought up with the "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all!" --- And I really haven't had much that's NICE to say during the past weeks. And THAT is to my shame, isn't it?

Here, I've had good health, beautiful weather, all my needs supplied, a dog who worships the ground I walk on, a God who loves me, and air conditioning. What more could I ask for?????

But when you have finally admitted to yourself that you are a food addict and have a major problem with denying yourself ANYTHING that is edible, then there is a LOT you could ask for. In fact, it seems that as the weeks go by, the more foods you find that are low enough in calories to fit into the diet, the more it tastes like fodder. At first, I talked myself into liking cabbage, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprounts, and all the other sprouts. I told myself I liked the 0 calorie miracle noodles. And yes, there ARE 1001 ways to cook boneless, skinless, tasteless chicken breasts. I'm just so glad I have a sister who is honest like me. Most of our conversations lately have centered around the horrible plight of our diets, the fact that the scale is NOT rewarding our starvation efforts, and making daily lists of all the stuff we miss. Too bad we didn't have a tape recorder going. It would make a Number One Best Seller for anyone playing with the thought of going on a diet!

I did have my 3 month appointment with the oncologist who dared to bring up the subject of dieting. That was Friday, the 9th ---- 77 days after starting the diet. I did feel like a winner, having lost 31 pounds on my own WITHOUT the surgery he suggested. He did make a big deal about it, was very happy, encouraged me on, blah, blah blah. . . . . but I did tell him that he had slipped to the very bottom of my list of people I liked!!!!! He didn't seem to care at all.

31 pounds. . . . NOT ONCE during those 77 days did I cheat. NOT A MORSEL! I really had expected to lose more than that, but I'm resigned now into believing that thing that "the older you get, the harder it is to lose." But I want you to know that when I left that doctor's office, I headed straight to the meat market and picked out the best looking rib eye steaks and had a feast that night. Baked potato, asparagus, cauliflour and steak! My reward for myself.

So now comes the next goal. I have to have another 3 month goal. I'm thinking that the next 30 pounds will be harder, holidays in the middle of it all, etc. But I'm still going to aim for 30.

As much as I have complained, kicked, and bucked the whole diet system, I must say, this has been very good for me. It has taken my mind off of the cancer, the thoughts of death and dying, how I might die, what if it comes back, and all that goes with the breast cancer thing. It was one thing to be "done" with treatments on April 15th.
And people do treat you like it's all "done." But I found the same thing happening to ME as with so many others. It's NEVER "done." It's always there. Everytime I look in the mirror, I see the disfigured, burn scarred, stitched scarred one-breasted chest. When I take a shower, I feel that numb, boney rib where a breast once was. When I try to shave under my arm, I can't feel anything as the nerves are all numb.
My hair is not the same, my face fell, my teeth rotted, my eyes got worse, etc., ---- all reminding me daily of the price of breast cancer. To say nothing of the pill. Every single day for the rest of my life I take the pill that causes the sweats. And these are the MEGA sized sweats!!!!!!! So no, it's never "all done."

But I say all that to say this, dieting has given me something else to think about besides cancer. Not sure that the exchange is the best, but at least it is a step up from death and dying of cancer!!!!!! Meal planning, calorie counting, counting my steps as I walk, walking through the grocery store like a hungry cougar telling myself I deserve ANYTHING, no matter what the price, if it fits into this diet plan. It's gotten to be like treasure hunt, believe me.

I keep visualizing the 31 pounds I've lost. That's 124 sticks of butter!!!!!! Yes, I still drool at the thought of a big, greasy, pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, but I've stopped roaring! Buster and I look forward to a few honey nut cheerios at night now . . . . . a looooooong way from the bowls of ice cream we used to have together . . . . . . .!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm an Addict!!!!

I guess a lot of you have wondered where in the world I've been during the past 5 weeks or so!!!! I think "stewing" would be the best word I can think of. Just stewing in my own pot of shame, guilt, anger, resentment, remorse, wishful thinking, bargaining, trade-off's, and whatever else goese with trying to "fix" myself up!

I had to face the truth: I am addicted to food. Not the usual addiction that people have to a chocolate bar, or some sweets now and then. This is a major, can't-live-with-out-it, I might just die, type of addiction. And let's face it ---- who in all of blogland wants to hear about the diet whinings of an old lady who, at 61 years old, STILL can't put down her fork, push away from the table and say, "That's enough, you fat slob!"

Most people diet quietly. After a month or so, you begin to notice something is different and you have to ASK them if they are dieting, and they quietly tell you, yes, and leave it at that. They are pleased you noticed but it is not the topic of their life. ME????? THE WHOLE WORLD knows I'm on a diet. I'm going down kicking and screaming. I'm NOT a happy camper. I think even the people in the grocery store know and dread my scowling face as I stomp through the store.

You can talk all about the health benefits, how much better I'll feel, how happy my heart will be with less weight, how my joints will feel better, my blood pressure will go down, how I'm a prime candidate for diabetes, etc., etc. You can tell me HOW to diet -- less carbs, vegetarian, low fat, low calories, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, MediFast, OptiFast, etc., etc. Been there, done them all, failed at everything. Let's face it -- I CRAVE pizza, bread, butter, red meat, tacos, noodles, and more bread! It's more than crave. I don't think there's a word for it --- except addiction. I think about it day and night. I WANT it all the time.

I've tried telling myself all these diet meals are great. Want to know the truth????? They stink! Downright terrible. Even Buster has given up sitting at the table with me. Pretty bad when HE would rather his Pedigree kibbles than my . . . . . slop!

But guess what????? This is the honest truth! I HAVE NOT CHEATED ONCE!!!!! I have stuck to this as if my life depended on it. I can't believe that an oncologist would have such power over me, that just saying, "Have you thought about a diet?" would throw my whole life into such an upheavel! I guess I knew I'd have to find a new doctor if I didn't do it.

My goal was to lose 35 pounds by October 9th! (My next dr. appointment). I've lost 24 so far. Don't think I'll make it. Please understand that this is just a "short therm goal" as I have about 135 pounds to go yet! But I needed a short term goal --- one with possible and probable success. After that????. . . .!!!!! This, by far, has been the hardest thing I've ever done. And the most miserable! If there were a chemo treatment that would make you lose weight, I'd go through all of that again twice over rather than this horror.

If ANY of you knew how badly I want a pizza right now. . . . . . .!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pluggin' Along!

It's been 10 days of cabbage soup. . . . and I've lost 10 pounds. Today, as I was cooking my THIRD huge kettle of soup, I wondered if I could eat it again and again. . . . and again. . . . and yet again!!!!!

But I must say, it hasn't been that bad, and I have NOT been hungry. I eat a bowl before my VERY light lunch and before my supper.

Some of you have thought that this was ALL I'm eating. NO WAY! I'm trying to eat a balanced diet but still stay at or under 800 calories a day. I don't exercise much. I'm totally out of shape since the cancer treatments. So I don't burn many calories in a day. I'm trying to walk a little each day so maybe I can build that up. But until then, I don't think I BURN many calories in a day!

I did one of those google searches for metabalic rate chart thingie, and I found one site with a calculator. You type in your age, weight, height, and how active you are, and it gives you an estimate of how many calories you burn in a day. Mine said 2400. So if I eat 800 calories in a day, that's a deficit of 1600 calories. It takes 3500 calories to make a pound. Doing the math, I should lose about 1 pound every 2 1/2 days. This is going to be slow going!!!!!

Don't you just HATE it when someone goes on a diet???? That's all they talk about. What they eat, what they don't eat, how hungry they are, how they feel, how their clothing fits, how everything they used to eat is now like a SIN, etc., etc. It just goes on and on and on. . . . . !!!!! As if we all didn't know. But here I am, doing it! It's all about FOOD!!!!!! And the SCALE!!!! It makes or breaks my whole day.
If only I could stay OFF THE SCALE! But it is what gives me the encouragement to stay ON the diet when it goes down!

Buster runs the yard a million times as I walk the sidewalk. He's slimming up really nice. I'm soooooo jealous!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cabbage Soup!


A lot of you have asked me for the recipe for the cabbage soup I mentioned in the last post, so I thought I would post it here. In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to this "diet" that features the cabbage soup. If you are interested, you can go here:

http://www.cabbage-soup-diet.com/index.php

You can click on the soup recipe there.

I think this recipe and diets revolving around it have been around for a million years. I can remember when a group of us decided we would all try it, and we all had cabbage soup coming out of our ears! It worked, but after a while, I never wanted to see another bowl of that stuff!!!My recipe has evolved over the years to suite my tastes and to satisfy my hunger. I will have a bowl of this for lunch, then another bowl before my VERY low cal supper. I don't do the rest of the diet as outlined on that site. I'm just eating VERY low cal right now. Gotta get it off FAST as the days are going by before that dreaded Dr. visit!

And I have an awful confession to make. I even have to lose MORE than he knows because I leaned on the desk when I was weighed, so it looked like I weighed less than I really did. So. . . . . that didn't help me out any. With the outcome of the dr. visit being what it was, I would have been better off making myself look like I weighed MORE rather than less. I'm not even down to what my chart says, no less lost anything! I'm paying for my sin!

So here goes:

1 large head of cabbage (remove outer, tough leaves) chopped
3 or 4 yellow onions, chopped
LOTS of celery, chopped fine
2 peppers, chopped (yellow, green or red,)
8 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 large cans of diced tomatoes with juice (seasoned ones work well)
1 large jar of V-8 juice
2 envelopes Liptons beefy onion soup
Seasonings: (it's up to you!)
Sometimes I do taco seasonings, sometimes italian, sometimes just garlic, salt and pepper.
Add enough water to make it SOUP and not STEW! you might need a beef boullian or two.

That is the BASIC thing that I do. But from there, it's all what I have available and the time of the year. I have used yellow summer squash, zucchinni, a few green beans, etc. Any of the low cal, low carb veggies. I had a bag of frozen italian veggies and a bag of stir fry veggies, and I threw those in.

Also, you can change the whole flavor by using chicken stock, or chicken boullian, or the Liptons chicken onion soup.

If I have no ideas for supper and don't feel like cooking, I'll throw a few of those little frozen meatballs and a little bit of cooked pasta or rice in the soup and just have that.

I'm not saying this is the best soup in the world, but it sure is filling and about as low in calories as a soup can get (outside of just plain broth!), and that's what I need to get me through the day.

I've lost 5 pounds since Friday!!!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seems Like Forever!!!!

I have been so frustrated with Blogger the past few weeks. Am I the only one with problems???? I keep getting error messages with a diagnostic thingy to go through. Then, when I do that, it repeats again. Then, finally, I might see my own blog. Worse yet, when I go to all of YOUR blogs, I can't seem to see the posts most of the time. I get the title bar with your blog header, I get your "down the side" stuff with the links and pictures, but NO POSTS. Just blank pages. Then, miracles of miracles, one time out of a million, I get to read a blog, try to comment, and poof ---- it's gone!

Believe me, I have not been ignoring anyone. Just can't get to you! Have patience, as I'm working on it. Anyone else out there with this going on????? Seems to have started when Internet Explorer downloaded an update or something. Everything went haywire on my computer!

Since my last post, I've been doing fine here. HOT, but fine! Had a birthday last week, celebrated with a big, juicy steak, but decided to leave off the cake. I wanted to buy myself one of those sheet cakes and have them cover it completely with those icing roses. No writing, no blank spots ---- just LOTS of roses!!!! But when I came back to reality, I decided it wouldn't be worth the months it would take to get those roses off my hips again. And believe me, those hips don't need reenforcements at this time!

Now that I've brought up that subjebt of HIPS. . . .!!!!! I went to my oncologist this past Monday and it was NOT a happy visit! He was super nice ---- nicer than he usually is with his blunt, to the point, comments. This time, he was smiley, complimented me on how great I looked, etc. You have to know that up until this point, he has never mentioned my weight or chided me to lose, etc. But today, he leaned back in his chair, and asked THE question. . . . . "Have you ever considered surgery and the lap band procedure to help you lose the weight? I've heard great things and fantastic reports are coming in about the results with this!" I felt the big "L" being branded on my forehead (L stands for LOSER, if you didn't know!)

I didn't say much, but he then went on to tell me all the stuff I already knew . . . would help with the blood pressure, I'd feel so much better, I wouldn't have all the aches and pains in the joints, etc., etc. I've been down this road. Lost it all years ago. After gaining it all back, I just haven't had the energy, the will power, or that "I can do it" victorious feeling it takes to even start!!!!!

So. . . . he gets off that terrible subject, gets me on the exam table and starts poking and squishing. Then. . . . I made the mistake of asking the wrong question. I asked if I could get the port out any time soon. You know, that horrible thing they use to pump the chemo into you. I have to have it "flushed out" every 6 weeks so that blood clots don't form in it. That means a huge needle getting whacked into my chest, heperin pumped in there, then flushed out, etc., etc., every six weeks. I thought it was a legitimate question being that I'm done with chemo, wouldn't you think?

He sighs a big sigh, rubs his bald head, and says, "LOOK!!!" (I know that's trouble!)
"Let's face reality here. Given the severity and spread of your cancer, the long wait before you got treatment, we have to face the fact that it IS going to come back. Not IF, mind you! I don't know when, but it will come back. So you will need that port in there!"

What a reality check that was. All this time, I go to sleep with all the "what if's" going through my head. Now, it's no long what if, but rather WHEN!!!!! Doesn't help with the "Getting on with your life" idea that I'm supposed to be doing.

And it certainly doesn't help with the idea of a diet. Mind you, I'm the type of person that, if you say I can't do something, I'll die in the process of trying to prove you wrong! So. . . . now that this dr. thinks I can't do it on my own, I seem to have this "do or die" thing going on. It took a few days for me to work it up, but I'm now really into it. I went out and bought my trusty heads of cabbage for my No Fail cabbage diet soup and will eat that for three months, even if it kills me! It will be three months before I see this dr. again, and so help me. . . . .!!!!!!

So . . . . no cake, no steak, no homemade bread, no butter, no nothing!!!!!!

UPDATE FROM BUSTER: WHERE'S THE BEEF??????


You have to understand that Buster has ALWAYS sat at the table like this, ever since I got him at 7 weeks old! He doesn't drool, doesn't beg, doesn't whine. . . . doesn't even MOVE!!! But always waits patiently to see if there is ANYTHING left for him. No beef tonight, buddy! Cabbage soup did NOT interest him at all!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PET Scan results



Last Thursday, I finally went for my PET scan. It's always a nerve-wracking thing to do, believe me. Not because it's scarey or hurts, etc., ---- it's just that you dread hearing the results. And even that is strange, because you want the results immediately, if not sooner, but there is still that dread that you might hear the worst of the worst. But they won't tell you a thing!!! Not even a hint! Just lovely, smiling faces tht tell you, "Your doctor will call you if he needs to talk with you about your scan. Have a nice day!" And so you go home, wondering, praying for the best, dreading the worst, and again wondering where all that faith is. . . .!!!!

I've come to the place where I call breast cancer the "What If" disease! There are just way too many gray areas. Too many things left unanswered. Too many "wait and see" issues. Too many statistics. Every headache, pain, cramp, lump, bump, etc., becomes a "What if" and you feel more paranoid than you ever thought possible. Add to that, waiting for the test results to a PET scan is pure torture! It just shouldn't be! Supposedly, if they don't call, everything is OK and there's nothing to worry about. But then, the "What if's" start in: What if the Dr. didn't see that piece of paper and it's buried on his desk? What if someone forgot to call me? What if he's on vacation? And so, we're back to the "What if" game???? It got so bad that I actually thought that maybe he just isn't calling because I'll see him on the 20th anyways and then he'll give me the bad news that it's hopeless and there's nothing he can do for me! Now THAT is what I call stretching the imaginary scenerios to the limit, don't you think??????

So. . . Here it is Wednesday. I've been waiting since Thursday. Can I breathe yet?
I couldn't stand it this morning. I called the cancer center and asked. I just know that some gal answering the phone is going to get that huge rubber stamp out of her desk drawer today and the bright red ink pad and stamp on the cover of my chart, "HIGH MAINTENANCE PATIENT!!!!" You know, those patients that call constantly about everything from a runny nose to a stubbed toe! But I didn't care today. I just think the "No call if everything is ok" policy stinks!

So the gal on the other end of the phone says, "I'll pull your chart and have a nurse call you back with the results." It's been an hour. . . .. no call back yet!

Have you ever had a PET scan? I've often wondered how they come up with these things. The night before and the day of the scan, you can't eat or drink any carbs or suger, etc. 6 hours before the scan, nothing. Then, when you get there, they give you a shot of radioactive glucose. You wait for about 40 minutes to an hour for this to go through your system. Next, you lay on a plank, knees bent, arms over your head, and you go through an arch. I thought it was a tunnel at first, but it is open at each end and short enough that my head and/or feet were hanging out each end. Not as clostrophobic as you might think. The first pass through the "arch" is a CT scan that shows the skeletal system. This is fast. The second pass takes about 20 - 30 minutes. This one shows the rest of everything that's inside of you. The radioactive glucose has now circulated throughout your body, and cancer cells are grabbing onto the glucose because they are VERY hungry by now. So. . . if there is anything cancerious in your body, it will light up like a Christmas tree on the scan results.

I had my first PET scan back in February and nothing showed up then. I'm still sitting here wondering about this one. . . . ??????!!!!!!!

UPDATE!!! The Cancer Center just called to let me know that NOTHING showed up on the PET Scan! THANK YOU, LORD!!!! I wonder if I added up all the time I spent worrying about this in the past two weeks or so, how much time I actually wasted?????? To say NOTHING of how much I heaped on others with all my whining and worrying about all the "what if's!" Next time I start with all this and whine to ya'll, just tell me to stuff a sock in it, won't you????? Seriously, though, I do appreciate all your prayers for me. Thank you from the cockles of my heart!!!!! (When I was a kid, my pastor referred to "the cockles of his heart" and I always wondered what "cockles" were! Does anyone know????) I just Googled it, and if you really have to know, click here:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-coc2.htm

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Old Farmer's Advice!


An Old Farmer's Advice:


* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. *

*Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.*

*Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.*

* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.*

* Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.*

* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.*

* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.*

* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.*

* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.*

* You cannot unsay a cruel word.*

* Every path has a few puddles.*

* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.*

* The best sermons are lived, not preached.

* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.*

* Don't judge folks by their relatives.*

* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.*

* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.*

* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.*

* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.*

* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.*

* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.*

* The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.*

* Always drink upstream from the herd.*

* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.*

* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.*

* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.*

* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.*

*Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.*
--

Don't pick a fight with an old man.. If he is too old to fight,

he'll just kill you.




Some days all you can do is smile and wait for some kind soul to come and pull you out of the bind you've gotten yourself into!!!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just to Let you Know!

So many of you have been asking me how I'm doing, and I so much appreciate all your concern and prayers. One of the greatest benefits about blogging that I never knew was there before is how many great friends I've made and how many have committed themselves to praying for me. I can't begin to tell you all how thankful I am for that and how encouraging it is to get your notes, etc. THANK YOU and big hugs to all of you!!!!!

I have been feeling really good the past few weeks. It is a strange thing -- after going through chemo, then surgery, then radiation, you forget what "good" really is. I thought I was feeling "good" after I got through chemo and that was done. Little did I know that "good" could be so much better!!!!

I just wish my hair would grow faster. I still look like a marine! And I'm so disappointed that it did not come back in curly. It is sooooooo straight. Poker straight!!!! My sister asked me what color it is. I was hoping for blond like I was when I was a kid, or at least a nice "old lady white" or all gray. Instead, I look like a squirrel. You know, that grayish, whitish, brownish thing with a few black hairs here and there, etc. It will need a lot of work, believe me, when it's long enough.

My only problem right now is a lump I found at the mastectomy site, just a little above the stitch line. It's about the size of a cherry. At first, I wondered if it was a rib, since it has only been recently that I could actually feel anything there. Before this, it was either swollen from the surgery, or so burned that I couldn't touch it. It's taken a while for all the swelling to go down, and now that it has, I found this crazy little cherry sized lump. I asked my Primary care Dr. about it, and she sent me for a chest x-ray. That report went to my oncologist, and I went in to see him yesterday. He's also puzzled by it and doesn't know what it is. So I'm lined up for a PET scan on July 2nd.

So once again, all those thoughts flood through my mind. All the "what if"s", the "I can't go through this again," the "what if it has spread," and all the rest just keep sneaking into my thoughts. I know you will all tell me not to think about it, but . . . . . you just can't help it. I've come to call cancer the "What If Disease." It seems to be the major thought process of anyone I know who has gone or is going through this. The trouble is, there is no answer to all those "what if's". I'm the first to tell other people not to worry, that most of it all doesn't happen anyways, etc., etc. But when it's ME, then it's a different story. I seem to allow myself all the "what if's!"

Today, the area is a little sore. That oncologist of mine is not a gentle soul! He goes at you like you are a two pound ball of bread dough and starts kneading, pushing, prodding, poking, squishing, squeezing, etc., until you feel your ribs are going to break. And when he starts under your armpits, or does a breast exam, you wonder if you will even have a breast left when he is through. Believe me, if that's how we are supposed to do a self-breast exam, NONE of us do it right! I'm sure that's why it's sore today. Every time he does this, I lay there on that exam table with my fist clenched, ready to sock him one. I haven't yet, but there may come a day when you will hear on the news about the first case in Florida where a doctor sues a patient for socking him in the face!!!!!

So. . . .don't know when the report will be back from the Pet scan. Usually it takes a few days. And since they don't call you if the scan is clear, you just wait and worry an appropriate amount of time and then figure everything is OK! I'll give it until the 9th of July, and then let my breath out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Angel in my Life!



A few weeks ago, I posted about Teresa and the impact she has had on my life and the lives of other cancer patients at the Cancer Center.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to another "angel" I met some time ago -- Mary!

Mary is the owner of Stillwater Dog Training, more readily known in my house as "Bad Boy School." Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning know all about this place, about Buster, my chocolate lab, and all the trials and tribulations he has put me through. I signed up for dog training classes with Mary, and let me tell you, I have never forgotten her.

First of all, she was just the nicest person you would ever want to meet. She put the class at ease, as we all felt we had the worst possible dog in the world and would definitely flunk out (I ended up winning that award!) It didn't surprise me at all when she closed that part of the class with prayer, and I knew she was someone who knew the Lord personally and really cared about us all. She took her job so seriously and wanted us all to succeed and make it through the trouble spots we had with our dogs.

I always felt at ease with Mary. She would always take time to answer my questions as I related my problems about Buster with her. It was such a dark time for me, as I was really thinking I would have to get rid of him if things didn't change. She encouraged me every single week, and I would go home and try again and put him through all the exercises and commands.

It didn't end well, as Buster became more stubborn, self-willed and defiant, and you will remember that I didn't go back for that last class. I felt like such a failure and wondered over the next few months if Buster and I would really make it.

I contacted Mary a few times after that, and she has always been helpful, encouraging, and just. . . . . so nice! And when I found out about my cancer and all the treatments coming my way, I had questions and doubts about Buster. She promised to pray for me and Buster and somehow, I knew she would!

Buster has come a long way. Maybe someone who didn't know him a year ago would raise an eyebrow and call him a wild maniac of a dog. But to me, he's an angel compared to what he was. And I owe it all to Mary, the techniques she taught me, and her prayers!

I remember those first few classes. . . . I had delusions of grandeur, thinking that I would love to be a dog trainer like Mary. She just loved her work, loved her dogs, gave so much to the community with Ruger, her work dog. You can read about her and Ruger

HERE!
.

But I soon found out that dog training is definitely a gift from God! And I don't have it! Mary has chosen to share that gift with others by teaching us how to handle our dogs properly! But even further than that, she has trained her own dog to be a "sniffer", to work with police and law enforcement, and to be a rescue dog. She has given so much of herself! I know how much it has meant to ME during this past year to have Buster's slobbery kisses and his happy face around me ---- something I would NOT have had, believe me, if Mary had not helped me with all the behavioral issues!

Thank you, Mary, for all you do for so many people! I know I'm not the only one who has been impacted by your life and your talents!

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. . . Others come and stay awhile, encourage us, show us a way we never saw before, and somehow, we are never the same again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays

No, they don't get me down --- in fact, I LOVE rainy days, and today is one of those. After such a long season of drought here in Florida, we are finally seeing a return to those daily showers, and sometimes --- just long, rainy days! Like today!

The day started out sunny, but it gradually got darker and darker as the gray clouds moved overhead. Then, I heard the drops hitting the exhaust fan thingy on the roof. And Buster and I headed for the back porch. He's not much for playing in the rain, but does love it when I go out and sit in the rocking chair, so he was all gung-ho!

It was one of those steady, hard rains, no wind, no thunder and lightening -- just rain coming straight down. I noticed all the leaves on the trees dancing as they got showered and washed. Puddles were forming fast, and the birdbath soon overflowed. A very large toad, afraid of rising flood waters, hopped across the lawn, through the fence and off to safer, higher ground.

And then it happened. . .

Buster was bored with it all, but for my sake, laid down on the porch and tried to act like he was enjoying the whole thing. All of a sudden, he was up like a shot ---- a squirrel was sitting on the sidewalk, wondering where to go to keep dry. I don't think he had a chance to decide as Buster was fast on his tail, telling him where to go. Up that tree he went, but I noticed he was smart enough to hang on the underside of a big limb which served as an umbrella. He was a little smarter than Buster who stood there in the pouring rain looking up the tree! Poor Buster! He just can't seem to catch one.



I'm always amazed at the birds during a storm. The whole time it was raining, I never saw or heard one bird. But it seems they just know when it's about over and begin to sing. There is nothing more beautiful than the choir of birds singing at the end of storm. Today, it was the wren who started off with the solo part. Then the woodpecker made it a duet. Wasn't long before the bluejay added a perky little tune, and then the flycatcher. Soon, the titmice, cardinals and others joined in. I always wonder how they seem to know when the end of the storm is near????

And you talk about making the best of a bad situation!!!! A pair of cardinals came out and perched in the cherry tree, then began rubbing up against the wet leaves. Definitely a very unique way to take a shower!



I always loved the song playing --- Rainy Days and Mondays. But they don't get me down. Today, it cheered me up! I came back inside, enjoyed a bowl of hot, homemade hamburger and veggie soup, and thanked the Lord for all His goodness towards me! Buster is laying next to me, soaking wet but dreaming of squirrels, and we are both waiting for the next rainy day to come our way!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Angels --- From a Child's Perspective

A friend sent me this in an email, and I thought it was just too precious!!!!!


Angels Explained By Children

I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold.

-Gregory, 5

Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it

-Olive, 9

It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven, and then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes.

-Matthew, 9

Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else.

-Mitchell, 7

My guardian angel helps me with math, but he's not much good for science.

-Henry, 8

Angels don't eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows!!!

-Jack, 6

Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead.

-Daniel, 9


When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath, somewhere there's a tornado.

-Reagan, 10

Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter.

-Sara, 6

Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who's a very good carpenter.

-Jared, 8

All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn't go for it.

-Antonio, 9

My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth.

- , 9

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don't make the animals get better, they help the child get over it.

-Vicki, 8

What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them.

-Sarah, 7

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mourning the Loss of a Great Friend!

It's just terrible!!!!! Totally unexpected and heart-breaking! I just sank into my chair and said, "NO!!!!! This just can't be happening to me!!!!"

You see, we had really just gotten to know each other. Up until a few months ago, we would see each other only once in a while, and I must confess, it was for selfish reasons only. It's only been recently that I realized how much this friend had to give and before this, was left out in the cold!

It's my bread machine!!!!! It died today. Very suddenly. And in the line of duty, of all things!!!!

I wanted pizza dough. I got out my recipe, dumped the junk in there, plopped the pan in the machine and set it on dough setting, and away it went. I've gotten to just love the sound as it starts up slowly --- mixing all the lovely junk in there -- and then revving up and slapping that dough around, making that beloved ball of dough.

But today. . . . in the middle of it all, it died. Just up and quit!

What in the world am I going to do????? I had just gotten to the point where I found out all this wonderful machine could do. I've made the best breads, learned about the dough only cycle, etc., etc. I know, I know!!!! I don't NEED bread. In fact, I don't need ANY bread, or pizza dough, or rolls, or butter, or jelly, or cream cheese, or anything else that goes with the word bread. But it's my all time favorite thing. . . . .!!!!!!!

Please just let me mourn the death of my friend. It's still sitting on my counter. I can't even move it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Salmon Cakes!



I know!!!!! You are already thinking about that stuff that comes in the can where you have to pick out the bones and skin, etc. NO!!!! This is made with fresh salmon and much easier and better tasting!!!!! NO CANS!!!!!

I was being lazy one day last week, and I watched the Food Network channel. Ina Garten was cooking these salmon cakes and they just looked sooooooo delicious, so I copied down the recipe. She said this would also be good with crab or lobster. Yummmmm!!!!!!

I know the list of ingredients looks like "work", but I had most of the stuff already. I never cooked with capers before, so I bought some of those. Salmon was $6.99 a pound. Most of the other stuff was on my grocery list anyway, or I had on hand.

I must say, this rated a 10 in my book. My salmon weighed in at more than a 1/2 pound, so added a little more of the other stuff to compensate. I ended up with 12 good sized salmon cakes, and it was just the best thing I've made in ages!!!!! In fact, the next day, I heated one up in the microwave, toasted an English muffin, used mayo and tomato, and it made the best ever sandwich!!!!

Please note: This may seem wet and loose when you make the patties. Mine was. But I gingerly put them into the frying pan, wondering if they would stay together. They did!!!! Just don't fuss with them!


Ingredients
1/2 pound fresh salmon
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
3 slices stale bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3-ounce) cakes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Farrah's Story

At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to watch this documentary on Farrah's journey with cancer. So many times, the life of the rich and famous stars are sensationalized and reality is hidden, and I didn't want just another tear-jerking movie about cancer! But I watched it anyways, and I'm so glad I did. This was definitely "reality TV" in the raw!

My reactions were so mixed with some of my reactions even surprising myself. I felt so sorry for Farrah right from the beginning, and her reactions to having cancer were so typical --- surprise, fear of the future, will try anything, must be positive, etc., etc. It was all there. Only those of us who have been through the horrors of chemo could relate to what she went through. I must be honest here, though, and say truthfully that I never had the terrible nausea that she had with hers. I only had that the day after my surgery!

I must say, Farrah was much more brave than I could have ever been. There is no way I could have had those procedures done on my liver and be wide awake and in that much pain! And to think she went back for that several times over. She definitely gets ALL my respect for going through that, believe me!

I came away from this program feeling somewhat sad -- almost depressed! With all the research, and all the money that has gone into cancer just in my lifetime, it seems that not much has changed. Yes, we have better means of detection, giving patients an earlier start on treatment. And yes, we have different chemos, better and more accurate radiation treatments, and maybe surgeons are more skilled, etc. But it still boils down to cutting it out, burning it out, and/or poisoning it with chemicals! And even with all you go through, there are no promises that it's gone. It only takes ONE little cell. . . .!!!!!

Another thing that came to the surface for me was the choices we have to make as cancer patients. Farrah's choice was to seek alternative treatment in Germany. You may correct me on this if I came away with the wrong impression ---- but I gathered from what was said throughout the documentary that Farrah chose treatment in Germany because she did not want a colostomy and live with a colostomy bag, and she did not want to lose her hair as that was what made her famous. Based on those two things, she passed up tried and true treatment here in the states, did not have the standard surgery and the standard chemo for her type of cancer. These are horrible things to have to live with -- wondering if you've made the right choices, should you change doctors, should you enter trials where new and promising drugs are being tested, etc., etc. All the "what if's" are always going through your head as you fight for your life.

And I felt her pain as she waited for test results to come back. Only cancer patients seem to understand that dreaded, nagging thought that is always in the back of your mind -- "I wonder if they got it all or if it will come back?" You become paranoid with every little ache, pain, headache, cough, and so on!

I came away from Farrah's Story with a big sigh. She fought so hard! I'm not sure I would go as far as she did, but that can change at any moment when it becomes MY fight for life. It is so hard to stand on the sidelines and watch someone else fight such an enormous battle like this. In the end of it all, there's not much anyone can do to help you except to cheer you on. . . . and PRAY!

I went to bed last night and whispered a prayer of thanks to the Lord for His presence in my life and for giving me the knowledge that He walks with me through anything that comes into my life. Sometimes we do not know the purpose of these diseases and we question God's love and care with that age old question, "WHY ME???"
I'll be honest, I've asked it!!! But somewhere deep in my soul comes back the question, "Why not you?" Am I better than anyone else who has been through cancer?
Is cancer a punishment? A strike against an innocent human being from a sadistic God?
Of course not! From the moment I was born, I was destined to die. . . from something.
I did not come with a guarantee that I would be free from disease, sadness, hurts, and pains. But I did come with a gift waiting for me . . . a gift I only had to accept by faith . . . that not only would eternal life would be mine one day, but His presence would go with me through whatever life was mine here on earth!

Those of you who have accepted that gift know the peace it brings you. If you do NOT know that peace, and you do NOT know where you would spend eternity if you were to die today, let me know and I would be honored to tell you all about it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Angels or Friends?

During the past few weeks, I've thought a lot about the people who have come into my life during this cancer journey. Some of them I have gotten to know through blogging, some through other cancer patients, and some I met at the Cancer Center. Each one has made a difference in my life in some way, whether it be through an encouraging card, a hug, a note, a gift, or by just being there. Last night, I thought about one person in particular --- her name is Teresa!

If you were a patient at this particular cancer center, you would have met Teresa on your very first visit. I remember that day so vividly, as it was NOT the happiest day of my life, believe me! I walked in the big, double glass doors, and went to the counter where the sign-in clip board was waiting for me. I signed my name, and put the pen down, and went to find a seat in the big waiting room. I noticed a blond gal open the glass window and reach for that sheet and cross my name off with a yellow marking pen. I later found out that her name was Teresa.

If you have been to one of these waiting rooms, you will know that these are not pleasant places. In fact, I was very much aware of the fact that no one made eye contact, no one talked with each other, and most looked very sick and miserable and in their own little world. And this with much reason to be this way. After all, they were all fighting for their lives, and I'm sure some were losing the battle. So. . . you would sit there and stare at your shoes until the big, heavy door opened and some cheerful, bright-eyed nurse called your name and you disappeared into the treatment part of the building.

I never had any other contact with Teresa during those first visits. I just knew she was there. . . until . . .

About half way through my treatment, I walked in for an appointment and there was a big desk in the waiting room. This was going to be Teresa's new place to work. After that day, she was always there at this desk, had her computer set up there, and was always busy doing something --- sorting mail, answering questions, checking on people's appointments, etc. At first, she seemed quiet, but pleasant. But I noticed as I came back time after time that things were changing in the waiting room. Teresa was beginning to know everyone by their first names and greeted each of us as we came in the door. She always asked how we were doing, remember something about us and engaged us in conversation. I know I immediately felt at ease with her, and soon was laughing and sharing stories about our growing up, etc. The whole atmosphere in the waiting room changed, and I noticed others more talkative and alive. It was no longer the waiting room for Heaven!

When I started radiation and had to go every single day, I actually looked forward to seeing Teresa. One day, I mentioned that I was soooooo very tired of wearing the "chemo hats" to cover my head. She asked if my hair was growing and I said yes, and whipped off my hat at that moment to show her. Her reaction was just so nice and encouraging that I never put it on again. I went home, dug out my make up, and decided I was going to be a woman again from that day on! Thank you, Teresa!!!

You know, I wonder if people really realize what an impact they make on a person's life! You don't have to be a doctor, or a chemo nurse to change someone's day! In fact, I probably had more contact with this one gal than I did with anyone else at the cancer center, and I always went away feeling a little more light hearted and encouraged because of her. I would have to say that someone saw something in her and knew that the best use of her talents would be right there in the waiting room where she could interact with patients when they first came in. Smart move!

I don't know what others saw when they looked at her --- just another employee? a receptionist? someone to answer questions? someone to open the mail? Somehow I remember looking at her closely one day ------ and I'm sure I saw wings!!!

Angel or Friend?
Someday I'll Know!

They come and go, more quickly than
I'd really like, you know.
Sometimes I know their names,
But mostly, when I'd least expect,
they go.
Sometimes they hug me tight,
Silent, but so loving as I cry.
And I go on again,
Strengthened when I thought
I'd only die.
Sometimes they rush into my life,
Bumping me, pushing,
And I see another way.
It's only when they're gone,
And the light from their fair lantern
lingers on,
I wonder, where I would have been
this day?
Are these chance meetings - fate -
or can it be
These are the angels God has promised me?
Are these friends - or angels - is it so?
Maybe not today,
Someday, I'll know!

--Cora Eelman

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey


Ever since I started participating in Thankful Thursdays, I've become much more aware of things during my days that are real blessings ---- things I probably would NOT have noticed or remembered before. Nothing chases away the blues better than a thankful heart, believe me!

If you'd like to participate, write down five things you are thankful for this week.
You can find the code by clicking on the little picture above, and also read what others are thankful for this week!

Here's my list:

1. My radiation burns are almost all healed up now. Just a small spot left, and that is getting better each day. I've got to tell you, this was harder than any part of the cancer treatments so far. Maybe because it was the end and I'm tired of it all, or maybe because it was so daily! Going every single day for 6 weeks for this got really old really fast. And for some reason, it played with my emotions. It could have been the aloneness of lying on that table half naked in a dark room, or it could have been the side effects of radiation. I don't know. But I am so thankful now that it is over and behind me!

2. Help and support along the way. Nothing better than people who come along side and encourage you through all of this. Some of these "angels unaware" don't even realize how they have changed a day for someone. My primary care physician's office is like that. What a bunch of cheerful, happy, caring people in that place!!!! I went there Monday for a followup visit. The nurse practioner is nicer than any Dr. I've ever had and is always so willing to take all the time in the world with me. She also told me that I should have called her about the burns -- that SHE would have taken care of it for me. I'll know next time! But I left there feeling a bit lighter and that I had left some burdens at their doorstep. And just think --- they probably didn't even realize that they made my day!

3. Flowers! I'm not one for manicured gardens. Mind you, I love seeing these, but I don't have a green thumb and I really can't do all the work anymore to maintain it. But right now, my jasmine and my honeysuckle are in full bloom and I just love it. The honeysuckle has taken over my fence, but hey! The butterflies and the birds seem to love it, so it stays!!!!





4. Beans! Have you ever made THE most best pot of beans ever????? Maybe I haven't had beans in a while, or these were just the best --- I don't know. I used the baby limas, LOTS of carrots, onions, some seasonings, and one of those kielbasi things. Also had cornbread with it. Just toooo good! Thank you, Lord, for BEANS!

5. Birds!!!!! We seem to have an unusual amount of activity this year. And it's been so great to watch a pair of pileated woodpeckers carving out their home in a huge, old, dead pine tree. It was sad to see the pine tree go, but it didn't go to waste, believe me. My sister and I walked out to see the hole they were digging into this dead trunk that was left, and I wished I could just shimmy up there and look into that new home!!!! Here's a look at these two:




And here's their new front door:


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey


Whenever I go to someone's blog who is participating in "Thankful Thursdays," I feel a little guilty! There is not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for something that I would like to shout from the rooftops; yet, here I sit with my mouth (or blog!) shut and share with no one! Shame on me!

Here is my list of things I'm thankful for:

l. The radiation burns on my chest are showing signs of healing -- the area gets smaller each day. It's been 8 days since the last treatment, so I'm looking forward to this being over and done with. I've been pretty good through this whole journey, but I have to say this about radiation --- if I knew before hand, I probably would NOT have done this. I was NOT a happy camper. But it is still on my "thank you list" as part of the cure, that I was able to take it and go through to the end, and that all of my bloggy friends were praying for me all this time!

2. For Spring! There is nothing better than Spring!!!! New beginnings, new life, new everything! The birds are singing like never before, and I had the privilege of seeing 3 tiny, little wren's eggs in the next on my porch!!! I really thought she had abandoned that nest after I discovered her "renovations," but she snuck in there and laid her eggs. Can't wait to follow the hatching and growth of the little ones.

3. For my Sister! If you have followed my blog throughout this cancer journey, you will have noticed that my sister has faithfully gone with me to all my appointments, treatments, tests, scans, etc., no matter when or where they were, or how long they took! It was sort of a celebration to see her take off the bracelet she has worn ever since the day I was diagnosed until the last day of radiation. Thank you, Lord, for such a faithful friend who has listened to all my fears, whinings, aches and pains and understood it all and knew just what to say and NOT to say!

4. For how the Lord has supplied all of my needs. I often laid awake at night, wondering how in the world I was going to pay for this or that, what would happen if. . . ., etc. Little did I know, but God had things already worked out for me. I did not realize that my diagnosis automatically qualified me for disability and as soon as I filed the paper work, the checks started coming!!!! Now how is THAT for an answered prayer??? Wish I had filed months ago!

5. For Buster! Oh my! You know, we all need a thorn in our sides to remind us of our sinful nature and what needs to be worked on. And for me, Buster brought every bad thing up to the surface, believe me. I found out that my mouth can sometime yell things that I thought I'd never say. I found out I'm not as patient as I thought I was. I found out that my anger level can be pretty low. But he is the most forgiving dog in the world and loves me anyways! Buster has seen me at my worst, but faithfully has walked with me through this whole cancer journey, patiently waiting for me to go outside with him. He has adjusted to what hurts on me, knows when I don't feel well, and is the best sleeping companion anyone can ever ask for on a sleepless night! Thank you, Lord, for Buster!

If you'd like to participate, write down five things you are thankful for this week.
You can find the code by clicking on the little picture above, and also read what others are thankful for this week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Loser!!!!!

I think I am going on Ebay to buy this book!



Back in the 60's, I belonged to a book club and a different cookbook was sent to me every month. This was one of them. I haven't seen it in years, so I guess I don't have it anymore. But I sure wish I did!

You see, I decided tonight that I can't cook. I can do bacon and eggs, make a sandwich, make pretty good spagetti sauce, corn chowder, and a few other things. But when it comes to meat, I'm a LOSER! Twice this week my meat was NOT edible. I did a little pork loin roast the other day. You know, one of those 1 pounders that comes already seasoned, etc. Supposedly, you can't go wrong. But this was just horrible. I know I was in trouble when I opened the package as I did NOT like the smell. But I followed the directions to a tee. HORRIBLE!!!!! Ended up just eating veggies that night.

Then, today I decided to make a potroast. How can you ruin a pot roast???? I did my trusty old recipe with the cream of mushroom soup, an envelope of the onion soup, and some cut up onions. I braised the roast first, threw it in the crock pot. . . . and a couple of hours later. . . . . tough as workboots!!!!! I needed a power saw to cut it. So. . . . thought it wasn't done, and let it go for another hour. Still tough as shoe leather. I gave up. Another veggie meal.

I'm to the point where I think my safest route to go is just hamburger if I want any meat in my diet.

Do you think there are REALLY 365 ways to cook hamburger???????

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two More to Go!

I spent the weekend with as much of my chest exposed as I could! Not a pleasant sight, believe me, but ANYTHING to make this just a little more comfortable. All I could think of were those days as a teenager when it was "in" to burn to a crisp, peel, and compare with friends whose was the worst burn. I can remember mixing iodine in my baby oil and smearing that stuff all over me just so I'd burn more than the next gal. Talk about a turkey basting!


My chest is dark purple, crusty, spots have peeled and are weeping, and I'm feeling sorry for myself. Being tired, grumpy, not hungry seems to be the normal course of things, and no one seems to give much concern at the Cancer Center except an occasional, "Oh honey, it will all be over in a little while and you're doing just fine!" If this is "just fine," I would hate to be the one who WASN'T doing fine! My oncologist was right -- he told me he didn't want to see me until it was all over because he didn't want to hear me whining, moaning, and crabbing about the burns (as he had a wicked smile on his face!)

To make matters worse, the cream is also a pain! It is Silver Sulphadiazine or something like that. It is thick and white, and I feel like I'm smearing spackle or joint compound on my chest. Not an easy task when the skin is loose and tender. Why couldn't they come up with a spray or something????? I'm sure the people who formulate this stuff have never been through the process of using it. (Oh, don't I sound like the crabby one here!!!!!)

Actually, though, I'm NOT crabby. I have my moments, but basically, I have a happy heart. I'm so glad this is almost over, that I've made it through all this without any bad reactions or terrors. I've gotten to know an 84 year old lady who gets her radiation the same time as I do, and she has been through so much. Her husband had his leg amputated a few weeks ago, and died this past Friday. She faithfully came for her treatments each day, though, and we would talk, sometimes laugh, sometimes cry, but always seeming to understand what we were both going through. I can't imagine being that old, trying to drive myself for treatments, seeing my husband dying at the same time, and then facing the rest of my life alone like that. Please pray that I will have the right words to say to her. I'm just so thankful I've done so well through all this.

Somewhere, I was reading about someone who was asked the question, "What have you learned through this cancer journey?" I can't even remember what she said, but I've been asking myself that question ever since. My list will be quite long, I'm sure. Perhaps in another post I will begin my "lessons learned."

So. . . . two more treatments to go. It will all be over after Wednesday. I don't see my oncologist until the first week in May, so it will be nice to have a break from that place. By that time, the burns will be all healed up, and he won't have to listen to me whine! He had it all figured out as to when to see me again!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Almost Done!!!!

Five more trips to the Cancer Center and I'll be done with all of this. I can hardly believe it! These last 5 radiation treatments are called "boosters" and will be aimed at the scar line only. Not sure if that is a good thing, as the scar line is totally shot now, with the skin deteriorating, open, weeping, and terribly sore. The whole area is dark purple with large blisters, and I must say, this is about the most misterable and worst pain I've had through this whole cancer journey. I feel like I have hot knives in my chest constantly.

I saw the radiologist yesterday and begged for something better than the creams I've been using. He gave me a prescription for something, and I couldn't wait to get out of there to run and pick it up. He did say, though, that he was sorry, but my chest looked just like it is supposed to at this point and it would be getting better soon.
That wasn't very comforting, especially knowing that the effects of these radiation treatments are delayed by 3 or 4 days. In other words, the treatment I got yesterday won't show up until Saturday or Sunday.

The cream did seem to help some as I did get some sleep last night. Either that, or I was just so tired from so many sleepless nights. My primary care physician had given me a prescrption for zanax to help me sleep. She said it would stop the "racing thoughts", enabling me to get to sleep faster. Well, I tried one, and all I did was lay there thinking about racing thoughts and when in the world they would stop and I would fall asleep. I stared at the wall, looking at the shadows of Buster's four legs straight up in the air, as he was fast asleep, snoring away as he laid on his back. That was VERY irritating, to say the least. What a dog! Not a worry in the world! You would think BUSTER took the pill!

Otherwise, not much going on in my world right now. The weather is just beautiful, the trees are all full of leaves, flowers are blooming, birds are singing and building their nests. This flycatcher is checking out my sister's birdhouses these days and is so much fun to watch!

It's my favorite time of the year and I'm savoring every moment of it! Thank you, Lord, for Spring!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Against the Law to Plant your Garden????



I don't know much about politics. I try my best to listen, but often find my blood boiling when I do. But this just went over the edge for me. I just can't believe that ANYONE would vote in favor of this ----- telling me that I can no longer plant a tomato plant in a pot on my 5 acres of land! I feel like all my rights are being taken away from me one by one. Please read this, check it out, and make your voice heard . . . somewhere!

Here is the full text version of the bill. You may have to copy the link and paste it:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h875ih.txt.pdf


HR 875: SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009"

Full text version pdf of HR 875: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h875ih.txt.pdf

http://www.agreenerindiana.com/forum/topics/bill-to-ban-organic-farming

Pay special attention to

* Section 3 which is the definitions portion of the bill-read in it’s entirety.
* section 103, 206 and 207- read in its entirety.


What it Does:

* Legally binds state agriculture departments to enforce federal guidelines effectively taking away the states power to do anything other than being food police for the federal government.
* Effectively criminalizes organic farming, but doesn’t actually use the word 'organic.'
* Affects anyone growing food, even if they are not selling it but consuming it.
* Affects anyone producing meat of any kind including wild game.
* Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics, which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.
* Section 103 is almost entirely about the administrative aspect of the legislation. It will allow the appointing of officials from the factory farming corporations and lobbyists and classify them as experts and allow them to determine and interpret the legislation. Who do you think they are going to side with?
* Section 206 defines what will be considered a 'food production facility' and what will be enforced upon all food production facilities. The wording is so broad based that a backyard gardener could be fined and more.
* Section 207 requires that the state’s Agriculture department act as the food police and enforce the federal requirements. This takes away the states power and is in violation of the 10th amendment.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Joining the Marines????

I never thought I'd see the day when I would have a hairdo like a Marine!!!!! But I do have to say. . . . I've never been so happy to see HAIR!!!!




Today was the first day I ventured out WITHOUT my cancer hat! It's just getting too hot anymore to wear that thing. And since I've been on the Arimidex (the hormone blocker), I have been one HOT MOMMA, with the crabby sweats! No kidding, I've been sleeping with those ice packs that you put in your picnic coolers. It's that bad.
I go from ice cold, cuddling in quilts, to throwing them off, declaring to the whole world (mostly just Buster as he is the only one who will listen) that I'm dying of the heat! So hats are gone! If you want to call me "sir", a marine, or whatever, I'll put up with it until I get some more hair. Funny how it's growing in. white around the edges, black on top. And it's as soft as puppy fur --- everyone wants to rub it like you do a puppy's belly!!!!!

So I saw the Dr. today. Or should I say the nurse practioner. Does anyone ever see a Dr. anymore????? But. . . . I must say, I REALLY like this lady! She takes a lot of time, cares a lot, asks a million questions, etc. Blood Pressure is down, so that is one worry off the list.

Came home, only to wait a little and head back out for the radiation treatment. #21 today. Again, everyone wanted to rub my head!!! It was like some kind of celebration. But a few hours after the treatment, I noticed blisters!!!! Those dreaded blisters have now appeared. I'm glad, though, that I only have a few more weeks to go with this and it will all be getting better again. I keep telling myself that I had the all time worst sunburns when I was a kid and lived through double peelings, horrible pain, etc., so I can get through this, too. What's the worst that could happen. . . . I whine and moan a little to whoever will listen.

By the way, have you ever seen a mastectomy scar that has been radiated, heated up repeatedly, slathered with grease, and recooked????? If you don't want to look, quit now! But here it is! Mind you, this is from the center of my sternum to my armpit:




In another month, this will all be forgotten and behind me. At least that is what I keep telling myself! Don't you just love that old song, "We've come this far by faith. . . ."

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Crappy Doctor's Visit!

Ok! So maybe that's a little harsh to use the word, "crappy!" As I said in my last post, I am having some "separation issues" with all of this, and don't like the words "almost done," etc. Now, all of a sudden, I WANT to be monitored by a doctor, and I want to know the minute a cancer cell reappears somewhere and have it zapped out of me right then and there! Being weaned off my oncologist is NOT a secure feeling for me. But I do know that his job is done. . . for now. . . . forever, I hope and pray!

I thought today I would have LOTS of questions for this guy about how I would know if the cancer was coming back, what are the symptoms to look for, etc., etc. But he took control of the session right from the start. He looked at the site where my boob once was, and had this HUGE smile on his face, his eyes lit up, and he was almost giggly happy as he said, "BOY!!!!! does that ever look great! I never dreamed that it would close up like that!", etc., etc. And to him, that was the end! Kapotz! Over! Success! When I did ask about the future, it was like I burst his balloons of celebration. All he could tell me was, if I suspect something or feel something, let him know. And I don't see him again for another 6 weeks. So that was the extent of my 6-week check up.

So. . . . I guess I'm doing fine for now. A couple more weeks of radiation every day, and that will all be over with, too! Isn't it strange how we become so attached to the care we receive. As long as I felt I was doing something to "fight" this cancer thing, I felt positive. Now. . . .I don't know how to feel. For nine months, this has been my focus, and there hasn't been much else in my life except getting through each day of treatment. Now all of a sudden, I have my life back, and I'm finding there isn't much in my life at all right now.

New beginnings. Where do I start? I do know one thing, my heart has changed a LOT! No more whining about what I don't have, about what I'd like to have, etc., etc. I've become so thankful for each day, for the people around me who have cared so much and helped me through, for all my blogging friends, their prayers and love and encouragement, and learning what's important in life and what is not. Values seem to change when you begin to calculate. . . . all the charts seem to say that I have a 68% chance of this cancer returning within two years. Not very good odds, to say the least. If I make it past the two years, then it goes down to 51% chance of returning. With those figures constantly dancing in my head, there are a lot of things being tossed from the "important" pile into the "not important" pile, believe me! I've also begun to re-evaluate my faith. I always thought I had a very strong faith, but find myself wondering why I have this anxious feeling all the time! If I were so full of faith, I would just go on about my daily to-do lists and not worry about tomorrow at all. I've so appreciated all the comments that you have left me about living for today and not worrying. I feel very guilty about how many times I have told others that, not understanding what they were going through. Now that I'm there, I do understand, and the Lord has shown me my lack of trust and reliance on Him. I am way too self-sufficient and self-relient, and to be stripped of that is very hard!

So my goal for tomorrow is to NOT think about cancer returning, but rather, to think about finding something new and beautiful in each new day God gives me! Want to join me?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wisteria and Radiation

I can't believe how fast things change once the weather turns warm for a week or so! All the leaves are popping out on the trees --- even my Sycamore tree is showing a return to life. But the most beautiful site of all is this:



I have to say, Wisteria has to be one of my all time favorite flowers (or vine) and whenever I see it, I always stop and gaze for a while! Those sites where it has overtaken a house, or an archway, etc., is so breathtaking, and I'm hoping mine will just cover my whole fence one day.

Another week down with radiation and heat treatments! Half way through with 16 over with. I can't say that anything is sore or hurting --- there is a little redness in the area that is being treated. But I'm making sure I keep creams, etc., slathered all over it as much as I can. Kay, over at
The Rustic Cottage
is on a quest to come up with a "radiation cream" for me and others going through breast cancer. She makes the most wonderful soaps, lotions, creams, etc., so go over there and check her out! It seems that radiation gradually breaks down the skin to where it begins to sluff off, leaving raw, oozing "burns" at times. I'm hoping to avoid that. Most gals say that it heals up pretty fast after the treatments are over. I'll be looking forward to seeing what Kay comes up with.

The only side affect I seem to have from the radiation is being a little more tired than usual. I can handle that. But I am a little concerned about the fluctuating blood pressure. I never had problems with that before. Sometimes it's like 200/105, other times it's 130/88. The Dr. gave me pill to take each day, and an "emergency pill" for when it is over 160/100. After a while, you become obsessed with taking your blood pressure, and I've just had to put the machine away and set certain times for taking it. What is --- is! It seems that one of the main side effects to Arimidex is high blood pressure. I would hate to have to give that up, as it is the best hormone inhibitor there is for those whose cancer is hormone positive (which mine is.) I'm praying I can get the blood pressure under control and still take the pill!

Hair!!!!! It's really growing fast now. It feels like a short-haired dog's fur. I'm almost tempted to go out now with NO hat at all and just show the world my radical head! The hats are getting HOT, and since I seem to be having the sweats lately, I'll be very glad to be rid of those things! I remember when I first lost my hair, my head was soooo sensitive and I would say, "My hair hurts!" I had forgotten about that until someone mentioned their head being sensitive. I think in the midst of other horrible reactions to chemo, your head becomes the least of your complaints and you forget about that one!

The feelings I've been having have been strange ones lately as I come to the end of this cancer journey. I've looked forward so much to being rid of all this and ending all the trips to the Cancer Center, etc. But as my appointments become farther and farther apart with my oncologist (first every 2 weeks, then every 6 weeks, etc.), I have this underlying slight panic feeling that maybe I need more. . . . of what, I don't know! All the "what if's" seem to creep in. I wonder what the signs and symptoms are if the cancer shows up somewhere else, how soon, is it there now, etc. I sound pretty faithless, don't I? But all those who have been down this road seem to have those same fears. You look at all the per centages of possible return cancer and you wonder which side of those numbers you are on -- the return cancer or the cancer free.

All I can say is, cherish each day God gives you. Learn what is really important, get rid of what isn't! Take time with those you love, and nurture your relationship with the Lord. In the end, when all is said and done, isn't that really the most important thing in life?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Recipe for Washing Clothes!



oh, for those good old days again. Now count your blessings!





Washing Clothes Recipe

Never thought of a 'washer' in this light before..what a blessing!

' Washing Clothes Recipe' -- imagine having a recipe for this ! ! !

Years ago an Alabama grandmother gave the new bride the following recipe:

This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook - with spelling errors and all.


WASHING CLOTHES

Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.

Shave one hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.

To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don't boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed.. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.
================================================
Paste this over your washer and dryer Next time when you think things are bleak, read it again, kiss that washing machine and dryer, and give thanks. First thing each morning you should run and hug your washer and dryer, also your toilet---those two-holers used to get mighty cold!

For you non-southerners -wrench means rinse. ;)

AND WE THNK WE HAVE IT ROUGH?

Friday, March 13, 2009

More of the Same!

I know it's been a while since I posted last. Whenever I sat down here at the computer, it seemed that I could only repeat my last post, as I seem to be doing the same thing day after day after day. . . .

You would think by now they would have developed something where you wouldn't have to go every single day for this radiation treatment. Get up, wait a while, shower (make sure you get all the cream off that you slathered on the day before), get dressed, last minute check for underarm odor (no deodorant allowed), drive all the way to the Cancer Center, spend 2 minutes getting the treatment, and home again. I don't know why, but it seems to ruin the whole day.

Radiation does seem to have a tiring effect on people. And I'm feeling it. I don't feel like doing anything afterwards. Sleeplessness might have something to do with that. I am having the night sweats like crazy. In fact, I'm taking ice packs to bed with me!!!!

My chest is just starting to show some redness. I've finished 11 treatments, so that's 19 more to go.

The only problem I've run into is very high blood pressure all of a sudden. I just can't believe it, as I've never had blood pressure problems before. I had my weekly check in with blood work, weight, temp, and BP taken, and the BP was sky high. My oncologist gave me a prescription for it, but said I had to find a primary care physician as he "didn't do blood pressure." So I have an appointment with someone on Monday. More running around!

And I'm getting hair! It looks very salt and pepper right now. I was hoping for some curls, but it doesn't look like that will happen. I'll be glad to be rid of the hats, that's for sure.

I have really felt guilty, though, about being a little irritated, impatient, and crabby about these radiation treatments. It's so hard to hear of others at the Cancer Center who are entering Hospice care because nothing worked for them, or to see an elderly old lady crying because her husband was getting his leg amputated that day while she was getting her treatments at the cancer center, etc., etc. The Lord has been so good to me through this journey. I guess when I'm tired, I just wish it could all be over with. . . . .!!!!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

My First Radiation and Hyperthermia Treatments

I'm on the last leg of this long journey, and I'll be so glad when it's over. I'm NOT looking forward to these 6 weeks, believe me!

Thursday, I started with my first radiation treatment. A whole lot of time getting showered, dressed, and driving all the way there, then being "prepped" like a Thanksgiving Turkey, all for two 12-second shots of radiation!!!!! Now I have more X's on my chest! I'm beginning to look like a bull's eye for target practice. After the 12 seconds of lying in my personal mold, it was over and back home again.

Today, I went in early in order to get the Hyperthermia treatment. Chatty Cathy never stopped talking the whole hour and a half I was in there. From the beginning, she explained the treatment, asked me some questions, then got me up on the table -- again --- naked from the waist up. A box that measures about 9 x 9 inches is up above me, and this has a plastic bottom to it that is filled with water. She adjusts this to come down on my chest. First, she had me feel it with my hand and asks if I think it's too hot for me to stand or if it's ok. I thought it felt fine. So she puts it down where the stitch line is on my chest, and there I am for a whole hour heating up like a pot roast in a crock pot. Chatty Cathy is still talking. I heard all the gossip about everyone in the Cancer center, who left, who is going with who, etc., etc. She worships my oncologist, told me all the wonderful things about him, told me all about her marriage, kids, etc., etc., etc. One thing informative she did talk about, though, was when I asked her about my mastectomy. The radiologist had used the term "Toilet Mastectomy" when referring to my surgery. I couldn't find any information about that. She tried looking it up, but finally called someone and asked. Come to find out, it is when the total breast is removed, and they completely scrape away all the bad, dead tissue (necrotic tissue) off the chest wall. As the surgeon had said, "I scraped you clean."

When I told her I had this awful fear of radiation because of an uncle many years ago who was burned so badly, she said, "Oh, you won't have burns! Maybe a few layers of skin will come off -- kind of like a rug burn or something!" Well. . . . I'm thinking to myself, NOT looking forward to THAT under my arm!!!!

OK! Finally the hour is up, and the box is lifted off my chest. My trusty sister jumps up and takes a look and says, "Yep!!! VERY red!" I'm put into one of those little gowns and rushed across the hall to get my radiation treatment. Into the mold I go again. This time, the gal puts what feels like a sandbag over my HOT chest. She says, "This will help bring the radiation up to the skin!" Boy! They are just out to destroy my skin, it seems! So, I count to 12 and it's done. Nope! She takes the sandbag off, and and I get ANOTHER 12 seconds. TWO today.

And that's done. Oh, this gal took a look and said, Red already!!!!! I'm going to give you a bunch of tubes of cream and be sure to use it constantly. So I went out with a handful of greasy stuff to use. I felt like I was melting the butter to baste the chicken!!!!

So. . . . two down and 28 to go. It will be every day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks. Two days a week, I get the heat treatment. They say that the radiation is 30% more effective with this. Bring it on!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuna Noodle Casserole



Last week, my sister told me she was making a tuna noodle casserole. My mouth started watering, believe me!!!! Years ago, this was something that was always on my menu, but it seemed to have been forgotten for years. So you KNOW what I made this week. . . . Yep!. . . . Tuna noodle casserole. And believe me, I had forgotten how good this can be. So give it a try, even if you think you don't like tuna!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

6-8 cups of egg noodles
2 regular sized cans of tuna, drained (I used the white stuff)
2 regular sized cans of cream of mushroom soup(or cream of celery, or 1 of each)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finally chopped
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded chedder cheese
2 cups milk
1 can peas, drained

Cook noodles in salted water till just done (not soggy!)
Melt butter and over medium heat, cook onions, celery and peppers till just tender (not browned)
Mix in drained tuna, soup, cheese, milk and peas
Mix all this with drained noodles
Put in greased casserole dish
Top with crushed potato chips or french fried onions (I like the onions best)
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
I had to lower the heat as my onions were getting a little too brown.

This makes a great one dish meal, or serve with a nice salad.

I love meals that have only a few dishes to wash afterwards. Although, I must say, I filled a bag full of cans, had several pans to wash, etc., etc., but at least it was all cleaned up BEFORE dinner.
1 cup crushed potato chips, or french fried onions