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!

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


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