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Holy Guacamole!

Ok, so the title is a bit far from original, so forgive my punning.  I decided to start off this recipe writing-thing out with something super easy.  Through this process I’m sure you’ll find out (I’m looking at you, mom) that I am indeed not a chef, and quite possibly am just flat out lucky when things turn out good.  The process for cooking something new in my house tends to follow this pattern.

Step 1: Find new recipe online/on a box/in a book/in a recipe folder.

Step 2: Try out said recipe — this usually has me going back and forth to google trying to figure out how the heck to substitute some fancy ingredient and/or kitchen gadget that’s totally foreign and unavailable to me.

Step 3: Throw it at the kids and the husband.  Pray they don’t reject it.

Step 4: Approval means the kids will eat it and the husband doesn’t give you the, “That..um..I’ll eat this, but I really would prefer to never eat it again,” speech.

Step 5:  If it’s approved?  Save it, adjust it to make it better, continue on.  If rejected?  Quietly remove the recipe from memory and pretend it never happened.

And now you know my process.  Not really anything spectacular.   So, with that knowledge in mind, I give to you…my recipe for guacamole.

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Growing up I was always denied guacamole for one major reason.  Despite my mother’s objection to avocados as being slimy-textured disgusting things, she never would have denied me a food based on her dislike for the taste.  If that were the case, I would have never tasted watermelon in my life.  Not so the case with avocados.  See, my mom is very, very allergic to avocados.  Much to the dismay of many a waiter at Mexican restaurants when she says “No guac”, going without tends to mean we also get to have a nice evening without my mother breaking out in hives and having a near-anaphylactic experience.  So, as you can imagine, this dip was not something I had a chance to enjoy growing up.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was able to poke around more freely with recipes — especially having two roommates that had a much better grasp on food.  Diana, my first, always had an eye for good comfort home-made food.  Teresa, my second roommate, knew her way around a garden and its’ contents far better than I had ever seen (my mom affectionately calls herself a brown-thumb.  Sadly, I, too, can claim this.).  Top this with my (at the time) boyfriend’s mother (now my mother-in-law) chipping in with ideas, my knack for google-fu, and my best friend Jenn baking alongside me the whole way I started to get a little more comfortable with new things in the kitchen.  I was wary the day Teresa pulled out an avocado, peeled it and began slicing it and eating it whole.  I’d never tried it, and even then I opted out when she offered it to me.  I did, after all, inherit my mother’s seasonal allergies, and after experiencing anaphylactic shock only a few years earlier I wasn’t so keen on testing if I’d inherited that, too.

My introduction to avocados was a slow and painful process.  I hesitantly toed my way in when somebody presented a 7 layer dip at a party.  Nudged a bit further when my mother in law made homemade guac in her food processor.  Finally broke down and tried making it after about a year of get-togethers with my close friends.  First time tried got three thumbs up, so I apparently did something right.

Recipe Source:  A bunch of random websites, picking and choosing what I liked about them.  Also friendly advice on a last minute decision in the produce section helped greatly. (Thank you, Leah!)

Serving Size: That depends entirely on how many people you have with you and how much they love guacamole.  I serve this amount with five adults present and still end up with some leftovers.  Some.

What you need:

  • 4 Avocados.  Biggish, mediumish. Whatever brand you fancy.  It took me a while to figure out how to pick out an avocado, though.  If you’re eating the guac today?  The avocado needs to be ripe–don’t refrigerate it.  It should have a very light squish to it when you touch it, but not so squishy that when you do poke it in the produce section you’re not immediately putting it back and searching your surroundings to make sure nobody saw you accidentally poke a hole in their product.  If it’s going to be a few days, the semi-hard avocados should be fine.  Leave it out of the fridge, in a window, or somewhere you prefer to let it ripen so it’ll be perfect when you go to use them.
  • 1/2 a lime.  Please don’t do what I did once, where I used and entire lime.  This is akin to using too much salt.  You actually do want to taste the avocado guys, so save your taste buds the pain.
  • Cilantro.  No serving size?  Er, no.  I usually go to the store, buy a small bushel, chop off a good chunk of it, and use that much.
  • Salt.  Yes, you do need some salt.  The amount is purely to taste, though, so make sure to taste your guac before you hit it with the seasonings.

Additional Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a red onion.  I suppose if you really, really like red onion you could use a whole one, but needless to say it’d be a bit overpowering.
  • 1/2 a tomato.  This is up to your preference.  Sometimes I throw in tomatoes.  Sometimes I don’t.
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, any color.  I’ve found that, while this is very tasty, it also brings a lot of unnecessary water to the mix.  I’d advise adding it last.

Directions:

Get yourself a decent sized bowl, a cutting board, and a knife.  Put all the ingredients in the bowl.  Mix.  Done.

No, seriously, that’s all there is to it.  If you want it chunky, don’t over mix it.  If you want it super smooth and have the fancy food processor, have a blast.

The way I fumble through it usually has me cutting up the onion and the cilantro first, simply because they make the least mess.  I try to chop the cilantro pretty small (again, a food processor would probably help if you have one), but I always end up with a leaf or two that somehow escape my keen chopping skills. Or lack of skills, you decide.

onioncilantro

I’d like to say here that I believe fancy bowls tend to be rather overrated, especially if all you’re going to do is eat the stuff. For me, my faux-tupperware will do nicely.

From there comes the avocado.  I have seen so many techniques for cutting up an avocado that it sometimes can, and will, make my head spin.  I’ve come to terms that I do not have pristine knife skills, but I can at least rotate the dang avocado around while I poke it with the tip of a very large knife.  Sometimes this ends up with perfectly split avocados.  Sometimes it ends up … not… perfectly split.  Now, I know the ideal way to remove the pit/seed whatever have you is to smack it with the blade of your knife, angle it, and the thing should pop right out.  I can tell you now that I’ve only succeeded in doing this properly once.  Most of the time I end up just shoving my fingers into the avocado and pulling the thing out.  Before you ask, yes…yes I do wash my hands.  Both before and after.

avocados

I’ve almost got this slicing part down. If your avocado is perfectly ripe it should look pretty much like this. No brown spots in sight.

If you feel fancy, you can score your avocado with the tip of the knife before removing the guts from the shell.  There are technical words for this, I know, but basically just draw a nice grid pattern with the tip of your knife through the meat of the avocado.  Don’t cut too deep to cut the skin, but deep enough that you get all the way through it.  Then use a spoon to just spoon it out.  Or, you can be like me, and skip the scoring part and simply scoop it out.  Whatever floats your boat.

chunksofavocado

Scooping instead of scoring. I’m sure my mother is gagging somewhere as she reads this. “Filthy, nasty, slimy little avocados, we hates them!”

So I lack a food processor.  Reason being is partially because I’m too lazy to get one, and also because, quite frankly, I can’t convince myself to spend that much on something that I’ll rarely use.  I do, however, have a potato masher.  While it doesn’t make the guac super creamy, it does do the job a lot better than a fork.  It’s also cheaper.  Lots cheaper.  Pretty sure you can find these under five bucks.  I also lack, sadly, a juicer of any sort.  Even the small circular hand-juicer things that my mother at least used to own.  So when it comes to juicing the lime?  Yeah, I end up squeezing it with my hands over the bowl.  Hold your hand under it to catch any potential seeds.  Lime seeds do not belong in guacamole.

tatosmasher

I love this masher. Note, I should probably use a bigger bowl next time. The masher barely fit into the thing.

Mix n’ mashed however you want it, guacamole ends up pretty good with more than just chips.  Every week we make tacos or burritos or fajitas and a little guac on them goes pretty far.  My kids, when they taste it, often give me a high-pitched “Mmmm!” before declining it on their food.  Apparently eating guac by itself is preferred in their minds, but I guess mixing flavors is something that they’ll learn to appreciate when they’re a bit older.  Refrigerate the guac so the flavors can kinda seep together and about an hour later you can dive into it.

schlorp

I should point out that it’s actually not this brown looking when it’s finished. My kitchen has a distinct incandescent yellow tint to it that I’ve yet to give up for fluorescent lighting.  Not really keen on doing so any time soon.

And that is, predictably, that.  Enjoy!

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There comes a time when you’re a blogger (or me.  Really it’s more likely if you’re anything like me, so let’s go with that analogy) that you end up running dry and sapped of creativity and end up staring blankly for hours when it comes time to write anything.  I have gone near two years with little to no postings, and I do apologize for that (to all five of you reading this, of course).   I need to rectify this.  Especially since coming online and seeing a notification from wordpress saying “Your blog stats are booming!” only to mouse over the stats to see that only 12 page views warranted this alert.

I should do something about that.

The fact is, when I sit down to write about my issues with cancer I tend to mull a bit too much.  How can this be  helpful?  Have I already written about this before?  Why is it so quiet in here?  What are my kids getting into that has them so quiet?  Did they go outside? I don’t remember sending them outside…

And so forth.

It’s not that I have a lack of things to say, but it generally boils down to me wondering, truly, if what I have to say really hasn’t been said before.  While the answer to that is an undeniable yes (as is the case with most creative endeavors), I can at least say that nobody else says it in my words and with my personal experiences.

But my life isn’t all about cancer.  I want to show people that there can and is life beyond a cancer diagnosis, despite what most social implications tell us.  In fact, I can say without blinking that most people I’ve known that have gone through cancer have survived.  This isn’t exactly an educated and highly studied statistic.  It’s my personal experience.  One that I’m happy to talk about.  However it’s not the only thing I want to talk about, and as per some of my previous posts I do have other things that make me unique.  Oddly tall, unabashed lifetime Girl Scout, artist, and, according to my mother, a chef.

I can see you laughing there behind your screen, but don’t worry, the chef part made me laugh, too.

While I don’t consider myself to be on par enough to go compete on shows like Master Chef or The Taste I do think that I do a relatively decent job at keeping my husband and kids happily fed.  My children, also, aren’t nearly as picky as others seem to be.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times that I’ve had employees in the checkout lane marvel at how my kids’ snacks vary from carrots to celery, how they’ll eat broccoli without batting an eye, and absolutely adore the peas my husband serves with his casseroles.  Now, I’m not going to peter off into a spiel about my kids amazingness — that would paint a horribly false picture and probably also get boring.  We all have faults and my kids are no exceptions.  But every mom has to have something to brag about now and then.

My daughter, on that note, went on strike at the tender age of one and a half when it came to eating anything green.  I am, admittedly, a bit warped in my solutions to things.  So when she began pushing her peas away and opting only to eat her cooked carrots and noodles, I decided to take action.  I purchased the colored pasta and only gave her the green stuff.  Rainbow colored goldfish crackers?  She got the green ones.  Mashed potatoes?  Green food coloring.  Do I need to go on?  My daughter was only given the option of green food (except for meat.  I didn’t want to try and figure out how to dye meat and …really.  Green meat.  Ew.)  for nearly six months before she decided that she’d had enough…and began to voluntarily eat her peas once more.

I’ll consider that a small notch on my belt of triumphant mommy moments.

Now that school has started up again (my house is quiet for a good reason.  I’m still not adjusted to this after summer.) I’ve decided to start experimenting around with cooking once more.  There have been frequent times when I’ve been asked for recipes, so here is where I will post them.  Written in a way that hopefully doesn’t bore you to tears.  (I’m looking at you, Betty Crocker.)

Does this mean I’ll be stopping writing about cancer?  Of course not.  My tall tales will still appear more sporadically, too.  I’m just adding in another part of my life to a blog that’s, well, about my life.  Hopefully this will prompt me to start writing once again, as I’ve begun to miss the overly obnoxious clacking of my outdated keyboard.   In any case, I hope you stick around (all five of you.  Or four.  There might be a slim chance of six.  I digress.) and see what I manage to pull out of nowhere just to give you something to read.

Cheers!

Hello people!  Whomever you are out in cyberspace that still happens to peruse over this blog, that is.  Whether you’ve long since thought I’ve dropped off the face of the planet, or you’re stumbling across my place for the very first time, again, hi!  Real life, as I’ve pointed out on my ‘about’ page has been nothing short of crazy this last year.  Between my lung cancer coming back, having to endure radiation once more, and then chemotherapy last summer you’d think I had well enough on my plate.  But really, my life isn’t about my illness, so there are a lot more things that keep my plate not only full, but overflowing.  My son is doing better, starting to adjust to his ADHD and OCD (the second surprisingly more difficult to adapt to than the first in his case) and is doing much better in school.  Every day he impresses me with how articulate he’s getting and how much better he’s doing in school.

My daughter, on the other hand, is struggling.  She’s smart, beautiful (shush, I’m not bias, I swear), and very friendly when given the inclination.  However she’s started acting out at school in the footsteps of her brother last year, and between myself, the teachers and her doctors, we’ve not quite figured out what’s going on to make her act out as much as she does.  Could be mimicry of her brother, could be emotional stress of watching me go through cancer again, or it could be ADHD as well.  Or all three.  (Admittedly I kinda doubt the third option, she seems more disinterested than distracted most times.)  She’s pretty bright and catches on quick, though, and I have no doubt she’ll come out of this stronger…it just might be a bit of a long road ahead of her before we see that come to light.

On my own I’ve been working on art commissions, slowly trudging through them when I can find the time.  The ultimate goal is to earn up enough in my commissions alone to buy an upgrade to my dated camera (Pentax K1000 … 1979!).  Film is becoming more difficult to purchase and develop, but I’ve been so spoiled by having a nice camera that I just can’t justifiably buy a replacement unless it can do what my old camera can do.  That…costs money.  Money I don’t want to pull from our savings or from our checking, so it’s going to come straight from my commissions alone.  Long story short, this may take a few years of savings at the rate I’ve been drawing as of late.

I’ve also dived back into Girl Scouting, taking a test drive leading my own Daisy troop.  Needless to say it was a struggle with everything else going on, and I have discovered that I am far better at teaching teens than I am five and six-year-old kids.  Starting in April I’ll be helping lead a troop that spans all ages, and while I’ll still be a leader in my daughter’s troop, I will be helping lead the older girls instead.  Not going to lie, it’s decidedly a win-win for me in that regard and it means my daughter gets to stay in scouting with social interaction that I think she very much needs.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more frequently, as I know this blog is how a lot of people keep up to date on how things are going in this household.  I have a few more topics I can touch on now, like this strange marvel of how I kept my hair during the last chemotherapy.  I…I’m still not sure how that happened.  But, regardless, it should be fun and hopefully much more up to date!  I might even toss in a bit of Scouting stuff and kid stuff, as I am prone to do.

(And also, as a note, I know a lot of my pictures are showing up as broken links.  All of those were linked from Facebook, which seems to not be so keen on direct linking.  I will not be doing this in the future, but I don’t think I have the time to go back and fix all the ones from the past.  So much apologies, but those broken links will likely save and drive somebody insane out there.  They..kinda drive me insane, too.)

For the last three to four months I’ve been starting and re-starting, erasing and saving this post.  Half the time I get a  paragraph in and I just walk away.  Writing, reading, memorizing, and altogether being creative lately has all but been sapped from my person until recently.  With how fleeting these moments seem to be for me, I feel it’s best to sit down, while I still have it, and write once more.

My house has been under a false sense of sanity for a while now to the casual observer.  Two kids, a semi-decent lawn, a house not completely derailed and messed, a dad who works, a mom who stays at home and looks healthy.  We smile in public, we pay our bills, and we do our best to keep ourselves informed in the world around us.  But I can tell you, right now, that what you see is only the tip of the iceberg.  Not to use cliché statements or anything but really, what you see of the iceberg is small compared to what’s beneath the surface.  A little lesson I’m sure the survivors of the Titanic could tell you in spades.

When you dig a little deeper, though, boy are things on the crazy side.

The short list of crazy?

  • The axle on my car broke.
  • A pipe burst in our back yard.
  • My son was diagnosed with ADHD.
  • My son keeps getting into fights at school.
  • I just spent the last three months in radiation therapy.
  • The roof keeps trying to leak.
  • Found out that I’ll be starting chemotherapy soon, even though I’d hoped to avoid it again.

And now…for some expansion, because when you just list it out like that it really, really comes across as bad.

Car Chaos

So, last summer as I was driving to and from various doctor appointments (All part of my monthly routine, mind you.  These were just followup and checkups) I heard a few strange noises coming from under the hood.  Both the brake and the oil light came on together, giving me reason for alarm.  Searching through the manual just told me to replace the belt, checked under the hood…the belt was fine.  Attached. Didn’t seem off at all.  So I pulled onto the freeway and headed home. Turns out that shortly after, somewhere along I-5, I lost one of the pulleys from my engine.  I pity the driver who had to dodge the bouncing thing that was somewhere, somehow, ejected at seventy miles per hour.  This, of course, stopped my battery from charging.  Over the forty mile trek I watched my battery power slowly deplete and by the time I was backing into the garage all of the interior lights had gone out and the car sputtered to an uneasy stop. My husband came home, figured it out with some research, and after a bit of Google-fu did his own fix.

This seemed to be all right for a while. Until I was about halfway through Radiation this year.  It rattled. It squeaked.  And every time I turned the corner it sounded like somebody tossed a wrench in the engine just to watch it bounce around.  Taking a leap of faith I found a mechanic to look at it and it turned out that not only did my husband install the pulley wrong–but that my axle was grinding out its’ last few breaths of life.  Every corner turned was a protest of agony that could be heard five blocks away and sent me sinking down in the driver’s seat in shame.  Between my parents and my husband taking a day off, the mechanic had it to me the next day, fixed up and ready to go.  This alone wouldn’t have been too bad, but…

Backyard Flooding

The same day I’d been trying to figure out the axle, I came home to yet another surprise.  I stepped into the house, went to fill up my water bottle and noticed that the water pressure was insanely low.  I could hear water running in the pipes.  Checking frantically I could not find the source.  Finally I ran outside to see water bubbling up from the ground like a primitive drinking fountain.  Calls to the city, plumbers, and my husband led me to seeing dollars that I just didn’t have fly out the window.  After monetary help from both my parents and my husband’s parents and, of course, turning the water to the house off, we finally finagled a solution out.

Long story short?  The city I live in, last year, changed their water source.  It used to have a low pressure, flowing easily downhill.  When they changed, the direction in the pipes all shifted, having to add pressure to suddenly deliver water uphill. There was at least a little consolation knowing that my house was one of many that had to face pipes bursting in back yards.  Now if I can just hold my breath, cross my fingers and not asphyxiate myself in the process hopefully, just hopefully, the pipes in my house can handle the water now coming in from a brand new line in my back yard.

Parenting Challenges

I like to think that my own health offers my family enough challenges, but often I am reminded that there are no real limits to what can be thrown into the gears.  I’ve suspected for a while that my son might have hints of ADD, possibly even Autism.  This year, his first grade year in school, things seem to have boiled over.  He can’t keep his hands to himself.  He randomly would stand, walk around, drop to the floor, kick at his chair.  He has troubles verbalizing things, even if he does understand them.  I am constantly having to remind him to use his words.  Unfortunately it got to the point at school that he was becoming a danger to other children.

Now, before anybody assumes, I am going to point something out.  My son is amazing.  I could write an entire blog post gushing about how much my son has already gone through and triumphed and it still wouldn’t give you the best indication of his personality.  He’s joyful and curious, creative and full of ideas.  He loves to smile, to have fun, and is so very wonderful to his little sister.

In January he was diagnosed with ADHD after I finally managed to meet with a doctor from Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital in Portland.  Even though he flaps his arms when he’s concentrating, opts to yell or grunt or make awkward noises instead of speaking, and will at times pace or run circles in the house so he can think (‘Dream dancing’, as he calls it), the doctors have dismissed the possibility of Autism.  Unfortunately, like so many people with experience with ADHD know, ADHD tends to not just come alone.

The medication did wonderful for him for a couple of months, almost five in total, but now it seems to be petering off and he’s resorting to old habits.  It may require a dosage change, but there may be other things going on.  OCD, Asbergers…these are just two of many possible things that have been put onto the table.  Not to mention that he’s watched his mother go through cancer three times in his short life…which I cannot imagine is easy on a child’s shoulders.  I don’t think he understands the possible gravity of my situation, but I’d be a fool to think that my poor health hasn’t had an effect on him.

Radiation Reality

Yes, they even give you a certificate when you finish. My daughter was there with me for every treatment, enjoying the waiting room and free access to PBS. I'm sure she'll miss it more than I will.

Yes, they even give you a certificate when you finish. My daughter was there with me for every treatment, enjoying the waiting room and free access to PBS. I’m sure she’ll miss it more than I will.

And on that note…well, the good news is that I am done with radiation.  The small tumor between my esophagus and my bronchial tubes has been radiated up until the beginning of this month.  The side effects of pain in the area are mostly gone now, but I seem to have a cough that doesn’t want to leave me alone.  The dead tissue in my lungs often contracts, too, and I find myself struggling to breathe.  Chances are I might be coughing for the rest of my life and keeping an inhaler in reach for days that I just can’t get my lungs to fully expand on their own.

As I step further from radiation I’m getting my energy back, which is good because I was about as useful as a sloth for the longest time around here.  I’m walking more, I’m up and capable of doing laundry and dishes and cooking once more.  But Monday proved to me that I still can’t quite get through the grocery store without struggling.  Normally I can come home and help my husband unload the van and put things away.  When I walked in this time, however, all I could do was sit. This much is a general frustration on my end every time I go through some sort of extensive treatment.  Be it for surgery, chemotherapy or radiation none really prove to give me an energy boost.

Under One Roof

So, a year ago my roof, in the middle of the night, started to leak.  We patched it as best as we could, but by Summer of 2013 we were up there for months peeling off old shingles and putting new ones on with a fresh spread of tar paper.  This took most of our summer, and I was under the impression it was done.  It was a bit on the chaotic side,  however, when I came home only a week after the back yard and car issues to find my laundry room light full of water and spilling over onto the floor.  It took a few tries and testing and one hefty tarp, but my husband figured out where he’d missed a bit of roofing tar.

While it seems to be doing all right, I admittedly cringe a lot more during a heavy rainstorm–which spring has supplied us endlessly with so far.  It looks good, I think, and I’m hoping to paint the house to match  this summer.  Changing it from a chewed Trident cinnamon gum look to a nice navy blue will be a welcome look, I think.  Maybe it’ll stop the door-to-door salesfolk from coming up and making silly conversation with me:

“Hey there, we’re in the neighborhood fixing up a gal’s place over on Field.  We noticed that your roof is old and looking like it needs repair!”

“My roof…is brand new.”

“..r..really?”

“Yep. Just replaced it last Summer.”

Two of these in a row.  The second looked properly abashed, gave us his card and left.  The first, however, kept putting his foot in his mouth.

“Oh…w..it looks old.”

“It’s not.”

“R..right. So about your windows, looking to update those?”

“When we can afford to, but right now I’m about to go into chemotherapy so we’re saving up our funds.”

“Really? You don’t look like you have cancer.”

This received a long silence from me.

“That is…I mean, you have hair, which is neat. Lucky you!  My aunt lost hers during chemo.”

“I haven’t started chemotherapy yet.”

At this point he made a hasty departure.  Somehow I don’t think he felt he was going to get a sale.  The ‘No Solicitors” sign should have helped, but…some people are apparently illiterate.

Chemotherapy … again

And now it all boils down to this.  As I approach Summer and a few months of weather that will allow for house painting, swimming lessons, and the summer camp that I help run, I’m also facing an entirely different issue.  For the first time during summer I’ll be going through chemotherapy.  Four months of it.  Once a week for two weeks in a row, then one week off, then back two weeks, wash, rinse, repeat.  It won’t be near as much driving as radiation, but again, I will lose my hair.  I will be exhausted.  I will be a useless sloth once more.  But somehow I’m going to do it.  It’s not a matter of bravery, it’s a matter of …well…really, what other option do I have?  In my eyes there’s only one other and it isn’t an option.

I have until after my CT scan to get things done for camp—which has not been scheduled yet.  While I’d like to put it off as long as I can to get things done, I know that after I do a little spell check and re-read this for errors…I’m going to be on the phone trying to figure out what’s taking so long.

And then?  Well, at least I didn’t give away my scarves, eh?

I still live, I do promise that.  I’ve got a post that I’ve been working on for near five weeks now, but it seems every time I sit down to write I get;

A:  Distracted by small children running me in circles.

or

B: Fall asleep at the keyboard.

Radiation does tend to wipe you out, after all. Hopefully soon I’ll get my next post up and get back into the writing groove.  Hope the world is treating the rest of you well!

Holding Still

There’s always that lapse of time between diagnosis and treatment that is riddled with tests and multiple doctor appointments.  Over the last two weeks I think I’ve spent a vast majority of my time in my car driving to and from the various doctors offices.  To my list of specialists I’ve added a new radiation oncologist, who has, as of yesterday, had me fitted for a new pillow.  There’s a technical term out there, but it’s essentially a plastic bean bag pillow that they lay you on and suck all of the air out of so that it forms neatly to your back.  Line it up with my old radiation dots and you’ve got a pre-posed position suitable for every radiation treatment.  After doing a little fitting the official word is that my treatments will begin next Friday.  I’ll be continuing radiation treatments for six weeks and after that there’s still the possibility of chemotherapy on top of it.  Both my oncologist and I are a bit hesitant to jump into that just yet.

Radiation is going to be a bit different, from everything I’ve been told.  I will likely have that deep sore throat that will last for far too long once more.  My heart will be exposed, as will my spine, lungs, and esophagus.  There’s a whole list of things that could turn wrong, including the risk of secondary cancers from the radiation. (Hah!  Secondary.  I think I’m a bit beyond that, somewhere in the quaternary and quinary arena.)  My radiation oncologist seemed a bit surprised that, due to how the cancer is pressing on both my esophagus and my bronchial tract that I’m not coughing up blood.  I’m not sure what to think when I’m not having an expected symptom.  Am I not coughing hard enough to make the cancer cells hemorrhage? Should I be aiming for this?  Somehow…I think I’m going to count myself lucky in this case.

Image

I live in the shadow of a volcano. This isn’t metaphorical for anything, I just..really like that volcano and this update was in dire need of a picture.

Amid all of this what do I do?  I live on.  My daughter will be registering for Kindergarten today with the same teacher that my son had.  I’m working on getting the Day Camp I help run planned and ready to run, and also trying to wrap up what commissions I have so that I’m not leaving those who’ve requested them out in the lurch.  It’s the day in and day out chaos that most people expect on some level or another.  I get by, press on, and enjoy every minute I can.  Really, what else should I do?

Well, that happened.

Cancer has so many imprints of my shoe on it's proverbial rear at this point, I may as well add another.

Cancer has so many imprints of my shoe on it’s proverbial rear at this point, I may as well add another.

From the picture alone you can gather exactly what’s been going on in my absence from my journal.  Between taking care of my son, who is, in fact, ADHD and starting his own vast array of treatments and dealing with my side of the health spectrum, life has been nothing short of crazy.  Some things do get neglected in those situations and for that I apologize.

A few weeks after Christmas the entire family came down with a round of the worst head-cold known to the history of man.  Or at least to me.  As I watched my kids and my husband each get sick and get over their illnesses I noticed that one thing was a bit off.  My cough wasn’t getting better.  In fact, it was becoming incredibly difficult to breathe in through my right lung.  I could fill it.  But it took a lot more effort than it should have.  I didn’t do much, however, knowing that I had a CT scan scheduled for January.

Well, the CT came and went, only to show that I had a few inflamed lymph nodes.  Because of my history (I could almost trademark that statement, I hear it so often) they sent me in for another bronchoscopy a week ago to poke around.  Turns out there’s a bit of a cancerous return that’s poking into my airways–hence the difficulty breathing.  That’s right, lung cancer is back.

This time we’re not really looking at chemotherapy, for a first, and since it’s in the lymph nodes it’s not really something they can fully operate on.  So what’s on the table?

Radiation.

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you’ll know that my lung cancer and breast cancer were caused by the radiation I went through ten years ago for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I have my reservations, but really at this point it’s down to me having much less options due to just how much my body has gone through.  Four chemotherapies, one radiation, several surgeries, and two pregnancies can do a number on a body.  Even if they were spread out over fifteen years.  Ultimately, for me, I want a cure.  Everybody does.  That goes without question.  But if that’s not possible, I want to live as long as I can and still go kicking and screaming in the end.  It’s not just about me anymore, it’s about my children, my husband, my parents and his parents, all of my family and friends.  Even for the checker at Fred Meyer who loves to chat with me every time I get groceries.

Not to mention that I’ve been told explicitly by several people that I’m not allowed to die any time soon.  Can’t go disobeying orders now, can I?

So here is where I stand, waiting on a PET scan to make certain that this is all collected in one small area before I delve into radiation therapy.   I won’t sit here and start cackling about the prospect of possibly not losing my hair, though, since I went and drew up an entire comic on it last time…and still lost my hair.  Some day I won’t put my foot in my mouth, honest.  Either way, though, it stands to say that I’ll likely be dusting this blog off again and writing a bit more.

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