Monday, July 30, 2012

Caregiver Podcast

Listen up! Caregiver Expert and author of The Medical Day Planner, Tory Zellick, discusses all things caregiver with me. If you have a caregiver or are a caregiver, click on the arrow to start the podcast and learn valuable things that will help you both.

And, don't forget to enter the contest for the book, which closes Wednesday at midnight CA time. Right now, the odds are excellent!

Go to All Things Caregiver for more information.

Listen to internet radio with But Doctor I hate pink on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Medical Day Planner - Review and Contest!

I can't be more enthusiastic about the book The Medical Day Planner: The Guide to Help Navigate the Medical Maze by Tory Zellick. This book is just that - truly an amazing guide. It's a portable, easy-to-use planner, designed for patients or caregivers to keep track of information necessary during the course of a loved one's cancer diagnosis. It allows you to easily track doctor's information, medication history, treatments, procedures, tests and scans, appointments, hospitalizations and also includes a 52 week day planner. These sections all cross-reference, allowing you and your caregiver to be prepared during the course of your illness.

Not only are there spaces to write down and keep track of this information, there are pages with information on why you should keep track, what terms mean, and other helpful tips for both patient and caregiver alike.

I wish WISH WISH I'd had this book at the beginning of my diagnosis. I have advocated often that patients  get themselves a binder and put in all scan results, pathology reports, medical test outcomes, blood tests and other medical records as well as job/disability paperwork. Having a well-organized binder to flip through has come in handy more times than I have been able to count, but they can get unwieldy and there are things missing, such as appointments, scan dates, doctor information, medications that you will need down the road. This planner provides a place for all that and more - giving you the ability to keep all of that in one compact book. With the two things, a binder for your medical paperwork and this book to keep track of everything else, you will have every aspect of cancer treatment and history covered and will need no more.

I am the messiest organizational freak you will ever see.  I am a sucker for all organizational tools but I must say, this is one of the best.  I am in love with this book.

If you are newly diagnosed with cancer, start with this book. If you are metastatic, this is one place your loved one can go to find out all that information when the dreaded day comes you can't answer these questions yourself.  Take some time and fill it out for them.

Hmmm.....does my husband know when my last scan was? Who my doctors are? What my medications are? Probably not. All those are typical questions asked when admitted to a hospital, and there it is, right at your fingertips.  It will be so handy for a caregiver to have during that sad time - one less thing to worry about.

I haven't come across a product I like as much as this one in a long, long time.  Can you tell?

Because I like it so much, I've asked the author, Tory Zellick, to be my guest this Monday on my blog talk radio show, where we will be talking all things caregiver.  No, it won't be about this book only - we will discuss all aspects of caregiving, including how we as cancer patients can make it easier, how to best care for yourself as a caregiver, and how to emotionally prepare for the end.

And, here is the best news:  Tory  has agreed to give a book away to one of my readers! Honestly, this is a prize you want, whether you have just just been diagnosed with cancer, or are in the middle of your journey.  And, it is the perfect gift for that newly diagnosed person.

How do you win, you ask? It's easy!

Please either make a comment on my blog. (You may do so anonymously but please "sign" your comment with something that I can identify you with. Too many "anonymous" will get confusing.) Or, if you have trouble posting a comment, you may make a comment on my ButDoctorIHatePink facebook page about the book.  There will be a post dedicated to these comments.  If you haven't liked me by now, go right ahead.    And, as an added bonus,  if you "share" it from my page, I will give you two entries.

 You have until Wednesday, August 1st at midnight PDT. Thursday, I will take all qualified entries and draw them out of a hat and annouce the winner, probably via video.  Tory will then send out a copy to you.

Also, please  "like" Tory's page on facebook too. Extra karma points go for that one.

Enter. You will love this book!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Edumacatin' - C-Diff by Z-Dogg

I love me some Z-Dogg MD and especially this video, which is so close to my heart and rear. Listen up cancer patients - c-diff colitis is the worst thing I've gone through medically to date.

This edumacatin' is necessary - when sick with it, I had a hospital employee come in and see me, ungloved and ungowned. I made him leave but who knows, maybe a spore got on him and he spread it to the next patient. So if you work in a hospital, use soap and water and don't forget to glove and gown up when around a c-diff patient!

If you have a lowered immune system and must take an antibiotic, for reals, then also consider taking Florastor along with it.  While studies are not conclusive that it will prevent c-diff, there is some evidence that it might help.  Yo, if you have a port, take the capsules and not the powder. As always, ask your doctor before you take anything. Word.

Thanks to c-diff, I am a cancer patient who can never take antibiotics again. Scary.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Uproar in the Blogosphere - Angelo Merendino Photos - Updated News

So, it looks like there has been a resolution to the uproar about where to exhibit the moving photos of a woman dying of breast cancer. The Cleveland gallery has agreed to exhibit them.

I, for one, am very glad they found a more appropriate home, and I would encourage and hope that everybody go see these powerful and emotional photos. As you look at them, think of women, like me, who are undergoing the same things that Jen went through and know that she represents thousands of us across the country.

Also, I'll be on blogtalkradio in one hour. The topic will be a more fun one - the crazy things people say to us with breast cancer - and what should they say?


Friday, July 20, 2012

Uproar in the Blogosphere - Angelo Merendino Photos

It's funny, but as I continue plodding along in my journey with breast cancer, I feel less and less like fighting about anything. Hell, I even used the phrase, "journey with cancer" which would would formerly have me up in arms.

My, how I have changed.

So when the blogosphere exploded with the latest cancer controversy, I immediately decided to ignore it and maybe upload more photos of my dog.

I'm having second thoughts.

The controversy involves a man, Angelo Merendino, who took some absolutely beautiful photos of his wife as she went through her treatment and died from metastatic cancer.  Apparently, these photos were exhibited in a building called the Gathering Place, and because they upset the people who, uh, gather there, they were taken down. That news went viral, and everybody online who is involved with cancer in some way exploded with anger, feeling that cancer patients were being dissed or shoved aside. They were encouraged to like this gentlemen on facebook for a show of support.

Go ahead, his photos are beautiful; he honored his wife. I like him.

Gayle Sulik, his friend, did a post about it called "The Battle They Don't Want to See" saying about the pictures: "They are a vision of breast cancer that is too often sugar-coated with platitudes, sassy t-shirts, fun-filled fundraising galas. For some, this reality is too much to bear. But until we as a society are willing to see cancer for what it is, our capacity to support the diagnosed will always be limited."

Her post was tweeted and shared throughout the blogosphere as another example of society wanting to ignore the reality of breast cancer.

And yet, an important point is being overlooked.

And that that in this case, the ones who feel that the reality of these photos are "too much to bear" are the ones who actually have to bear the disease. It isn't society who doesn't want to look, it is people who are dying from cancer themselves who don't.

Speaking as one of the diagnosed, and one of the ones diagnosed with metastatic cancer, I agree with Gayle's overall premise.  In fact, almost exactly three years ago, as a cancer newbie not knowing what was to come, I named this blog "I hate pink" for that very reason - I didn't want to be part of the pink culture that prettifies cancer. Even back then, I knew it was ugly.  I wanted to detail it with words.

Yet, since I have become metastatic, since I am dying of cancer, my original thoughts have expanded.  If you look deeper into the story, you will see that the photos that were taken down were exhibited at a place called The Gathering Place that describes itself "as a nonprofit, community-based cancer support center to fill an unmet need in the greater Cleveland community. The programs and services offered address the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of individuals with cancer and their support network." Reading deeper into the site, they are focused solely on nurturing those with cancer. They have classes, such as movement to help with low energy, nutrition information, caregiver classes, and emotional support groups.

In reading what it is they do, and after hearing the photos upset some patients who go there, I think it is wholly appropriate that they took the photos down. The better choice would have never to have put them up to begin with, but given the nature of their mission statement and their goal to support the emotional needs of cancer patients; given that they got complaints from those with cancer, I agree that they should not have photos of a dying woman displayed in their lobby.

But why?

As a woman with metastatic cancer, I have nowhere to go where I am not confronted with the magnitude of my disease. In my personal life, I comfort my family, telling them I'm okay, it'll be okay. Weekly, I have chemo. Monthly, I see an oncologist. It's always on my mind.   I am in pain and exhausted. I will forever be in treatment. I am going to die, and I have paperwork to do, things to finish. I look at photos of my own deterioration, without even wanting too, just by flipping an album.  I don't know any other terminal people.  I rely on me.

I am faced with this illness every day, every night, without respite. I am not really welcome at support groups as I frighten the lower stage women - I am, after all, their worst nightmare. Their concerns are not my concerns.  I can find some relief and companionship online but even on the forums for Stage IV cancer, we have the family members of cancer patients turning to us for comfort and information and all too often describing their family member's death in vivid and disturbing detail - never realizing or thinking they are asking for support from women who will soon be in those same deathbeds, unseeing and unblinking and moaning in pain, same as their loved one.

If I had been able to find a place like The Gathering Place that gave me comfort and support, maybe I wouldn't want to see those photos either. That doesn't mean I don't think they shouldn't be seen, or that I bury my head in the sand - not at all. I've looked at them, and they are beautiful. My regular readers know I have always faced the truth. But, the Gathering Place is designed for cancer patients, to find healing and comfort and a sense of peace. Maybe even a little hope. Seeing graphic photos of a woman in the process of deterioration and dying from cancer every time you walk through the lobby, photos described by Gayle as filling "many of us with deep sadness and a sense of dread" has turned out to be emotionally upsetting for many who are suffering with cancer.

I am not saying the photos aren't beautiful or touching. I'm not saying they shouldn't be shown. In fact, a few are on on CNN's website. They will be in Gayle's new book.

It isn't the photos, it's the place.  And, it's all to easy to dismiss a cancer patient who doesn't want to see them as "putting their head in the sand" but you know what?  Why shouldn't we have a place where the sand is warm and comforting if that's what we want?  We have too many people telling us how to handle our disease as it is.

What I'm saying is that maybe our "capacity to support the diagnosed" as Gayle says, includes giving us, the diagnosed, a tiny space - just one - where we aren't always compelled to confront our future.

Seems to me if liking something on facebook provides support, than "The Gathering Place" deserves that same honor.

As do I.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sponsored Video: More Birthdays

As you all (should) know, I support two charities in the fight against Breast Cancer.   One, that I just wrote about, is Stand Up 2 Cancer for their pure research. The other is the American Cancer Society.  They do research as well, but they are also big on supporting cancer patients individually.

How do they do that? They put on the Look Good, Feel Better classes, which are so important to those of us who are doing chemo for the first time. They provide money that will go towards a wig reimbursement. They provide gas money for rides to doctor's offices, and they have classes for cancer patients on the subject of nutrition, emotional health, and so much more. I have called them with questions myself, and every time have gotten a live person to answer my question, with no hold time.

And a kind live person, one who, if they didn't know the answer, found out rather than giving you the runaround.

They also provide information and statistics that I have used hundreds of times on this blog and for supporting research.  Each spring, during chemo, I have received daffodils in my infusion center to brighten my day.   They put on the famous Relay for Life which goes directly to support people with cancer.  At some point on my bucket list is a goal to sponsor a "But Doctor I Hate Pink" Relay for Life team.   Back in the early, frightening days of a new diagnosis, the American Cancer Society was the group that provided me with the most help and information, and I will never forget it.

The ACS catch phrase is "more birthdays" and they work on that with ongoing research, but what they also do is make the birthdays you have left enjoyable, managable ones, by supporting you and educating you and actually helping you.   A big plus - they are not focused on breast cancer alone, or "awareness."  They will help my uncle with Prostate Cancer, my Aunt with Lung Cancer, and they surely have helped somebody in your family and if they haven't, well, you are pretty lucky.

Of all the charities out there, this is the only one I have personally benefited from. You can see how I feel about ACS in former posts about them here and here and here.  So, while I have just asked you to donate to Stand Up 2 Cancer, I also would like you to consider donating to the ACS.

The world does need more birthdays.

This post is sponsored by the ACS, but don't think that I don't mean what I say.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Little things

My blogtalkradio show starts today at 2:00 pm PDT, 5:00 Eastern.  The topic is metastatic cancer. Share your story or ask a question.  The number to call to talk to me is 347-215-7838.

As alluded to, I am starting a newsletter.  The subscribe button is to your right. --->   My plan is to do it monthly, and put in things I don't want to clutter up the blog but find interesting: recipes for a healthful life, helpful products for the cancer patient, stories about the latest in cancer research and just general fun stuff.  If I get a ton of interested people, maybe I'll do it bi-weekly.  If none, maybe quarterly.  :)

I used MailChimp because they comply with the Can-Spam Act of 2003. That means they won't spam you and I won't spam you.  You will be able to unsubscribe at any time, and I will never use your email address for anything but the newsletter.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Meet Trista

This morning I woke up rather abruptly.  I was lying on my back, an unusual position for me, near the edge of the bed.  I felt some scratching and scrambling across my belly and realized groggily a dog was trying to get into bed with me, and using my body as traction to do so.  I have a high bed, too high for dogs to get in naturally, and I'm not the type to buy those little carpeted stairs that dogs can take to get into bed with you.  Dogs belong on the floor in soft comfy dog beds, people belong on old swayed people beds, and no stairs should bridge the spaces.  

No anthropomorphism here.

I might put hats on the dogs for Christmas, but that's about it.  Greyhounds look pretty cute in hats, you gotta admit.

Anyway, this morning dog paws were digging in my stomach, tiny dog nails were scratching my arms, floppy dog ears were slapping my shoulders, and back legs were scrabbling on the end of the mattress, trying to get a foothold.  And, I remembered yes, I have a new puppy; she doesn't know about sleeping late, about beds being for people only.  Then I noticed another sensation.  There were four dog paws grabbing my belly for traction, not two.  The older dog was taking her cue from the puppy and also was trying to get into bed.  I opened my eyes and saw two dog heads right above me.

"Cherry!  You know better!"

And, then I heard it.  A hissing sound.

The cat was beside my head, right on my pillow.  The cat who IS allowed in the bed, the one who sleeps beside me each night. I realized that the cat has not yet had the opportunity to teach the puppy who is the boss.

And, I also realized, she may end up doing so, right on my face.

The puppy managed to scramble up into the bed and was lying in my belly, chewing my fingers, helicoptering her tail, squirming into my body, just inches from the cat, who continued hissing.  Cherry, the older dog, couldn't make it and was whining in defeat.

Anything I did was bound to be wrong in this dangerous situation.  I had to try anyway. Nobody was coming to help, and I would have to manage to get out of bed without getting scratched.

But how?

I gently petted the cat at the base of her tail until she calmed down, then pushed her a little out of the way.  I sat up, and grabbed the puppy's collar and asked her to get off the bed.  This relieved Cherry, who calmed down.  And, I got up to have coffee, trailed into the kitchen by animals.

My indoor cat, Pixel, has lived all her life with a series of dogs.  She's been through an Australian Shepherd (who lived 17 years), a Labrador (13), and now is on her 3rd greyhound: Stoli who died about a year ago of cancer,  and current dogs,  Cherry, who is 3 and now Trista, who is 4 months old.    Pixel is about as exited about these predators dogs as one would imagine.  She spends much of her life glaring balefully at them, and hiding in the dining room chairs and swiping at them as they go past, just to teach them who is boss. She has trained every dog we have had to cower before her.   For a while, we were down to just the one dog, Cherry, but now there is this puppy and she knows she's going to have to train a new dog all over again.  She must be feeling like it will never end, this series of dogs.  I know all she wants is to be alone with me, curled in my lap, and bossing me around for that mysterious thing that cats are always asking for that we can never figure out.


I can't give her a dog-free life, but I can give her a safe zone: my bed, curled up in my stomach.  So, no dogs allowed, sorry Trista.

I have heard the voices of incredulity out in the blogosphere.  Wait?  You have a terminal illness?  And, you just got a puppy?  A dog likely to outlive you?

First, I am hoping that isn't the case.  I feel good right now. And, life goes on, does it not?  Am I expected to forgo all joys in life, even if it means that my husband will end up with two dogs and no wife some day?  (He likes dogs, and hell, maybe walking a greyhound will attract a new woman for him.  Trust me when I say that in NorCal, greyhounds are not common dogs and people stop you on the street to ask you about them.)

Besides, Trista is not for me. She's Cherry's pet.    After the roof incident, Cherry has never been the same.  She has turned into what they call a "spook" greyhound.  She's always been timid, but now she won't come out of the bedroom and she's afraid of the ceiling.  I have been working with her and making her face her fears, but unless you are Cesar Milan, teaching a dog not to be afraid of invisible people on the ceiling isn't as easy as you think.

The logic behind a new dog was this:  a dog could do in a few days what I could spend months on.  A dog can help Cherry decide what is scary and what isn't.  And, when I found out there was a greyhound puppy available, I pounced. A puppy won't be overly aggressive and frighten Cherry more, but will be fearless and can take control.   I have the time to train a puppy; I have the desire.  She's a puppy but she is a greyhound puppy, not a labrador puppy.  She is mellow.    I want a well-behaved, highly trained dog and the best way is to start when they are pups.  It's been on my bucket list to do agility training with a dog - I may not get there or have the energy for competition but I can still do the fun training.   I love the greyhound breed and you just don't find puppies that often, so I knew it was destiny.  The classes will give me a reason to leave the house and then if I do get sick, at least she'll be well-behaved for my husband.

See?  Logic.

Cherry has responded. They ran greyhound races in the backyard all day the first day. Cherry, being a former professional athlete, won by a mile and Trista kept cheating, cutting through the middle.  If you have never seen greyhounds run, it's a beautiful thing and some day I will post a video for you.

Now that Trista steals Cherry's toys, Cherry is showing interest in them again.   She still hides but it's only been two days and all I have to do is call Trista's name and magically two dogs show up.  I see her more now than I did the past month, so that can't be bad.

I have a slight  problem.  I cannot remember the name Trista.  I think chemo-brain has used up all available names in my head and there is no room for more.  I even call my younger son by the oldest son's name, even though he moved out four years ago.   I can't remember the names of even close friends when I see them (you didn't know that, did you?) and Trista is not sticking.  I'm trying to train her but am calling her Cherry or Puppy.... I can remember Puppy so forgive me if her name ends up being puppy, I sure didn't plan it.  Chemo brain, as it gets worse, makes it nearly impossible to recall things quickly.  Like names and words.  Eventually you get there but it's a struggle with things you are supposed to know.

In the meantime, if you have a suggestion for a dog name that somebody with chemo brain might remember, post it below.  Our family hasn't come up with many suggestions.

Another thing I never, ever do is let dogs get on the furniture.  Ever.
Trista on her first night with me.  Yes,, she is only 4 1/2 months old, she just looks much bigger in that picture.  She is still very much the puppy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stand Up 2 Cancer Television Event

A cancer charity that I support, and the one I highly recommend YOU support as well, is Stand Up 2 Cancer. The reason I support them is they are working solving the problem of cancer using real research and real science.

They are having a telecast on Friday, September 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET and PT). Please mark your calendar for that date, and if you can find any spare charitable dollars, please use them for this event. I have stated that I would donate 10% of what I make in donations off this blog to charity, and my charity this year is Stand Up 2 Cancer. I will be making my donation on Friday, September 7th during the telecast. (And, thank you if you made a donation - the other 90% is my son's college fund.)

Executive producers Gwyneth Paltrow and Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Productions will join Stand Up To Cancer's production team to deliver "a one-of-a-kind show featuring performances from top recording artists, and celebrities from film, television and sports engaging viewers with powerful stories and a moving call-to-action."

This is why it's important to me.  The money donated does not go to pink perfume or "awareness" campaigns. It goes to 8 "dream teams" of scientists, who are working on why cells mutate and what pathways can be used to cure cancer. (Obviously, by the wording, I show I'm not a scientist. My 15 year old son is studying college level biology right now, and I try to help me with questions, and I can't even pronounce the words. "Sigh. Mom, I told you, it's prounounced it's A-lel', not aleelee" (allele)."

Here is a description of what the Breast Cancer Dream team is working on,  "In addition to developing more effective, less toxic medications for the three major breast cancer subtypes, the team is addressing cancer cells’ ability to become resistant to therapies that are initially effective, which is one of the primary obstacles to successful treatment. Understanding resistance opens the door to developing new therapeutic agents to overcome this critical problem."

All of us with metastatic breast cancer understand that. We are given a chemo that works, shrinks our tumors. We get weeks, or months of time where we feel okay, hey the stuff is working!  We can beat the odds!  We feel like we have a shot at seeing our children graduate and we let the house get messy again - and the the next scan shows the drugs have stopped working and the tumors are growing. Our hopes are dashed again - we are going to die after all.  So, your doctor tries a new one, which may, or may not, work. But either way, it won't work for long. We are on the up and down rollercoaster of mets.    Eventually, we run out of options - we have failed on every chemo -  and we die. That is the life of a metastatic cancer patient.

And, that is a problem Stand Up 2 Cancer is trying to solve scientifically, along with those of other cancers. If they solve a problem with one cancer, trust me, it will cross-platform, and help everybody. Herceptin, developed for breast cancer only, is being used for stomach cancer now.  The whole point of Stand Up 2 Cancer is to get working research to the patient - quickly.

To do that, they need dollars.  Your dollars and my dollars.

Below you will find the information on the show, where to find them on facebook and twitter.  Please don't waste another penny with Komen or the Keep-a-Breast Foundation or any other "awareness charity."  Give to solid charities, like ACS and this one,  Stand Up 2 Cancer where your money to good useAnd, watch the show.  It promises to be a great night of entertainment.

8:00 PM ET AND PT / 7:00 PM CT

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Recommendation - The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide & Cookbook

I have had many goals since I quit working, an entire two weeks ago now.  I have opened my zazzle store and try to add a new product each day.  I started the radio/podcast, which is to give people a place to discuss cancer and share experiences.  A few of you know I am fond of the greyhound breed of dog, and I have started proceedings to get a new dog - this time a puppy!  I am working on an ebook for sale, as well as considering writing a newsletter for free.

I am quite worried that everybody will get sick of me, but a girl's gotta stay busy.

You'll notice that nowhere on that list is housecleaning.  Just sayin'.

One of the items on my bucket list is to eat healthy.  Post c-diff, I was on a very restricted diet.  Only white flour, no fiber, no fruit or vegetables, nothing healthy.  During that time, when I was able to eat again,  I got hooked on candy, cupcakes,  more candy and ice cream.   When my bowels recovered, my taste-buds did not.  I have turned into an evil sugar eater - something I never was before.  It's quite strange because I was Ms. Vegetable USA.  Now I've developed a tooth so sweet they sparkle with the sugar embedded in them.  The odd part is I have no appetite at all, which is either due to the cancer or Abraxane, so when I feel like eating, I grab a cookie instead of something healthy.  I am pretty sure I could go days without eating and not even notice, unless there is candy in the room.

You all know how hard it is to eat at work, and I was always so busy, so I didn't.  Now that I'm home, I want to get back to eating healthier.  And, I have the perfect way to do it.

I was given The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Gude & Cookbook to review.

It took me a while to open it and I'm very sorry it did, because I was missing out.  I suppose I had it in my head that this was an "eat right to cure cancer" book but I was wrong, it doesn't purport to cure anything, but it does have a wealth of information about eating right while being treated for cancer.  It has over 150 recipes, and helpfully, they are linked to side effects.  For example, if you are experiencing constipation or dehydration, you can find a recipe that will help with those symptoms.  And, if the recipe contains something that we cancer patients commonly have trouble with, at the bottom are substitutions.

For example, you are experiencing dehydration and constipation, so you may want to eat a Vegetable Tortellini Soup, but if you have a meat aversion, it tells you what substitutions you can make so you will still enjoy it.  I have a lot of food aversions right now and I find that incredibly helpful.

There are menu plans for specific problems.  There is an anti-diarrhea menu plan, a constipation menu plan, foods for anemia, for dry mouth - just about every problem we experience when undergoing cancer treatment, there is a way to eat to help control it.

The beginning of the book describes what can happens to your body on various treatments, such as fatigue and mouth sores, and explains why eating well can combat some of those side effects and give you restorative benefits.  Also included in the book are shopping lists, nutrient information,  foods to avoid, food safety and of course, a bunch of recipes.  Sprinkled throughout the book are "survivor wisdom." which are sayings from other cancer survivors that are oh, too true.

The recipes are not only easy, but delicious.  Some are unique, such as Curry Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich, and others are familiar, such as one-pot macaroni and cheese.  None are so difficult that they can't be made even by a tired cancer patient.  Like me.

Here is a recipe from the book so you can see for yourself.  I am having this one tonight:

Creamy Mashed Potato Casserole

Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
8 cup casserole dish, greased

6 large russet or yellow-fleshed potatoes (about 3 lbs/1.5 kg) (see tip)
4 oz light cream cheese, softened, cubed
3/4 cup hot milk (approx)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 tsp paprika

1.  Peel potatoes and cut into 3 inch (7.5 cm) chunks.  Place in a large saucepan and add salted cold water to cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 20 to 25 minutes or until fork-tender.  Drain well and return to saucepan. Place over low heat and dry, shaking pan, for 1 to 2 minutes.

2.  Press potatoes through a  food mill or ricer, or mash with potato masher or use an electric mixer at low speed until very smooth.  (Do not use a food processor or the potatoes turn to glue.)  Beat in cream cheese and milk until smooth, season with salt and nutmeg to taste.  Spread evenly in prepared casserole dish.

3.  In a small bowl, combine Cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and paprika.  Sprinkle evenly over potatoes.

4.  Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in center is hot to the touch.

Recommended For:
Low appetite
Sore mouth and tongue
Weight gain promotion

Bonus Features:
High protein
Prepare ahead

The type of potatoes used determines how fluffy your mashed potatoes will be.  The starchy russet, or baking, variety produces fluffy mashed potatoes.  Yellow-fleshed potatoes, like Yukon Gold, have a slightly butter taste and make delicious mashed potatoes with a creamier texture.  Regular white potatoes also make a  creamy puree, although not as flavorful.  New potatoes are not suitable for mashing as they don't have the starch content of storage potatoes.

This recipe should be adjusted for your symptoms. Follow the symptom-guide.  
For lactose intolerance:  Replace the milk with a lactose-free beverage, such as lactose-reduced milk or non-dairy milk (e.g.  soy milk or rice milk)
To encourage weight gain: Replace the milk with evaporated milk, half-and-half, cream or table cream. Use full-fat cream cheese rather than light.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving
Calories 299
Fat 7 g
Sodium 218 mg
Carbohydrate 48g
Fiber 4 g
Protein 12 g

I am given books to review frequently, and I am always honest about what I think. I really like this book and think it would be very valuable for any cancer patient, including a post-treatment survivor.  It is jam-packed with understandable information about nutrition for those of us with unique needs, and every recipe looks fantastic.  They are in the perfect range of easy-to-make yet tasty.

I highly recommend this book both as a gift for a cancer patient, or for yourself.

And, if I do start a newsletter, I will send out another recipe from the book!


Monday, July 9, 2012

BlogTalkRadio Today

Just a quick reminder that at 2:00 pm California time, 5:00 Eastern, I will be hosting a talk show. The topic is chemotherapy, Tips, Tricks, and boy does it suck.

Click on this link to find the show.  Just click on the arrow in the player to start it at 2:00.  Tweet it to all your friends and those you know are stuck doing chemo.

Last week there were bugs, and I couldn't see my callers.  I tested it yesterday, corralling all my family to call in, and I could see them so hopefully it was just a strange, one-time thing.  If you call to talk to me, all I can see is your phone number so I'll put you on the air using the last four digits.  If you join the chat room, say "hi" with your number and tell me what you want to talk about and that way I can put you on at the right time.

Speaking of bugs,  I keep changing that photo in the player and it won't stay changed! And, the URL shows up always for the Newly Diagnosed and the show is for anybody with breast cancer, so ignore that until I can fix  it.

I am posting today because some folks didn't seem to be able to find it last week, but don't worry, this will not be a regular blog post and I promise not to pimp the show every week - how boring is that?  If you miss it, no worries:  right on my blog is the podcast of last week's show and as the shows grow, that white space underneath will fill with the topics I've done so you can catch up.

 I don't know if you can listen live by clicking on that link - let me know if you can!

In the future, make sure you "like" me on facebook for updates when the show is live.  Next week's topic will be Metastatic Breast Cancer so I know a lot of people will be interested in that.

This is still an experiment and I may give it up but talking to other cancer patients and helping out newbies is one of the things on my bucket list and this is the way I can do it.  So, tune in!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cancer and School

This morning, I read this story about a Kennedy High student who went from C student to Valedictorian. And, he got accepted into all the Ivies and ended up with a full-ride to Stanford.   And, why does that interest me? Because, his father died of cancer.  The first thing I thought was, "if I die during my son's high school years, will that get him into an Ivy?"

When living with cancer, you don't think of things quite the same way as you used to anymore.  Yeah, we all know my son would rather have his mother alive than go to an elite college, but is this what has to happen for him to get in?  What if I stay alive two more years?  Does having a mother with a terminal illness still help?

He has a 4.6 GPA right now, and has designs on MIT or Harvard or one of the top schools.  I want him to dream big.  But he's never been a poor student - he has always loved studying and school.  He is reading a college biology textbook and memorizing it, this summer.  For fun. (He is so not like me.)   He is in Science Bowl, Speech & Debate, Science Olympiad, Mathlete, etc. etc etc.  

That isn't always enough for these schools, as that article demonstrated.  You have to have an angle.  His school is a college prep school.  They had 150 kids graduate with a 4.6 GPA last year.  It's not rare.  You need a story.

I hope that having a mother with terminal cancer - who is still alive - is angle enough.  I want to see the boy graduate.

My hopefully Ivy bound son and me

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gerbera Daisy

I just completed my first talk show, which you can listen to on the right.  I had a technical glitch - apparently I had seven people waiting to talk to me, but I was not able to see their calls, so I thought there was only one person on the line.  After the show,  I contacted Blog Talk Radio to find out how to fix it and why the glitch happened.  It will be fixed before next week so I hope those of you who called in will call back!  I'm so sorry I didn't get to talk to you, I would have loved it.

I do want to thank Betty from Savannah who carried the show for me; I really appreciate it!

I wasn't exactly funny on the air, except in the sense that when people are terrible at something, it's kind of funny.   But, I am not giving up yet, I will do the show every Tuesday at 2:00 pm CA time through August, and I'll either get better or give up; but I'll give it a go for a while.  It was fun and a new challenge for me.  Probably painful for listeners but that can change.

I spoke about creating items for sale on Zazzle and want to tell you a story about that.

I had a different kind of problem with that creation - see my upside down flower up and to the right?  Well, I don't own the rights to it.  I got this blog template off a free site, and if you will scroll down you will see that I linked back to the template designer as I was asked to do.  I have wanted to use the upside down flower in my zazzle designs because it has become meaningful to me: it is symbolic off the fact that I was drafted into this pink world of survivorship against my will, and I think others see it that way as well.

I tried to contact the original designer to get rights to the photo, but there is nobody there anymore; the website seems dead.  I checked using whois, and the domain is set to expire in January.  I then looked at places like iStockphoto and priced out pink gerbera daisies.  The price was way beyond my means - to buy them to use for products would cost me about $800.00.  I doubt I'll ever make $800.00 in sales, at least not with the royalties you get from zazzle I won't!  I want the zazzle store for a little money, sure, but I know it'll be very little.  The idea is more for the fun of creating things and getting excited if somebody buys something, and also providing cancer patients with ideas for things they need than it is to support myself.  Anything that comes from there, like anything that comes from the donate button, goes straight to my son's college fund.

Community College all the way!

I told some friends my dilemma about the flower, and one came through in a big way.

Check this out:

My friend Toine got a flower and actually took that photo and gave me all rights to it.  Isn't it gorgeous?  There is so much detail.  Please click on it -  you can see every little part of the flower - almost like you can see individual cells, it's that detailed.  He put it on a piece of plexiglass to give it that lovely reflection on the bottom so it's even better than the original.  Best of all, I own the rights to use it how I want.  And, that gives me comfort because that site my template is drawing from expires in January and that photo that I have identified with for two years might go away.  Now I have my own.  (At some point, I will figure out how to get it on my website).

One good turn deserves another, so if you are in need of a talented photographer and you live in New Jersey, or any of the surrounding states, this is the person you must use:

You can see by going to his site that he has the ability to capture more than just a person's shape; he can really get into their personality.  I admire his talent with a camera.  I have always wanted to be able to do that - many years ago, I even owned a fine camera (for its day) and took lessens.  But, no matter what I did, my photos came out blurry and lit wrong and to this day, they still do.  Even with a point and shoot I can never get it right.  It requires a lot of skill to become a photographer, but not only that - to take really great photos requires talent.  Which Toine has in abundance, along with a large dose of kind-hearted spirit.

So, I learned I have a generous friend, I want to share him with any of you who need a photographer, and I now have a flower logo to use.

And, now to annouce the soft opening of my Zazzle Shop.

Breast Cancer?  But Doctor....I hate pink!  

There are only a few items in there so far.  But, there will be more coming daily and not all items will be the same as they are now.  So far, each item is something that I think is really important for a newly diagnosed cancer patient to have.  We need a binder for our records, a whiteboard to jot quick notes, a notebook to keep track of appointments and medications and for chemo brain, just about everything.  And, a tote bag to take items like blankets and iPads to the chemo infusion room each week, and thank you notes for all those people who will be kind to you.  And, you can't have a shop without a mug, can you?  Take a look around and check back regularly as I will be adding things daily.  It takes at last 24 hours for new items to show up so I have some in the pipeline you can't see yet.

And, another glitch - the binder is posted backward.  Nothing quite goes right the first time around, does it?