A recipe for living with cancer.

Archive for January, 2013

Not so Low Fat Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


I needed a chocolate fix other than a chunk of chocolate, I needed a cookie!  I found this great Low Fat Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe somewhere, on-line, in a book, don’t remember.  When right out of the oven they were fudgie and soft.  I left them out overnight and they became hard and dry (doh).  I made them again but added a bit more fat.  Here is the recipe as I changed it since I was using up bits and pieces in the frig…one egg, two ends of sticks of smart balance, and used a lot more chocolate “chips” than suggested in the original recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies      350 for 8-10 minutes

Prep time: 20 minutes                                                                            

Cook time: 10 minutes per trayMakes about 30 2″ cookies

6 T smart balance (original recipe called for 4 T)

scant 1/2 cup sugar –about 7 T (original recipe  1/2 cup)

scant 1/2 cup  light brown sugar (original recipe 1/2 cup of dark brown)

1 whole egg (original recipe 2 egg whites)

1/2 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (can use 1/2 whole wheat or oat or spelt etc)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combination of white chocolate, dark chocolate and bittersweet, original recipe 1/4 cup chips–no way enough chocolate lol)

Combine smart balance and sugars in bowl of mixer and blend until smooth; add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Add dry ingredients, mix well.  Add chips.  Place  1 ” rounded spoonfuls on greased sheet pan (or parchment).  Bake 8-10 minutes until still soft to touch.  Cool on tray 1-2 minutes, then place on rack to cool completely.  Store in airtight container or freeze.


The original recipe worked just fine (except not enough chips), and had I not left them out they probably would have been good and soft.  As I mentioned, this recipe was using up bits and pieces of stuff left in frig, and they came out REALLY fine!

Try both!


Now Here is a Bed Side Table!


Tylenol, hand cream, tums, lip gloss, spirometer (don’t really need it) and my iPad.  Now that is a better bed side table!

I Wish these Docs would TALK TO EACH OTHER

After my third doctor’s appointment in two days…I wish they would talk to each other. Breast surgeon should talk to oncologist should talk to the plastic surgeon to the radiologist.

Here is the story:
Breast surgeon does sentinel node biopsy, one node has cancer. She says I will need radiation therapy. She tells/indicates this in notes and plastic surgeon suggests based on this information to postpone reconstruction, put in expanders and will do reconstruction 6+ months after radiation treatment has healed. Better outcome all the way around.

Tom wanted to wait until we talked to oncologist for interpretation of node biopsy information before surgery… two scheduled appointments cancelled and none available until after surgery.
Surgery done and appointment with oncologist on the 22nd, and the radiologist the first of February.

Today met with oncologist, he said based on the node biopsy, he would go either way with getting radiation He’s fine if I don’t do radiation therapy, and fine if I decide to. I should talk to radiologist, then decide. Uh huh, I can decide. He gave us stats and studies and it looks similar either way for reoccurrence.

Yes, you guessed it, I could have had the reconstruction surgery two weeks ago and been finished.
I am not saying I am 100% certain I am not going to have radiation, i will wait to see the doc and discuss the decision with Tom and the oncologist; but it is an option I should have been able to chose before surgery.

My guess is the radiologist will suggest radiation, we will see. But I wish these docs would talk to each other!


Audience with the Queen


Had a wonderful visit and lunch with Ellen and Alice today and it was amazing to catch up. Thanks ladies for the delightful company reminding me I do have a brain and can contribute.

I become so immersed in the minutia of the disease and the pain, recovery and next step, I forget there is life outside my bubble. Bubble though it may be it is all consuming and does take effort to deal with everything thrown at you. As I’ve said before I envy those able to work through this therapy and think of them as true heros.

My niece was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I know she too will rise from the ashes of despair and spread her wings to succeed at the battle she faces. I expect she will continue to work at her job and I know she will be one of my heros. To those working through, newly diagnosed and mostly to my dear sweet niece I send thoughts, prayers and love. Support is there, grab it with both hands every time you need it.

And when you feel better or just need a jump start from family or friends…call them and ask them to come over…they are being summoned to an audience with the Queen. Long live the Queen!


What is on Your Nightstand?


What’s next to your bed on your nightstand? A book, box of tissues, hand cream, phone charger cord, iPad, lamp, a pad and pen to record your dreams and brilliant ideas are a few of what one might find on many.

In this photo you can see what is currently on mine.
Can’t wait until it is empty!!!

Gat Wal Soon!


The first day out of surgery Miriam shows up with cards from the kids.  This Zelda wrote completely on her own without asking for any help.  Worthy of framing!!

The story I mentioned about IV’s…In the old days when Tom went to Medical School, medical students were thrown in to the fray and learned how to do everything starting year two (correct me if I am wrong honey).  They practiced giving shots, IV’s, all the stuff necessary to take care of a patient just in case you were the only Doctor available on Gilligan’s Island.  The Professor and Maryanne were good, but a fourth year medical student could have ministered to all of their needs, back in the day.  Today’s students are a different breed entirely, not given as many opportunities because of specialists, nurse specialists, PAs, nurses and IV teams!  To be the first guinea pig on which a newly minted medical student tries to put in an IV, not where you want to be.  However, Presby, Montefiore, Magee, all teaching hospitals and one of the benefits is the talent it attracts, but also the ability for new students, interns, etc. to learn.  Someone has to be your first.

When I went in for the sentinel node biopsy there was a medical student with the anesthesiologist.  He asked if the medical student could put in my IV and I said sure, they have to learn and I should help just as everyone else should.  Keep in mind I still have 8 IV treatments to go and need to not blow out any veins or lose possible sites for an IV or they would need to put in a port.  I don’t care who does that, its something I do not want to have!

Tom jumped in and said, NO WAY, she needs to keep all of her veins in tact.  Then he asked how many the medical student had done…this would be his first.  Tom turned to the medical student and said, “sorry, she needs all her veins for chemo and we can’t afford to blow one.”  The anesthesiologist, I felt almost begrudgingly, put in the IV.

Comes pre op for my mastectomy and in walks a young man and introduces himself as a nurse anesthesiology student and he is here to put in my IV.  I said, sorry you can’t put it in.  The pre op nurse comes over immediately looking very upset and says, “oh dear, you must have an IV to do the surgery.”  I said, “I know that but HE can’t put it in get me someone else!”  I thought I was so smart.

Tom jumped in once again, “no Barb he can do it he’s not a medical student he is a nurse anesthesiology student and has to be an RN before he can do this.” Man I thought I had this all down!

I asked how many he’d done…he said 40 -50 as a student, but he’d  been a nurse for a while. He said,”I’ll make a deal with you, I get one shot and if I can’t do it I’ll have someone else come in and do it.”  He did a fine job.  But medicine is certainly confusing.

And one wonders why Obamacare is 900 pages and complicated, you need a playbook for everything, setting up surgery, morning of, letting the patients know, pre op, surgery, post op, floor care, nurses, aids, dietary, it’s remarkable.  When I get the bill I am astounded by the cost- I/we must not forget everything that had to happen to get me to surgery, and successfully through surgery and the number of people who touched me literally and figuratively. Lets not even consider all that has transpired to get me to this point.

All the people who I interacted with in the 24-48 hours surrounding my mastectomy:

Scheduling/coordinating surgery: 2 people; morning of surgery: 8 people; surgery I can only guess: 10-12 people; recovery and transport to room: 4 : in the room: nurses, residents, interns, medical students, post doc and aides: 16 that I saw, this does not count anyone behind the scenes in the pharmacy, kitchen, housekeeping, pathology,etc. Discharge and transport: 2.  In 16 1/2 hours  42 people took care of me and those are only the ones I remember.  Those 42 people took me safely through this surgery and one more step to survive breast cancer.  Sure medicine is messed up financially and could use some reworking, but 42 people…whatever the cost it is worth every penny.

Thank you to each and everyone who helped me and also to those I did not see who I know were essential to the entire process.

The IV Pole Dance

I hope everyone’s New Year has started off well and 2013 is a great year filled with hope and joy. So far I cannot complain.

I have been absent from this page because I was doing well and feeling closer to my old self than I have since last May.  I finished chemo November 15th, had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with Miriam and family, has a whirlwind cookie weekend with nephews, great-niece and brother-in-law where –doing the family tradition proud — we made 3000 cookies.  Spent the holidays with family and friends and ended the old year and started the new with family in Florida.

Getting away before my surgery was wonderful, as Tom said it would be.  He really needed the rest and I needed to have a big diversion from thinking and worrying about the surgery.  We came back Saturday afternoon and I only spent Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday consumed with thoughts about the surgery.  Concerns included: survival, reaction to anesthesia, effects of having a tube down in my throat and lungs, who would put in my IV (I have become somewhat of an aficionado of the good ones and the not so good ones-remind me sometime to tell you about the cute student nurse anesthetist who I allowed to put in my IV) and my feelings about waking up without breasts, how bad would it feel, the results of the biopsy of the tissue and the next phase radiation.

I made it through and woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, an elephant was sitting on my chest and my bodily functions had forgotten how to work.  Anesthesia puts EVERYTHING to sleep including peeing and swallowing.  In the recovery room you are swaddled in blankets, have a nurse hovering chatting softly telling you how great you are doing, giving you ice chips and taking care of all your needs.  Then you go to your room, are asked a million questions you have answered a million times before and are handed a pain button, a nurses station button and told to call if you need anything, and are alone.  Now what?  Luckily you have so much in your system you fall asleep until the next person wanders in.

People wander in and out introducing themselves, checking your IV, wondering if there is anything you need.  I can barely think straight, how can I assess what I need!  Then the urge to pee strikes and I push the nurses station call button, beep, pause…………………………(it seemed endless) “yes, nurses station, how can I help you?”  “I need help getting up to the bathroom please.” “I’ll let your nurse know.”

After what seemed like forever, again I feel asleep so who knows, the nurse came in to help me with the new dance I had to learn.  This is called the IV Pole Dance.  Bet you didn’t think a bilateral mastectomy involved learning a new dance, ah ha!  Step one of the dance:  Get out of bed, whoops wait that really hurts to try to get up and I can’t use my arms, so maneuver legs off bed, use those abs you’ve been working on for four years in Pilates!  Step two: raise the head of the bed all the way up to give you a head start.  Step three: stand up (try!).  Step four: grab the IV Pole (which the nurse has unplugged, unwound the pain button from the side of the bed.  Step five:  walk and push the IV Pole into the bathroom.  Step six:  do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about so you don’t tangle the IV lines.  Step seven: sit and stream (ha, I’ve never had to think about peeing so hard in my life LOL!).   Step eight:  do it all in reverse.

And that’s what its all about!!

Need to nap (I do this really well now) so I will write more later.


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