A recipe for living with cancer.

Posts tagged ‘beer’


I panicked the morning of our trip to Ireland.   I rarely panic before a trip and I  have traveled a lot before my breast cancer.  I don’t love flying, the bumps and jolts and noises the engine makes going through its motions makes me hesitate and listen and worry for a moment.  High pitched whines suddenly change to a low moan.  Did the engine cut out, why does it sound like we are slowing down, was that the landing gear crunching like that, is that normal? Then I remind myself when the plane door shuts I relinquished control to the pilots, flight attendants, the weather, fate and perhaps G-d.  I do hate and panic during turbulence, but most do and when the flight attendants look calm and continue walking the aisles I release my vice grip on the arm of the seat, or Tom’s hand if he is sitting within reach.

I panicked for this trip because of a small card which I did not have.  I am very focused when I travel abroad, medications, ointments, tinctures, trappings, band aids, the right socks, a snack, gum, mints, you would think I was traveling to the depths of the Amazon not Ireland.  I just find when we need something, to have it on hand is so much easier than to try and get it.  Because whatever it is that we need, it is usually 3 AM when we need it.  Have you ever needed an antihistamine or preparation H at 3AM?

The card I was missing was a disclaimer card from the company that makes the skin expanders from my breast surgery –explaining that I have two magnets, one in each breast.  If the metal detectors go off, I get pulled off to the side, i raise my arms and get wanded and I still beep, before they take me into a room and I get strip searched and who knows what else,  what do I do to explain?  Sure lady you have a magnet in each breast. I whip out this “get out of jail free” card and all is well.  The doctors office was “out” of this card and the nurse said she would get more and send me one.  I called to remind her but never received the card.  I meant to call again but got side tracked.

I was dropping Sophie off at the Golden Bone Kennel when a bolt of lightning hit.  The thought just exploded as if a laser shot the idea into my brain.  I don’t have the CARD. Why did this suddenly come to me and what triggered the memory? No clue.  But I immediately panicked.  Throughout breast cancer therapy I have maintained my breasts have not been the focus of my sexuality, I am more of a leg person.  If this upcoming surgery is unsuccessful I have already decided to be flat.  Were it not for Tom I would already be flat, or so I thought.  As I panicked the thoughts racing through my mind were quite telling. What if the sensors go off, what if they wand me and it goes off, will I be taken in a back room, will I have to undress, will they touch me, would they only believe me once they saw the 6-8 inch scars on my breasts? I started to cry.

On this trip I will go through security four times, four separate flights, oh the inhumanity. Tom, ever calm, said don’t worry there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

We get to security and  I went through the revolving door machine, you know the one, stand on the yellow footprints, put your hands up just like this hysterical graphic in front of you…3 seconds, then get out and step aside.  The woman said wait here since the film (showing my age–image) takes a few seconds to develop –then she says I have to pat this spot.  I turn around and there was a yellow square on the icon right above my left breast.  I start to explain, cancer, expanders, magnets and pull my shirt aside and she says, no no I just need to pat this spot. She pats below my collar bone right on the top of my breast. Says its fine and then says, those things don’t usually trigger the machine…. hmmmm you are fine go on.

I momentarily forgot I am one of thousands with different stages of breast cancer therapy who walk through these machines.  Thousands who are worried, upset, angry, depressed and grateful for recovery who may need to stand aside and wait.  We beep, we ping, we stand aside, we wait, we are accustomed to waiting for results.  We hope for the best and to be told we can go on.  I have three more times during this trip to see what happens, will I beep and need to wait.  And there are more trips in my future.  Much like breast cancer I will need to wait to see what happens, but tonight, tonight I get to taste my first real Guinness in Ireland–we’ll worth the wait.

The First Annual Mini Pour, and then there is Strep!

I totally overdid the last two weeks.  In some insane competitive portion of my being I did not like being a slug, all these women who work through chemo, take care of their children and then there is me.  I have nothing to do but sit back and exist through this chemo and there was this little voice inside my head that kept niggling at me: you have no one to take care of but yourself, you don’t work, you should be able to do more, others do more, come on, get up, move, accomplish something –so I did.  Two days after the infusion I was making Tom dinner, he was shocked, straightening the house, baking cupcakes.  I did this for four days and was tired and felt lousy, but I thought: all those women who work through the day, get home and take care of home, then collapse I can do this too.
I stayed at home for a few days while my counts were low, but not for five days like before.  I went out to lunch, I shopped, I did stuff and  I went to bed exhausted but feeling rather satisfied I was able to feel human again in some form.  The kids marveled, Tom was thrilled to have hot meals when he came home from work, all in all not to shabby.  Then came the days when I started to feel better, a bit more energy and that was when I made my big mistake, I decided to have a party.  Yeah, pretty dumb but I wanted to be normal.  Tom was against it, Miriam had to work the day before and day of the party so she couldn’t help as much as usual but I was determined.  I promised I would have people help, bring food, any food that needed to be cooked would be cooked that night by folks attending and everyone would help pitch in to clean up.

The issue was this was not an ordinary party where you decide what to have for dinner buy it make it, serve it and clean up, no this was different.  You see there is a fund-raising event here in Pittsburgh called the Steel City Big Pour-beer tasting, food tasting.  I’ve been twice and its loads of fun and this year I wanted to go with Sam and Cory.  The tickets are almost impossible to get but I REALLY wanted to go, it was the weekend I would feel great and it’s basically a beer tasting of about 15 different brewers locals and international, and food from about 15 local restaurants.  Each beer vendor brings an assortment and you can taste them all.  To get tickets you must get on-line on a specific day and time and hope to get into the queue fast enough to purchase tickets.   I set my phone alarm and was sitting at the computer 10 minutes before start time with the window open ready to go.  I kept clicking in and finally at 12:01 PM got in and was immediately told I was in the queue and would be helped as soon as I was next in line.  After 20 minutes in the queue I was not to hopeful, and at 44 minutes a message popped up saying “sorry we are all sold out”–what a RIPOFF.  Truth be told there are only 500 tickets total so it is really hard to get one and I guess this queue thing is most fair.

I texted Cory and told him what happened and how pissed off I was and he said…for $75 per person WE SHOULD JUST DO OUR OWN. Right I said, we’ll do a MINI POUR and it will be much better.  The rest is history…a mini pour at my house, with 7 or more kinds of beer and all kinds of food in appetizer portions.  Can you see where it totally went out of control?

We had our mini pour Saturday night, it was only seven people so I didn’t get totally crazy and invite 30, but with all the food we had we could have fed thirty!!  I planned, I shopped, I planned, I asked folks to bring beer and food and told them they would be helping cook, Sam was in charge of getting a beer assortment and Ellen offered to come help the day of and Miriam and Sam and the kids would stay overnight so they would clean up and help put stuff away the next day. See I can delegate…ha!

I did not vacuum, I did not go crazy cleaning, I merely straightened up and Ellen helped me with tables, ice chests etc…but it was the food that did me in, shopping, planning, prepping, and I did some cooking.  I went through the list of restaurants supplying tastings and began to develop my “better” list of goodies to go with the beer.  As this post is getting way to long I will just tell you what I had:  antipasto (thank you Ellen), salsa (thank you Judy), cauliflower ceviche on tostada (thank you Cory), homemade sauerkraut, homemade lacto-fermented pickles, fig crostini, chicken ban mi, fish tacos, two kinds of wings, rack of lamb, dry aged steak, homemade chocolate ice cream with baby fingers and cupcakes.  And here is a picture of most of the beers:

I had a blast, I stayed up way longer than usual — I ATE MEAT and it tasted really really good and I paid the price (not on the eating meat part although it was lovely and worth every bite, I am back to being more of a vegetarian than vegan) the next day.  I woke up Sunday morning with a sore throat and swollen glands, went to the Doc and I have Strep.  But you know what, it was worth it.  Family, good friends, good food, good time, what more can one ask for just on any regular day, let alone a day when you have cancer!

This was our first annual Mini Pour.  Next years will be bigger and better.

Thank you friends and thank you family for allowing me to feel normal again, I love you all very much.

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