I sit exhausted, fingers and hands itchy, dry mouth, finger tips sore but not to sore to type, Sophie at my feet and the sun streaming in the window. It is a bluebird sky as Josh sees so many mornings in Jackson and the leaves are turning lovely hues of yellow, orange, red and according to Zelda, some even turn blue! I’ve had 60 autumns so far in my life, how lucky I am. The crisp air the hint of snow to come and the question popped into my head, what would I be doing today if I did not have Cancer. What a great question.
Would I be out walking the dog, getting ready to teach a class, helping out at the new kitchen of the environmental school, going on an excursion with a friend, a road trip with Cindy, would I be sitting writing on my blog? This is the second time in my life where I walked to the precipice and jumped and each time something pulled me back from finishing the jump. The jump was to a new opportunity where I could fulfill myself, do what I love and maybe even make a bit of money. But each time life stepped in and held something else, something I needed to do, something cajoling me to put off the jump. Since timing in life is everything one might venture the timing was perfect, neither time did I take the opportunity to accept the job, nor apply for the job I guess I could have, but to what end. I was not employed either time and I was able to put my full being and strength into the task in front of me.
It may be a moot point even asking what I might be doing today, for if I believe in fate which I do, this is what I would be doing because I do have Cancer and this is my path. I marvel at women and men who have full-time jobs and manage through chemo treatment. I find their strength and resolve to do it all far beyond my capabilities. I am not taking care of a family, a job, a home, I am just taking care of me, again, how lucky I am. I have a wonderful husband and family and friends who even help me take care of me. I do have Cancer and this is what I am doing today I am surviving.
I have always rooted for the underdog, books, movies, athletics, horse racing, spelling bees, whatever the venue, I want the underdog to win. It is satisfying, cathartic, renewing and reminds us we all can succeed. Life is full of great stories where people beat the odds– so when I sat in the dark cold room filled with video screens I too hoped to beat the odds. A radiologist, my husband and I, dressed only in one of the gross blue print hospital gowns that flap open, sat starring at the mammogram of my right breast. He pointed to a fuzzy round mass and said, “I am 98% sure it is cancer.” I was the underdog and oh how I wanted to be that 2% and beat the odds.
A lump on my breast brought me to my doctor on May 6, 2012. I’ve found many lumps in my breasts in my 59 years, been called back for extra views on mammograms for something suspicious, had ultrasounds, but they have all been negative. This time there was a sense of urgency I’d never heard or felt with all my previous exams. This time my doctor felt the lump and within 10 seconds told me to get dressed, the sense of urgency in her voice was unmistakable, I no longer beat the odds. When she returned to the room she picked up the phone and called the mammography lab to see if they could take me immediately. This sense of urgency scared me to death. Less than 24 hours later I sat in the dark cold room with my odds so bad no gambler in their right mind would bet on me.
This blog is my journey with breast cancer and my recipe for living with it forever. It is partially a self-indulgent endeavor to get things off my chest (a pun on bilateral mastectomy—I will find laughter wherever I can), a journal on to how to be brave, how to ask for help, how to laugh and how to eat. I am a chef my life is food and food will be a huge part of the posts. I have helped many family and friends over the years work through cancer with food, laughter, listening, love and tears.
We with breast cancer are the underdog and when we hear “I am 98% sure it is cancer”, we need to know the underdog wins this time.