Re-learning food

So today I go into the grocery store to buy lunch and dinner. Lately I’ve been ‘popping in’, which is the least economical way to grocery shop, but it’s because I’d like to make a change in our diet and have almost no idea how to start. At home on my table (we don’t have a kitchen table, dining table, end table – just a table) are some cookbooks that focus on healthy eating and a paperback entitled, Anti Cancer.  They are calling out to me: “Eat Healthy, Eat WAY Less Meat, Eat Broccoli!” and I don’t know how to answer back. It’s not in my cooking repertoire.

Right – back on track, so I go into the grocery store today looking for a healthy meal. What’s a healthy meal? I don’t know, something that involves watercress, broccoli, cauliflower or kale and something that doesn’t involve gluten (for some), sugar, preservatives, trans-fats, phosphoresces etc.

Okay. So I go into the grocery store looking to buy some food. And as I get to the dairy section I recall that Mario recently dropped off some Mexican hot chocolate that is grade-A tempting to make. Therefore, I’ll need milk. But not just any milk, ohhh no. Not anymore. According to this book, Anti Cancer, if you’re going to have milk it needs to be organic and grass fed, which balances the Omega-3 and Omega-6 somethings. And, preferably, in a glass container.

Well Waitrose is good, but they’re not that good. All the milk is in plastic.

Strike one.

Next up – I look at the organic milk, which is promising. Organic equals good, right?


Ah! I don’t know. Because new questions are now forming in my mind: what do these cows eat? Do they get the proper nutrients? Do they eat organic corn, or organic grass? I start to doubt the organic milk. Strike two.

Therefore I turn to the label. Oh copyrighting, you are wonderful, and there is a small blurb about how Dutchie Organic milk adheres to the standards of So-and-So, but no mention about being grass-fed. Strike Three. I put down the milk. Maybe we’ll make soya-milk hot chocolate instead.

My point: A trip to the grocer’s is no long a trip to the grocer’s. It’s a freaking obstacle course of questions and confusion.

BUT this is how I look at things. At work we just switched to Windows Seven. It’s my guess that workplaces across the country are switching to Windows Seven – nice layout, pretty pictures, handy tools – so perhaps you can relate? Anyhow, the computer receives its upgrade and suddenly everything appears different. All the old programs are there, nothing has changed in regards to content, but my thoughtless everyday interaction suddenly dosn’t work. Once again, like the grocery store, I need to start thinking.

When I think, my brain grows new muscles and in time that behaviour becomes second-hand – this is inevitable (thank goodness!), and makes things go back to their quick, thoughtless, and wonderful ways. Sooner than later trips to the grocery store will not take fifteen minutes for a carton of milk because I’ll know what to evaluate and how to proceed. No more run on tangents about the books on my table, the lessons I’m learning, the food for the cows. I’ll know. I’ll recognize. I’ll be healthy with ease.

And those are good things.

Chemotherapy is OVER

DONE! WOOHOOO! AHHHH! YEAH BABY! YES YES YES! OKKKKAY! And a big thumbs up! Ahhh – no cause for another infamous swearing streak, today is only for happy words. HAPPY! JOY! RELIEF! RELEASE!Mom and I went in for chemo today. The hospital called our house at 7.30 am inquring whether we’d like to push our appoitment forward. Seven thirty felt a bit too early, so we arranged it for sometime before 11. “Any time before 11.”

So, at about 10 am we rolled into the deluxe chemo clinic. Again, things went well. That is a pattern I’m glad to have maintained during the paxlitaxel. The nurses seemed in a fine mood (but they would, as of the 25th they’ll have a 4 day weekend), one was even dressed in red with an elf hat. Very festive.

Chemotherapy took two and half hours, pretty normal. Afterwards the nurse removed my picc line. Let me tell you – removing a picc line is no big deal. Inserting the thing is a procedure (needles, x-rays, heart a pounding – though worth every second) so comparatively this was a walk in the park. Here is what they do: a heat pack is placed on the arm to ‘relax the vein’, the picc bandage is removed, and then the nurse gently pulls the line centimetre by centimetre till out, after which she presses down with gauze for a few minutes so the hole seals and no air can enter my body. Actually, I only realized half way through that she was pulling the tube from my vein. It was hardly noticeable. Why can’t all procedures be like that?

After my arm was released, we packed up the standards (oranges, pretzels, sweater) and GOT OUTTA THERE. Eighty sixed it – outtie five thousand – see you later alligator – hasta la vista – let’s blow this pop stand – I’m gone! High fives for everyone.

At the house Mom and Dad had a surprise gold star waiting for me. It’s a helium balloon in the shape of a star and is currently floating beside their bed. Pretty clever. Also there were lovely gifts from a few friends, and that was a wonderful surprise too.

Now I’m in the kitchen. Daniel and JP dragged the mattress upstairs so I could sleep yet still hang out. I’d tried sitting in a chair before but ended up sliding my tired ass onto the ground for a nap. This, clearly, is better. Mom just finished making red onion preserve and Daniel is sterilizing some jars. There’s festive music in the background and I’m sitting (sleeping) pretty. Lovely.

Sixteen down and no more to go. Over. Good bye Chemotherapy. Let’s never meet again. Never.

Next up is a vacation, followed by radiotherapy. After that it’s all about reclaiming my life. We’re starting now, which is a great reason for my being here. Marcelle is making sure I eat properly, Tony is treating me, and JP is putting me through a chemo-recovery routine.

If Zsolt were here it’d be absolutely perfect.

About 15 treatments ago I looked at the chemo schedule and thought, ‘how can we get through this?’ Talk about your obstacles; treatments felt like an uphill battle. But look where we’ve gotten – look at the view from the top of this mountain. Big goals were set (are set), and afterwards life became about the baby steps. One week at a time and you can survive. Survive to thrive. This next part (after the radiotherapy) is all about getting better.

I’m so thankful for everyone’s support. Thank you thank you thank you. Your thoughts, prayers, words, and food have been wonderful.

Right – time to lay down. Someone break out that cake! WOHOO!

Night before Chemo

Thanks to the writer of The Night Before Christmas, which my Dad used read me and is a wonderful story. I’ve totally ripped it off, but all in the spirit of good fun. There are many original lines within this version, and they are – of course – the most beautiful.

Tomorrow is my very last chemotherapy. WoHOOO!

The Night Before Chemo

Twas the night before chemo and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

The picc line was wrapped on my arm with great care

In hopes that a nurse would soon make it bare

My parents  were nestled all snug in their bed

As wheat-free cookies danced in their head

And me in my pyjamas, bald head in a cap

All settled and cozy for a long winter’s nap

When out on the lawn arose such a clatter

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter

Away to the window I moved in a flash

Tore open the shutters  and threw up the sash

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow

Shone like the hospital scrubbed to a glow

When what to my wandering eye should appear

But a glimpse of the future, now approaching so near

With a sack full of hope, packed full and so thick

I knew in a moment it must be St Nick

More rapid than eagles his courses they came

And he whistled and waved and called me by name

“Now Catherine, now girl! Now don’t give up fighting.

Life is a changing and that’s right exciting!

To the end of tomorrow, to the end of the year

And into the future, you’ll live with no fear!”

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf

And I laughed  when I saw him, in spite of myself

A wink  of his eye  and a twist of  his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread

“Your chemo is coming and nearly is done.

Life is  now waiting and it’s promised good fun.

Let Christmas release you from this long test

As the new year Catherine, holds only the best.”

He sprang to his sleigh, to his deer gave a whistle

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle

But I heard him exclaim , as he flew high out of sight

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

And good night to you – I’m up way too late considering it’s chemo tomorrow!