kids_lake

“I’ll have the wild blueberry please.”

“Your lunch looks so heavy this morning! Did you pack some for me?”

“Sam I forgot to bring your socks again, I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what it means. I’m scared.”

“It’s likely metastatic.”

 

Lines from recent conversations. Lines from different moments on different days, all of which brought me to tears.

I debated whether to say anything online. This place is usually filled with happy self-deprecation and a deep love for local food. But when you fall apart ordering a blueberry donut, it’s time to admit that life has thrown you one of its wildly unpredictable curveballs.

I called a friend to tell her the news.

“You should say something.”

Openness is both my strength and my weakness. Anyone with a pair of ears has heard about the times when I’ve burnt my food, failed a test, or had too much to drink.

I admit to my faults, and there are many. But I don’t like to tell stories that aren’t remotely funny. They stay deep, dark and buried until the skies are once again clear. When I can talk about them in the past tense. Make light of the situation.

“Remember the time when I walked to the hospital with a cockroach in my shoe? That was funny.”

Health issues – present tense – are never funny.

Cancer isn’t funny.

Particularly when it shows up 14 years after it went into remission.

Too much has happened since then. A husband. An apartment. A dog. Three beautiful kids. A lake house.

It seems unfair. But what is unfair?

Is it fair when another person gets sick? Your co-worker’s child? Your friend’s mother? Your brother? Your sister?

Cancer is a numbers game. There are things that you can do to better or worsen your odds, but in the end, it strikes randomly, and has nothing to do with fairness. It has everything to do with bad luck.

So you try to be upbeat.

You distract yourself. You work. You take the kids to school and drop them off at tennis.

You listen to the conversations happening around you. “Sophie isn’t being challenged. You’d think that after all of these lessons she’d know how to hold a racquet.”

You try hard to forget the news that you were delivered. That more likely than not, you have stage IV melanoma.

I’ve been writing for two years about what life is like on the other side of cancer. It’s full of healthy food, birthday cakes, love, frustration and joy.

It would be inauthentic for me to disappear into thin air, or to provide vague information. “Checking out with some health issues guys, see you in a few weeks.”

I wanted to finish telling the story about that incredible trip through New Mexico with my Mum.

And now I’m giving myself permission to rest. To focus on my health and spend quality time with my family.

Tomorrow I’m going to the hospital for surgery and I look forward to hearing these words when I wake up: “We removed it, follow-up treatment is…, your prognosis is good.”

There’s no reason to believe that I’ll hear otherwise. My doctors have told me that I’m going to be OK. I believe that I’m going to be OK. After a week that involved tearful phone calls, depression and isolation, a strange thing happened. I started to take pleasure in old routines – making myself a nice meal, taking the kids to the museum, reading a book at night. I wish that I could say that I willed myself to this place, but it happened organically. And although I’m anticipating bumps in the road ahead, I know that I have the mental strength to get myself through this challenge.

I promise to update this page as soon as I have my energy back. And I look forward to returning with great news. There is so much good coming our way – another summer at the lake, boxes of CSA vegetables from the Hudson Valley, a recently-planted herb garden that’s already in full bloom. Summer camp for the kids, swim team, trips to the neighboring blueberry farm.

Life is happening around every corner.

Whatever is thrown my way, I’m ready for it.

—————————————————————————————

UPDATE

It’s been a week since my surgery and recovery, although slow, is going well. As much as we’d hoped that it wasn’t cancer, here we are, stage IV melanoma. Treatment is still undecided, but we’ll learn more in the coming weeks.

I’m in good spirits though. Food has once again become my beacon. It’s my comfort blanket, my shield. There’s “healthy eating”, the kind of eating that I’ve embraced for the past 14 years: joyful eating, everything from scratch, wholesome ingredients, mountains of vegetables, nothing processed.

And then we have its reclusive, tough, and oh-so empowering cousin: “HEALTHY EATING” – no white flour, no sugar, no red meat, no dairy, no regrets.

I don’t look at my list of antiangiogenic foods and think about restrictions. I look at this list and see 150+ ways to beat cancer.

Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

So I’m gearing up for battle; building my arsenal with weapons such as blackberries, ginger, whole grains and leafy greens.

If you’d like to see the TED talk that inspired this dietary shift, you can find the link here.

For now, you can picture me exactly where I am most days: on the couch, Lauren’s “High School Musical” blanket keeping me warm; Jackson on his back by my side, paws in the air; bowl of kale salad in my lap; ginger tea at arm’s length; kids in costume, making a mess, performing a show…surrounding myself with every inspirational anti-cancer book written since the beginning of time.

There are worse places to be in life.

See you guys back here soon.

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vegankitchen 152

It’s no secret that I’m a little in awe of the vegan lifestyle. I’m in love with the founding principle: that animals are left unharmed and allowed to live as freely as we do. And of course the numerous health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are hard to ignore.

I do feel though, that if I gave up meat, dairy and other animal-based products, I’d be taming my passion for cooking and food. Sure, I can get excited about vegetables. As excited as I do about high quality bacon or a well-marbled steak. But vegetables have always been a part of the equation, not the full equation itself.

That being said, I’ve always wanted to give vegan eating a test run, and after a month and a half of gluttinous eating  – the turkey, stuffing, egg nog, fruitcake, ham and bread pudding extravaganza that we call the holidays – January is the month to do it.

After all, don’t we all love a fresh start in January? A cleansing of the system, a New Year’s resolution to eat a healthier diet, with more whole grains and plenty of vegetables?

My arteries need a rest from my holiday binge. They’re panting at the finish line. Well done friends, you kept me alive for 60 straight days while I shellacked your surface with LDL cholesterol. Now is your time for reward. I give you vegetables, and lots of them.

Starting on Wednesday (Jan 1) I’m going to kick off month of healthy eating. For 31 days I’m going to eat a vegan diet to see whether eating this way feels like a sacrifice or a triumph.

I’m guessing a little of both.

And I’ve been preparing. I’ve been reading through some of my favorite vegetarian and healthy living cookbooks, including the latest from The Moosewood: Restaurant Favorites, classics like Chez Panisse Vegetables, and more recent additions from vegetarian guru Yotam Ottolenghi as well as Sarah and Hugh Forte, the husband and wife team behind The Sprouted Kitchen.

I’ve also been following some great online resources for vegan receipes, including:

And I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration that I get from one of my favorite people on Instagram, Amber (RawVeganBlonde) who blows me away on a regular basis with what can only be described as fruit and vegetable art.

So despite preparations to give up some of my favorite foods for a month, excitement has been building, I’ve been tagging recipes and making notes.

I’ve also been updating my Pinterest boards to catalog my growing collection of vegan and health-focused recipes, which you can easily follow by clicking on the links below.

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