November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving one and all

Rik and I enjoyed a mostly quiet but very sunny and cold Thanksgiving Day. After the traditional watching of the Macy's Parade on TV (I always wanted to be a Rockette), I did a little cooking to bring to our friends G & D. We were at their home from about 3:30 in the afternoon until 9:45 at night. That's got to be a marathon festival meal....

Over dinner G noted that everything we were eating was made by hand from scratch. Now that's something to be thankful for!

(* indicates what I brought or made)

Butternut squash and green apple soup with fried sage garnish
Roast turkey with mushroom bread stuffing and gravy (* I made the gravy from G's scratch stock and turkey pan drippings)
Mashed potatoes
Green bean and mushroom casserole with fried onion topping *
Hazelnut-glazed carrots *
Cranberry chutney * and cranberry relish
Apple pie
Pecan pie
Pumpkin pie
Freshly whipped cream
Chocolate bark with walnuts and raisins *

Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was joyous with the warmth of family, friends, or like us, with friends who are family.

November 15, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

Today I am 48 years old. When I was diagnosed with metastatic disease in August of 2002 at age 42, I wasn't sure I would live even one more year. How thankful I am to be here more than five years later, living a (relatively) good life, with stable disease that responds to treatment.

Last night my choir was here for rehearsal and we celebrated two birthdays -- mine and R's, who turns 28 tomorrow. She and I are exactly 20 years and one day apart in age. Before we got down to the singing, we ate from three of my personal food groups:

CHOCOLATE: mini chocolate cakes with molten centers
CHAMPAGNE: Cristallino Cava Rose Brut
WHIPPED CREAM; unsweetened with just a hint of vanilla

(I ate from my fourth food group, POTATO CHIPS, yesterday and didn't share them with anyone, not even Rik. And I even left evidence of my binge in the garbage for him to find.)

My birthday wish is for my cancer continue to be slow-growing and respond well to treatment. And may I live long enough to benefit from a cure for breast cancer!

November 14, 2007

3 month check up

I saw Dr. G today for my three month check up and all appears to be stable. I have been taking tamoxifen since January 2006 with only a few side effects (weight gain and hot flashes). I have the usual aches and pains from bone metastases, but nothing new to report. So I will see him again in another three months.

Dr. G would recommend for women with a family history of breast cancer, that if a woman's mammogram report indicated she had fibro-globular densities, then she should also have a breast MRI.

What does fibro-globular densities mean? That the mammogram view was "cloudy, and you can't see through the clouds without a better telescope." Hence his suggestion for breast MRI.

November 07, 2007

Another death from breast cancer

Last March I traveled to Las Vegas for a retreat for women with metastatic disease sponsored by the Young Survival Coalition. We'vestayed in touch with each other over the ensuing months via an email group, celebrating and commiserating as needed. On Monday I received an email that one of the women had died.

D was in her early 40s with two young sons. Her only desire was to live to dance at her children's weddings...

November 02, 2007

Toasting and Roasting Mom

This is what my sister and I shared about our mother on her 80th birthday:

• When I was about 6 years old, we went downtown to the garment district on a hot August day to try on winter coats because Aunt Ruthie had a connection for a great deal.

• Mom knit yards of kelly green yarn into the most beautiful dress, poncho and beret for Susan to model in her 4th grade fashion show.

• She volunteered to be Cookie Mom for our Girl Scout troupe, and made us line up case after case, sorted by type of cookie, in the empty living room.

• Mom's eyes gleamed when she honked for us to come down to the garage (meaning “Come get the groceries”) and surprised us with Dunky the cocker spaniel.

• Mom ordered a special box for me of supplies and booklets that explained how a girl grew up to become a woman. She wanted me to be knowledgeable but she didn’t quite know how to explain the birds and the bees. When Susan grew up a couple of years later, and Mom asked her if she had any questions, she said "I'll ask Jill!"

• She struggled to get into and out of her wedding dress with us both in anticipation of their 25th anniversary party.

• Mom took me to lunch just before I went to Israel at age 17 and told me that whatever I decided to do with my life, I should pursue my dreams.

• When we were little girls, Susan and I used to play dress-up in Mom’s wedding dress. Mom mailed it to me to see if it fit. It was stuffed into the original cardboard box, with great-great-Aunt Dora’s diamond rings folded inside, and insured for $100 because she didn’t want to call attention to it in the mail.

• When my parents moved into their new apartment after leaving their house in Cincinnati, Mom said she felt like a new bride.

• Susan came home one night when Mom was babysitting, and found her young kids running around, with Bubbie nowhere to be found. They were playing hide and seek, and Mom was hiding under the dining room table!

Here’s to Mom’s resiliance and determination!

Celebrating Mom's 80th birthday

My sister and I planned a wonderful luncheon to celebrate our mother's 80th birthday. Twenty-two of her friends joined us. My niece Dana even took her vocabulary test first thing in the morning so she could leave school early to attend!

We went to a lovely Italian restaurant where we enjoyed Caesar salad (but sadly no anchovies), fish served with a polenta cake and asparagus spears, and tiramisu. There were entree choices, but somehow almost everyone ordered the same dishes.

Susan had also bought bottles of prosecca, the Italian sparkling wine, so we could both toast and roast our mom. Then Mom made a short speech, telling everyone how she knew them. There were friends from her mah jongg and canasta games, from her volunteer work at the temple, and best of all for me, some of her "oldest" girlfriends.

I sat with Z and F, who were my mom's high school girlfriends. They've never been out of touch, even after so many years. Her good friend, the other Z, who my mom knew from our life in Cincinnati, and who now lives nearby, joined us as well.

Z's and F's husbands drove down as well and visited with my dad. They had all been newlyweds together. After the luncheon, we looked at footage they had shot on New Year's Eve 1950. It was a joy to see my parents and these friends I have known all my life as young married couples.