Many of you know about the ongoing struggle I have been having after being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.  Even before the cancer, I struggled with living a clean eating and healthy lifestyle to cope with the aspects of Systemic Lupus.  Now sandwiched right before the cancer diagnosis was also a a diagnosis of Systemic Scleroderma which now labels me with a “mixed connective tissue disease“.  Oh and by the way none of them have cures.  This makes want to find a way to live even more healthy so I’ll be around for the cures!
Without going into a long story, many years ago after the Systemic Lupus diagnosis when I was in college and after 6 months of taking Progesterone and various other drugs, I went to my Rheumatologist (a fortunate recent referral and a truly great doctor and caring woman after several other doctors who really had no clue) and said I can’t live like this!  The Progesterone had put almost 60 pounds on me, I could no longer play racquetball (something I did 3-4 times a week) or jog (something I did 5-7 times a week after being a cross country runner in high school).
This great and caring doctor sighed with relief and asked me to sit down so we could talk!  Really, she just wanted to chat and chat we did for an hour and a half.  I truly believe that she changed my life forever!
The first thing she did was refuse me a support group – I know that sounds strange, but she truly felt I was better off with my positive attitude working through the steps with guidance.  Step 1 was to change my eating habits.  Remember I was in college, always eating on the run from whatever vending machine was close and diet everything to keep from putting on any more weight.  So, she had me write down my diet for a week and guess what?  When you see it in writing you realize how much all those “a little here” and “a little there” things add up! After that realization was Step 2 – eliminate the “non food” items from my diet.  She qualified these “non food” items as anything that didn’t have a direct receptor in the body.  This included saccharin, aspartame, splenda, anything processed with ingredients the average person can’t pronounce and preserved in a box or a can.  Below is the new food pyramid in an easy to read and follow format.

And here is an easy to follow breakdown!

It is a personal choice, but she also asked me to stay away from pork and shellfish – you know the bottom feeders of the world that will eat anything!  As she put it, garbage in, garbage out via your kidneys and liver!

Step 3 was to get regular exercise, proper rest and meditation to care for my whole being.  Oh and to avoid stress – yeah right in this world.  Sound advice for anyone, healthy or not!

So, the bottom line is that you were given only one body and despite popular belief, it cannot be easily replaced and does require the proper fuel and rest to work properly.  The easiest way is to start with a good diet.


“The difficult part of having cancer isn’t the actual disease; it’s figuring out what to do once you’ve survived. You have to go about living your life after it’s been turned upside down.” ~Corina Morariu

A sense of Irony ~ a trip to the C and Sea

We have a huge family!  And best to my knowledge there has been very little major illness in the immediate folds.  This makes me wonder how it is that my favorite BIL and I are both diagnosed with Cancer with in weeks of each other.  The irony comes with hubby and I deciding to stay on to help with my aunt and be in the right place when I was diagnosed to be treated by one of the best cancer treatment facilities in the world.  I know I’m blessed by the best doctor and team, but even more so to know that now my BIL is here for treatment from his awesome doctors.
While this not a celebration for either of us it was awesome to see our closest family and spend some time together.  We were both free of tests and appointments today and we took our act on the road.  We started in Galveston at Beachtown and walking the beach.

 SIL & Me
SIL, BIL, NEPHEW (yep he’s older than me)
Hubby (brother to SIL) and I
Where we encountered a beach full of Man o’ Wars, but there was something wrong.  None of them had an tentacles that we could find.  So I went on an internet search to see what was up and I found that after strong onshore winds, you can often find beached Portuguese man-of-war with their tentacles stuck in the sand. A closer look will usually reveal a crab beneath the surface winding up the long blue string.
 We also found many mole crab holes with recent digging.
From there we walked the Strand, checked out a few stores and bought the important stuff – thanks so much SIL the apple and fudge are very much appreciated!, had drinks with chips and salsa and visited.
And then we visited the Kemah Boardwalk and walked some more, ate some more, fed some birds, forgot to get someone to take a picture of the 5 of us so we could all be in the same picture, visited some more and laughed a lot.
We stopped to make plane boarding reservations and then to get a serious flat tire fixed.
Then we ended the day at a favorite restaurant (you guessed it) with more food and drink, lots of well wishes and hugs!  Now we pray for positive. half glass full results for us both!  It was my first big day out and I’m exhausted, but in a “I’m so glad we have a loving family” way!


The last several months have been a little stressful for us with all the trips to the hospital, the invasive tests and surgery.  Hubby has been a true prince throughout it ALL!  When I went for the original test before the Big “C” diagnosis, the facility was an hour away and it was a routine test that was going to be followed up by a doctor at a later date so I went by myself.  As with so many things in life, routine turned into something else.  Halfway through the test I was introduced to a new doctor who observed the remainder of the test with a few technical requests to the technician and then he sat me down and proceeded to tell me I had cancer and that my care was being transferred to an oncologist.  I had a mammogram scheduled for an hour later and had to sit and wait for that having heard the worst possible news I could have been given.  I then had to drive an hour home and tell hubby the worst possible news I could.  He took it like a trooper and has been my hero ever since, well even more so than he was before.
Since December 28th I have been a prisoner of my disease.  The best positive advice I have given myself is the I AM NOT MY DISEASE and I will not quit living life.  I still haven’t been released to “normal” life, but as long as someone else drives I can start to get out a bit more.  So, hubby and I are reinstating a ‘date night’ into our life starting with tonight.

I loved getting out more than I will ever be able to describe.  I just about live in flip flops, Levis and comfy t-shirts, but being able to get dressed up, put on some make up every now and then is awesome. My question is, what has happened to the world while I was away?  

We drove to the theater district and parked.  It was almost too easy.  We chose a little romantic Italian restaurant for dinner ~ you know tablecloths and cloth napkins, quiet and subdued lighting type of place where we had a great meal, but sat just across from us was a father and daughter waiting for 3 others in their party.  Daughter was hyper and all over the place, spilling drinks and let’s not forget her flashing roller shoes.  Dad was loudly on his cell phone and ignoring the daughter ~ need I say more?
We then walked to the theater where we sat out front and waited a while, people watching.  I was appalled by the people coming to the theater in ragged clothes that I wouldn’t be seen  in weeding my garden or painting the house.  Does no one take any pride in their appearance anymore?  When the ushers are wearing tuxedos, doesn’t it seem only prudent that you should be wearing something nicer than holey jeans and t-shirts with inappropriate sayings on them?
These are just my observations, but personally I’m sick of casual grunge!  Despite all this date night was a success and has be reinstated in our life to help give up perspective!


Yes, I know that was the title of my last post.  Unfortunately it still fits today, but for new reasons.  As many of you know I was told I had Ovarian cancer and I underwent surgery to remove a large  volleyball sized ovarian tumor as well as many other parts that resided in the abdominal cavity on February 1st.  We truly thought the worst was over as I began my recovery from major abdominal surgery that left me with a 10 inch zipper and zilch for energy!
Unfortunately the pathology came back and while they do believe the cancer was contained within the tumor without spillage, they are now calling it cancer of an unknown primary source because of the tissue type.  Cancer gets very complicated and is “named” based on the primary source of the cancer.  Even a metastasized cancer is always called by the primary cancer source’s name.  For example a man may have prostate cancer and then they find it has spread to the bones.  He doesn’t now have bone cancer, but metastasized prostate cancer.  
There is a reason that they call what doctors do “practicing”.  The bottom line for me is that they are now searching for the “primary” source and are hedging towards a “preventative” round of chemo.  My niece suggested a holistic approach as opposed to the chemo and she can rest assured that is high on my priority list, especially without definitive answers to the contrary!
So, here I am trying to heal from the surgery which isn’t exactly going well, searching for the original cancer source and praying that they don’t need to open me up again (I don’t think I could stand that) or that I will need to go through chemo!   I am not a patient, sit around person to begin with and I’m already chomping at the bit even though my body is resisting my need to get busy again.  So, the moral of this story is listen to your doctors, but BE YOUR best advocate.  Ask questions and if you don’t like the answers ask more questions.  Never hesitate to get 2nd or even 3rd opinions!

A New Beginning… and Lucky

I’ve been struggling with a way to get back into the swing of things here in blogland. You see just 2 months ago today I was struck with those words that we all fear hearing from our doctor. You know,  any phrase that includes the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. For me it was the worst Christmas present imaginable so I persevered and didn’t really let on to most of the family in the beginning – no sense ruining anyone else’s holidays since no further testing could be scheduled until after Christmas.
You truly do go through the 5 stages of grief augmented with periods of disbelief and a lack of comprehension.  It doesn’t matter how well schooled you are or how intelligent you are, those words hit you like a ton of bricks.
Last year when I began my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China, I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote when she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar that I found extremely poignant.
It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still had my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into what was being described as a cantalouped size mass.
Fortunately for me at my well woman exam the nurse practitioner noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound because she feared uterine cancer.
The ultrasound was on the Tuesday after Christmas. The words changed, but stayed the same, cancer was still in the phrase, but now it was ovarian cancer.  To it they added terms like tumor and oncologist.
My brand new doctor (I’d never met him prior to the ultrasound tech calling him into the exam) in a brand new town thought I was in shock because I didn’t cry and react hysterically. He just didn’t know  me well enough to know I was really okay.  But, I’m a fixer, so my next phrase is always, what next?  What next turned out to be a referral to MD Anderson Cancer Center and an oncologist, whom I adore by the way!.  She and her team made it possible for me to stay both positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their Motto is “making cancer history” which struck me as the right positive note for me.
The next 2 weeks and 5 days were a whirlwind of blood draws, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, chemical stress tests, consultations, clearances and…
I underwent surgery on the 1st knowing full well all the fine print, legal jargon and potential pitfalls of this diagnosis.  I also knew that because of the size, I would awake to only a possible pathology.  I awoke to hear things like “self-contained”, “non-invasive cancer” and “surveillance” as well as that the cantaloupe was actually a volleyball with a balloon twist.  While we are still awaiting final pathology I am now at home after a week in the hospital and catering to the whims of a 10 inch zipper through multiple layers of muscle and the needs to get my energy back and regenerate the tissue.
With that, for now, I’ll leave you with this email story that crossed my desk.  True or not, it’s heart warming and endearing and worth the read.  I choose to believe in the bright and positive.

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body  felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.
He had covered her with his love.
Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.
Lucky… He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.
Remember….live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget….the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most Credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.
If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! 
Live simply. 
Love seriously. 
Care deeply. 
Speak kindly. 
Leave the rest to God.
A small request
Dear God, I pray for the cure of cancer.


Last year when I began my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China, I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote after she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar from that I found extremely poignant.
It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still have my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into a cantalouped size mass.
Fortunately for me at my well woman exam the doctor noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound.  That was on the Tuesday after Christmas.
As I write this I’m preparing for the battle of my life, but as you read it I am, God willing, laying in a hospital bed preparing to go home in time to watch the superbowl with hubby and recover from an ovarian cancer tumor reductive surgery.  We won’t yet know the extent of the pathology until sometime next week, but we are prayerful that it was all contained within the tumor itself and that the abdominal surgery recovery is the worst we need to overcome.
It did make me think though about the letter Erma Bombeck wrote entitled, If I had My Life to Live Over and decided to offer up a short piece of my own to ponder.
I would make changes as I’m sure we all would, but they would be small changes – everyday changes.
I would use my favorite fruit infused soap everyday instead of trying to stretch it to last forever.
I would eat more salads, fruits and veggies despite the additional cost.  I eat quite a few now, but more are always better.
I would take a nap when I really want or need one instead of thinking I needed to fill every moment of every day with productive business.
I would take more time to slow down and truly smell the roses, listen to the birds sing and children laugh.  
I would  take more time to help stray animals and lonely elders.

I would forgive more readily and love even more often.

I would strive to make a difference in more than one child.  I know I have tried to live by this quote; A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. I also know I made a difference, thank you Amber for telling me that often enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes. I love you as if you were my own.  But, I know I can do more and more often, my talent is not yet used up.