Monthly Archives: December 2011

On Betrayal Of The Body

Back in August, I wrote a post called “Radically Free.” It came about because I was feeling disillusioned by my healthy lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer.

A lot of people will report they feel betrayed by their bodies when they are diagnosed with an illness. I’m not sure if I would use such a harsh term to describe how I felt, but there’s no denying that it definitely hurt my feelings and ego.

The first thing anyone does when diagnosed with a disease like cancer is ask “why, when, and how?” It just didn’t make sense to me how I could end up with lymphoma. I exercised 5-6 times a week. I followed the food guide recommendations. I didn’t drink that much. Generally, I was a pretty happy person.

I mean sure, I’d had my party hardy days like anyone else my age. I smoked for six years, but hadn’t touched a cigarette in just as long. I cleaned up my act to be a healthier person. But I still ended up really, really unhealthy in a way I never thought could be so possible so soon in my life.

Beginning from the time I was admitted to hospital, I started to doubt what I preached as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. Did any of it really matter? My grandmother eats nothing but white bread and soup with MSG, and she’s 88 years old with no physical health issues.

Time however is a funny thing, and as time has gone on my perception of this has changed.

Cancer, illness, accidents, we can’t control these things. We can do all we want to prevent them, but in the end we don’t get the final say. We just don’t.

Instead, I’ve come to be thankful for the time spent being healthy before my diagnosis. Why? Because it’s made being sick so much easier.

Treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is no walk in the park. There’s a reason why it’s so effective. They weren’t fooling around when they cooked up the cocktail for the 14cm mass in my chest. So while I have indeed been on my ass these past couple days because of treatment, I really do think I am overall handling it okay. And I credit that fully to the good shape my body was in before I started treatment.

I hate to think what treatment would feel like if it weren’t for the healthy eating and exercise habits I’d already established beforehand. I might be weaker. I might be sicker. I might be more susceptible to infection.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m not quite so disillusioned anymore. Perhaps treating my body well won’t ever be able to prevent illness, but I’ll still treat it right if it helps me get through illness stronger. If anything, I’m happy I had the good sense to take care of my body while I could. So when the time came, it could withstand what it needed to in order to live.

Chemo #11 went as well as it could on Wednesday. Buster is feigning chemo fatigue and we’ve been napping lots. My oncologist said he can’t imagine I’d need to do any more chemo after this round, so I’ll be sitting in the treatment chair for what may be the last time in FIVE days! I don’t have my appointment for the PET scan yet, which will show if there’s any active cancer left and decide on the rest of my treatment plan. But you can tell Santa all I want is Zofran for Christmas.

Have a great weekend!

Best Oven Potato Wedges

Friends, after much research, trial, and error, I am happy to finally share with you my method of making the best potato wedges right in your oven.

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You know the kind that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. No deep frying necessary and perfectly paired with a burger, slab of steak, or breaded fish.

No pussyfooting around today. Let’s get to it.

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1. Set your oven to 450F. It’s hot, I know. Bonus points for taking this photo at noon on the nose.

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2. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.

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3. Grab your potatoes. The kind of potato for this method doesn’t really matter, that’s what is so fabulous about this method. Just you know, don’t go sweet potato on me.

For today, I used 8 small/medium potatoes which was about 2.25 lbs on my home scale. Makes enough for about 4 side dish servings.

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I peel my potatoes because of that whole immunosuppressed business, but you can leave the skin on if you like it. I otherwise usually do. Cut into wedges and wash well! If wedges aren’t your thing, this also tastes great for potato roasties (what I consider to be cubes).

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4. By now your water should be at a rolling boil, so put your potatoes in there to parboil for 5 minutes only!!!

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Basically until just fork tender but still too firm to eat as is. You don’t want them cooked all the way through or they just stay mushy and get crumbled in the next step.

5. Drain the potatoes and put into a mixing bowl with:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg white
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • any other spices you like

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I experimented with spices and my favourite by far is infused oil. This particular bruschetta kind has oregano, basil, and garlic in it. I find when you add herbs to potatoes they burn in the oven, but oil flavoured with them won’t! You don’t have to buy fancy stuff either, just put some dried herbs and spices into a small jar of olive oil for a few days.

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6. This part is important: spray your baking pan. The egg whites will make the potatoes stick, even though they’ve been tossed in oil. You need extra grease on the bottom.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, flip potatoes, then bake for another 15 minutes until brown and starting to crisp on the edges. Potatoes don’t burn as quickly as some other vegetables, so I leave them in until the corners start to turn a little black.

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I’ve made these at least 10 times over the past few months and the following steps lead to crispy, pillowy, perfectly cooked oven fries every single time. No deep frying needed.

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Gotta save my calories for the vat of ketchup and mayonnaise these get dipped in.

Off to see my oncologist today to get cleared for what will hopefully be my final round of chemotherapy. And nothing soothes a chemo belly like a tray of fries right out of the oven.

The Next Great Adventure

I feel like even though I am pretty open and honest about this cancer experience, there is one topic that I have both inadvertently and purposely avoided.

Death.

Whoa. I know. Why am I talking about death on a Friday?

Well, for one I haven’t worked in months and have no perception of weekdays anymore. Sheesh.

But please, stick with me on this one.

Death is something I NEVER thought about previously as a healthy twenty-something. Even though I tried my best to be healthy, it wasn’t necessarily to prevent an early death. It was more to make the best of my body while I had it.

Unlike what many people believe, cancer is not a death sentence. When I was told I had cancer, I didn’t automatically think “Well that’s that, my life is over.” Because I still had to wake up the next day and go through the hours. I’ve been waking up every day since. I’m still the same person with the same thoughts and feelings as I was before the cancer thing happened.

With that said however, cancer has made me realize that I will die. Like, really realize. It’s one thing to think of it as this far-off event, it’s another to wonder what it would be like if it happened in a few months. Of all the things I’ve had to wrap my head around since my diagnosis, my imminent death has been one of them.

As my friend Eden recently reminded me – “Life is a terminal illness.” I think that attitude has helped me better understand and make peace with what I am going through. It’s not about stepping down or giving in to death. It’s about recognizing it and living your life despite it. Who cares about when it will happen, today I still woke up and had hours to live.

I am not an overly spiritual or religious person, but I like to think it doesn’t end with death. I find a lot of comfort in these words spoken by the wise old Albus Dumbledore:

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

It doesn’t matter when or how it happens, it is going to happen. When it does I hope I can take it gracefully, and until then I’ll be thankful for every hour spent living.

Hey! That's me! Who needs hair when you've got a wig.

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