Monthly Archives: November 2011

Odds & Ends

Well hello! I had no intention of falling off the face of the blog world for almost a week, but I guess that’s what happens when chemotherapy knocks you on your ass. Apart from not blogging or photographing things, I’ve also not been keeping on top of my inbox (sorry to those who e-mailed me), hardly twittering, and only sometimes on Instagram. Netflix however, I’m all over.

I finished off my fifth round of chemo last Wednesday. One “round” of chemo consists of two “treatments” (ie sessions of IV drips in a chair in the chemo room at the hospital). Under my new COPP/ABV regimen, I start a round with the COPP treatment and a week of chemo pills, then after a week I’m back for a session of the ABV treatment. Then I get three weeks off before the whole thing starts again. The COPP drugs aren’t that bad, they just make be feel tired and crummy for an extended period of time. The ABV treatment, the one I got last week, however made me feel like absolute shit for at least 3 days straight. I become completely useless and just wish the days away.

Scored a stretcher in the chemo room last week!

Thankfully, I am starting to come through the other side and am happy to be facing two whole weeks of NO chemo! My next round, the sixth round, will hopefully be my LAST. The only bummer is that the ABV treatment falls on Dec. 21, so I will likely be hating the world come Christmas day. But I will take it if it means the end of this cancer debacle. I’m due for a PET scan once I’m through with chemo, then my treatment “team” will decide if I’m a good candidate for radiation. So far I’ve been told I am not because they would have to radiate over my left breast, which at 25 years of age puts me at a high risk for breast cancer in the future. However, it also depends on how agressive the cancer is at its original site. We shall see! I’m hoping I’ll be able to start working again part-time in the New Year.

Seeing as I’m coming off several days of being highly medicated, and you’re probably coming off a fantastical weekend (or very filling, if you’re American), here are some completely random topics to entertain you (and me) on this Monday:

1. Fellow blogger Abby, from Abby Has Issues, wrote a book. She is hilarious. You can read about how the book came about here. The best part is that proceeds from the book go to the Humane Society. So if you would like to save a kitten whilst being thoroughly entertained, you can buy the book on Amazon.

2. The other night, I was sitting in bed and Buster came up to snuggle on my lap, digging his face into my tummy. I always think of Buster as this poor helpless animal who needs me to survive. But in this moment it dawned on me that if Cesar Millan were to come into my house, he would probably say this dog is totally the boss of me and that Buster is probably the “pack leader” in this relationship. I bet Buster often thinks he is caring for me. And let’s face it, of the two of us, I’m probably the one more in need right now. So I am now convinced that when he waits outside the bathroom door for me it’s not because he misses me, but because he’s looking out for me. He knows I’m sick, and he’s got my back.

3. Speaking of pets here is a funny bit about them:

Stand-up comedy has become one of my most-watched genres since getting sick. Because it makes me laugh! I love that moment where I uncontrollably burst into laughter and for a second, I don’t feel sick at all. No depressing stuff allowed around here. Unless it’s cheesy drama from the 1990s, obviously.

4. I made these biscuits last week and they were really good.

I followed the layering technique and loved how you could just pull them apart. They turned out wonderfully fluffy despite having no buttermilk and being made with whole wheat. The high oven temp really led to them being crispy on the outside but still mega soft on the inside.

Excuse the iPhone photos. I had an issue with my DSLR and was feeling too sick to fix it. Cancer card yo.

5. It’s been a long while since I last did a music post. Here are five fun songs I’ve been listening to and are perfect to jumpstart a Monday (if you’re reading this in e-mail subscription, you may have to click out to view the videos):

Johnny B Rotten by The Monks

Sometimes I Cry by Tricky Woo (this whole album is ridiculously rockin)

To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) by Ryan Adams (off another amazing album)

Fucking Boyfriend by The Bird and the Bee

The Letter by Joe Cocker (not the most “finessed” version of the song, but the video is worth it)

6. Last but not least, today I am going in for my third pulmonary function test in five months. The last time was to help diagnose the lung toxicity caused by chemo. This time will be to determine my lung capacity before I meet with the respirologist next week. I’m nervous! I hate having to blow through those tubes, and this time they’re going to make me get on a treadmill. I’m crossing my fingers that the damage to my lungs will be reversed, I know that my symptoms are already much better with the steroids I’m taking. I reallyreally hope the damage won’t hinder my ability to run when the cancer is gone!

Anyways, that is all she wrote. I should be back more regularly for the next couple of weeks. I’ve got a few recipes to share per usual!


It’s been almost two months since my last “Snapshots” post, and since I’ve been on chemo for six days now, I feel like an easy photo-filled post is due. This is where I open up my iPhone and share the random things I capture over the course of the day. I love when other bloggers do these types of posts because it’s a fun peek into their life. I haven’t done this since I got Buster, so it should come as no surprise that there has been an onslaught of photos featuring a furry orange and white face!

Typical day snuggling with Buster. This is what my days after chemo look like.

This is how Buster often sleeps in my bed when not trying to snuggle. Honest to goodness, this was not set up.

Hanging out, watching Conan.

Hanging out, watching Beverly Hills 90210 (team Brandon, btw)

Buster is still trying to grasp the concept of a doggie bed.

Better…but not quite.

There we go! By the way, that teddy bear is actually Buster’s girlfriend, I’m pretty sure.

It’s not all laying around and sleeping though!

Walks in the woods.

Walks along the river. Moncton always looks so desolate.

Burger outing with the fam!

Burger at the new Relish Moncton location. I got the Simpleton because I’m not allowed cheese or bacon on my current drugs. The beet relish and buns are still awesome though.

Unfortunately, I spend so much time in my pajamas, it seems I am forgetting how to dress.

Cocktail hour in the chemo room (the tape and tube are from my PICC are visible 24/7, it’s weird)

Ice cream and Kindle in the chemo chair. Some of my best blog friends pitched in and bought me a Kindle when I was first hospitalized, one of the best gifts I got!

They serve hospital meals in the chemo room. I don’t eat them anymore. GAG.

Instead I treat myself to take-out. In this case, falafel!

Homemade fish, chips, and coleslaw. I’ve been working on creating the perfect oven fries and I’m pretty close to the final version. I want to have one more go at them just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke until I share it.

Adding orange juice to the egg wash for french toast is really good! Gives it a citrusy twist.

Not all Buster around here. Caught Archie sleeping with one ear open.

One of my favourite shots EVER. Buster looking fancy in his just-groomed bow and sad that Archie won’t play. Archie is sitting with his back to Buster, then turns his head and gives Buster that look.

On the other hand, Buddy the boxer-bullmastiff is the one always bugging Buster to play. But for some reason Buster gets pissed when he tries.

So instead Buster plays with a giant stuffed lobster. Weirdo.

What the screen of death looks like on a Mac. Yup, my harddrive crashed on my four month old MacBook Pro. I have no idea why. It froze one day while I was using it and got this screen when I tried to restart. It’s still under warranty, but I lost everything. I think it’s because I badmouthed Steve Jobs in an earlier blog post. Sorry Steve!

And for kicks – a video I captured on my iPhone last night. Still trying to teach Buster how “fetch.” I apologize for my annoying voice while communicating with my dog. I can’t help it!

I don’t know what’s better – the part where he looks at me and decides to go the other way, or when he comes bounding out from behind he wall. Hahaha.

Finally, Part Three of my radio interview is up on the CBC website. Except this time it features my MOM! Click here to listen to her talk about what it was like for her when I was diagnosed with cancer. Part Four should be posted after noon today.

With that, I am off. Tomorrow is chemo #10 of 12! I’ve got some real blog topics I want to share, but I’ve been feeling too crappy to properly write anything out. Soon, hopefully!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie

I swear, I wasn’t going to post any pumpkin recipes this “season.” Mostly because I think it’s really overrated orange mush that people like to mask the flavour of with more complimentary flavours such as cinnamon and cloves.

We’ve talked about how it’s processed and in a can, right? Well, I’ve already contradicted myself once with an impromptu pumpkin cream cheese waffle posting, and today I’ll share with you why I had pumpkin hanging out in my fridge to begin with. Around these parts you can only get pumpkin in 28oz cans. That’s a lot of orange mush to be creative with.

I promise you, the next two recipes contain no cinnamon or cloves. This is pumpkin done savoury and edible!

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Tamale Pie


  • 1-1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 chipotle chiles, minced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce (your favourite kind, I used plain)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn

For cornbread topping:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp molasses


Brown beef in a large pan with onion, garlic, peppers, sweet potato, and spices. Add in sauce, beans, and corn, and let simmer for 30 mins.

While beef mixture is simmering, mix together the cornbread ingredients. You can separate the dry and wet, but I’m not picky. The pumpkin and juices from the filling usually keeps it from getting too dry from over-mixing anyways.

When the beef is done simmering, pour it into a 9×13 casserole dish and pour cornbread batter overtop. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cornbread clean.

I went for a pumpkin whole wheat cornbread to make it healthier, of course. I figured if there was ever a time to healthify cornbread, it would be when there’s ground beef involved. The hint of molasses and whole wheat not only gave it depth in taste, but colour as well! I also snuck sweet potato in there for extra vegetables, which offset the heat of the chipotle wonderfully. I’m currently not allowed to eat hard cheese, but I didn’t miss it all. Overall, a dish that is definitely worth cracking open a can of orange mush for!

Of course, using only one cup of it, I had some leftovers. I was determined to get meals out of them and not just spiced desserts.

Enter Pumpkin Focaccia. Pronounced foe-caw-chuh (for my friends from the ‘view).

I based my version off of this recipe and it was freakin fantastic. I made the following changes:

  • Left out cheese (again, not allowed, but I really want to try this recipe again with it!)
  • Added 1.5 tbsp of finely chopped fresh rosemary to the dough
  • Topped with roasted pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts

I made it into two small rectangular loaves. One of which my family pretty much inhaled straight out of the oven slathered in butter. The rest I enjoyed with my usual fried eggs and cream cheese in the morning.

I can’t be helped.

These are just some of the highlights of many great dishes from the last three chemo-free weeks. I had chemo #9 of 12 on Wednesday and am back in the chair for #10 next Wednesday. Needless to say, I’ll be dragging my heels and taking a lot more naps for the next little bit. I’ve been trying to teach Buster how to fetch things for me, but uh, he’s an easily distracted pup.

As soon as he brings it to me, he comes in for cuddles and completely forgets about the toy.

Thankfully, he’s a pro at lying around too.

If you have any interest in hearing my speak about what it’s been like living with cancer click here to listen to Part 1 of a radio interview I did. Part 2 should be posted on that website after 12pm Atlantic time today. Also, if you’re in my area, be sure to check out the CBC’s Tree of Hope fundraiser on Nov. 24 to help directly benefit cancer patients like me in Moncton.

Have a great weekend!