Monthly Archives: March 2007


Originally uploaded by l@in.
While I chose to give up eating other forms of meat a few years ago, it was really difficult to give up fish. I love fish and used to work at a mom and pop fish restaurant where I was regularly fed fresh caught fish every shift. About the time I had resolved to really give it up for good and had been doing pretty well with it, I got my cancer diagnosis. Thanks to a Komen Foundation Grant, I had the opportunity to see a nutritionist for free which changed the way I eat. The nutrients in fish, especially the omega-3 fatty acids are something my body really needs. There are other ways to get it, and I was told eat flax meal pretty much every day, and regularly consume both eggs and walnuts in moderation, in addition to having fish at least 3 times a week.

I still kind of feel bad about eating fish, but since it appears to be a health issue, I do it. And I won’t lie – I enjoy it. The other day I had some success with a baked tilapia dish which I thought turned out well enough to share.

Pancho Villa Baked Tilapia

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 4 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
* 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
* 1 lime, juiced
* 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
* 1 lime, thinly sliced
* 1/2 medium onion sliced into long strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat one side of 4 (8×10 inch) pieces of aluminum foil with olive oil.

Center each fillet on a foil square. Spoon a generous amount of diced tomatoes with juices over fish. Add onions and sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro. Position 2 slices of lime on top of each fillet. Close and seal foil packets, and place on a baking tray.

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

I sauteed some zucchini with a little butter, salt, pepper, dill, fresh cilantro and topped it with lemon juice as a side dish. It was also quite yummy.

Incidentally, I’ve signed up to participate in the National Race for the Cure this June. It’s only 6 weeks after my mastectomy, so I’m hoping to run, but will be happy to walk if my plastic surgeon insists on it. I’d be honored if you considered making a donation.



Yesterday when reading the NY Times I noticed that in the top 10 best selling paperbacks in the fiction category, two feature a character who just happens to be a librarian.

“7 – TRUE BELIEVER, by Nicholas Sparks. (Warner, $12.95.) A hip young New Yorker finds love with a beautiful librarian who lives in a North Carolina town.”
“8 – MORNING COMES SOFTLY, by Debbie Macomber. (Avon, $7.99.) A reprint of a romance involving a librarian from Louisiana and a Montana rancher.”

image of red breast irish whiskey

Also Forbes releases it’s list of “must drink Irish whiskeys.” A favorite server at the Irish Lion in Bloomington turned Pete and I on to Red Breast Irish Whiskey, which both of us became rather fond of. mmm….whiskey.

bad blood draw attempt

Originally uploaded by l@in.

you’d think that if a meth addict can manage to inject themself in the neck to get their fix, surely to god a trained professional could manage to get 7ml of blood into one vial without too much trouble, no?

on monday when i went to get the blood drawn for my genetic test, it took 5 tries, and two people to get the necessary biological fluid. it also involved a call to myraid to make sure that i could use a different series of smaller vials to contain the appropriate amount of blood, as the vial provided in the kit was unusable after a heroic attempt to drain blood from a tiny ass vein on the top of my hand, as you see here.

my left forearm is a disaster. i look like a junkie. i’m glad it’s still cold and i’m not living in baltimore anymore.


Originally uploaded by l@in.

My insurance company finally came through and approved genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. All of my doctors have recommended considering a prophylactic mastectomy of the unaffected breast if I test positive for the mutation. Therefore to be able to make a more informed decision, the surgery has been pushed back to mid April.

Ultimately it’s a good thing. The test is about as expensive as an MRI, so I was surprised that it was approved. But now it’s more waiting. More biding my time, waiting for the test results and another big decision to make.

It also seems that I’ll probably be having surgery later in the year for the fibroid issue. It’ll be an outpatient thing with a short recovery period so at least that’s a positive thing.

After never being in the hospital before since I was born, buy the end of this year I will have had 5 surgeries over the period of a year and a half. I’m going to be really happy when I can start taking vacations again instead of surgery breaks.

I’ve always been a bit of a do-er. If I find an organization, a movement, a group of people doing something worthwhile where I think there’s a hole that can be filled, a task that needs done which I’d be good at doing, I’m usually inclined to do just that. If phone calls need to be made, if the floor needs swept, if doors need knocked on, if the organization itself needs a little organization, I’ll do it. I’ve done it. I enjoy filling a niche in that way.

If you’re familiar with the story of the sisters Martha and Mary, you know that when Jesus comes to their home to teach, Martha freaks out making preparations so everyone is comfortable and Mary sits and listens.

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).”

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a Martha. On some level, I feel like cancer is pushing me towards being a Mary. There is something in the act of listening that can be mistaken for passivity or, to be more honest, there is something in the act of being still and quiet that in myself I mistake for passivity. Ultimately I fear that once passive, being active, being a do-er will be a part of myself that I’ve unlearned.

There was a video montage not long ago from the website of a major newspaper which featured snippets of young adults talking about their experience with cancer. The very first clip was of an Asian man who looked to be in his mid-twenties or so. He spoke earnestly and simply that he wondered what he could be if he didn’t have this disease. His face was pained and he looked stricken.

It was this simple idea which has haunted me since the very beginning of when I realized the full scope of what this diagnosis means. I’ll never be comfortable without health insurance. The things that give me pleasure also make me exhausted. I can’t volunteer for anything anymore because I barely have enough energy to both work and go to the doctor. How will this experience limit me? What could I be doing instead of laboring under the weight of my own health condition?

Yesterday Pete posted an entry about a langar in Delhi:

Every Sikh temple throughout the world has a Langar (Punjabi for “free kitchen”). This is not a soup kitchen. It’s not exclusively for the poor, nor exclusively for the Sikh community. Volunteering in the cooking, serving and cleaning process is a form of active spiritual practice for devotees, but the service they provide asks no religious affiliation of its recipients. Our guide’s chorus was, “Man, woman, color, caste, community,” meaning you will be fed here regardless of how you fit into any of those classifications. This spirit of inclusion and equality is reinforced by the kitchen’s adherence to vegetarianism, not because Sikhs are vegetarian, but because others who visit may be, and by serving no meat, they exclude nobody. The Langar receives funding from wealthier members of the community and through small donations at the temple. Every day they serve chapati and lentil dal, supplemented with vegetables when donations come in from local farmers.

This story at first made me feel warm and fuzzy, because I think it’s apparent that this, the practice of a langar, is a good thing. But then I began to think that I would like to do something similar to serve a community in this way, and my thoughts and unhappiness about where I am in my life just made me sad. It took me an hour or two to make the connection that I was placing value only on the preparers and providers of the meal, but not those who are partaking. Which, of course, denies the value in graciousness, in participation, in breaking bread with your neighbors.

So perhaps I will never really be a Mary, but this experience may allow me to find value in simply being alive enough to sit on my couch. To share a meal with my friends. To accept kindness and, if I must, become a more gracious individual.

what to do when you can't get your prescription bottle open

I no longer have hobbies – I have doctor’s appointments.

This week I went to five different doctor’s appointments where discoveries were made such as:

– I have a large fibroid pressing against my spine
– My ovarian cysts have rejoined the party
– I will have an expander placed at the same time as my mastectomy.
– I have calcium, B-6 & B-1 deficiencies. I have been taking supplements for months. They are the only supplements that I take. WTF?
– I need to take vitamin C as my immune system is in the toilet.
– My bone density isn’t what it should be.
– The incision site for my most recent surgery has developed an abscess.
– I have conjunctivitis

I also have a date for surgery: March 21.

All of this news, I’m sure, is just as thrilling to you as it was to me and you, dear reader, are so lucky as to get this parcel of information all at once, whereas I was forced to get just a little bit, day by day, throughout the week.

My primary care physician (whom I’ve seen 2x in the past seven days – he says hello.) does all of these crazy blood tests pretty much every time you go there which used to seem a little excessive to me, however I’m now really happy that I know what my blood levels are.

So now I’m on antibiotics for the abscess, a different set of antibiotics for the conjunctivitis, and the usual round of vitamins and tamoxifen. Taking regular drugs like this had me a little concerned about my liver, as I do like to give it some exercise. Thanks to my primary care physician’s fastidiousness I know that my liver is in tip top shape. Thank god something is.

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