Praise the Lord and Pass the Zucchini Bread

Sometimes it is hard to read old posts on my blog. This zucchini bread recipe is one of those posts. When I wrote it in August of 2014, I had just finished several rounds of intense chemotherapy for my multiple myeloma and was preparing to begin the stem cell transplant process.

I had already been greatly blessed in that my myeloma is very reactive to chemotherapy. However at that time I was still using a walker and confined to sleeping in a hospital bed in my living room, which I had been already been in for almost two years due to a incredible amount of bad pain from all of the compression fractures in my spine and all of the atrophied muscles from being in casts and braces.

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Where I spent almost two years.

Where I spent almost two years of my life.   

Add to that the side effects of the chemo including a lot of nausea and intense bone pain throughout my body from the targeted cancer cells.  I had to be so very careful when I got sick as the very act of vomiting could cause additional bone breakage due to my bones being so brittle and weak from my cancer. Then, too, I had been on very strong steroids for months to help kill off the cancer cells, but as a consequence I had sunk into a rather miserable and defeating depression.

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My husband sleeping on the couch to help me when I got sick in the night.  Then, he would get up and go to work the next day when my helpers came to be with me. 

It was right about that time that I needed to decide if I wanted to do the transplant and take one more round of even stronger chemo, guaranteed to make me really sick,  before the transplant process.  And, I had just been informed that I still had myeloma cells in my bone marrow biopsies.

When I read this old blog post this morning, it amazed me how positive it was knowing how sick and precarious my health and options were at the time I penned it. In fact, during my interview at the University to see if I was eligible for transplant, I actually asked the doctor in charge of accepting me into their program if this procedure was extending my life or my suffering and dying.

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This picture was taken after my last intense round of chemo and while my stem cells were being collected in the machine behind my husband.   And, we are smiling!

I was drowning in pain– emotional, mental and physical–and did not want to pointlessly extend my suffering or the inevitable. I will never forget the doctor, during that long interview, looking me in the eyes and saying, “Patricia, you took the radiation for your thyroid cancer that had already spread to two lymph nodes over 25 years ago and you are still here talking to me today.” To be honest, that was the only part of that long meeting that passed through the clouds of depression and entered my chemo mangled brain.

When I heard those words, I went from “I can’t do this anymore” to “Ok, I will do this for my husband, but I will do this.” I not only decided to do the transplant, but took the stronger round of chemo too.

Sitting up in my body cast watercolor painting. Note how the elbows are firmly on the table. My back was not strong enough to the support the weigh of my own arms.  Then, I would have my husband take me to parks where I would push my walker on hiking trails. These were just a few of the activities I did to get stronger for my transplant. 

Once I make a decision, I stay the course come hell or high water.  I am dependable like that. So, since I had decided to fight on some more, I figured that I was in the same position as one of my favorite Civil War General’s who believed that you should never enter a battle with one hand tied behind your back.  No war has ever been won with half measures or without the grace of God…not even a war with cancer.

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Post transplant with my World War II buddy El Ewert and I sporting matching hairdos. 

This morning as I remembered what my life was like two years ago, the Bible verse, “Where does my strength come from? It comes from the Lord” drifted through my head. There were many times during that summer, fall and winter that God carried me.  For during those dark times, I was given a peace and strength, that is still with me today, that is impossible to explain.  I have felt the grace of God and it is wonderful.

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Current picture of me…cancer free. 

The almighty God must still have a use for me for here I am, on this beautiful summer morning healthy, happy and baking.  Yes, the Lord was my strength through all of that suffering and my husband was my support. This morning free of walker, pain and cancer, I will joyfully give the Lord my praise and thanksgiving and my husband zucchini bread.

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The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Grandmother’s Helen Zucchini Bread

Normally this time of year I would be processing lots of zucchini picked from my garden to put into the freezer to make breads, muffins and cakes during the winter months and for the holidays, but these past two years have been anything but “normal”.

It will be two years ago in November that I started breaking ribs and getting compression fractures in my back from a case of multiple myeloma. Within the first six months, I went from being the very active and able-bodied press secretary to Minnesota’s Secretary of State, grandmother, mother and wife with lots of hobbies and interests to being in a nursing home on heavy pain medication unable to walk or even brush my teeth myself.

During this time of physical, emotional and mental challenge, I have done my best to keep positive and that means keeping busy. Many of my…

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