Tag Archives: Multiple Myeloma

Living With Cancer: I Cried Yesterday.

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Since last November the proteins in my blood that can indicate Multiple Myeloma in my bone marrow, that have been gone for several years, reappeared.  I have had them tested for months every six weeks.  Then, I got a three-month testing reprieve this spring, which ended last week.

The little rascals increased slightly again.

So, when I saw my oncologist yesterday we had a long talk and I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time…I had a good cry.

I did not cry, because my Multiple Myeloma may be creeping back into my bone marrow.

I did not cry, because I need to have a bone marrow biopsy next Wednesday.  For those of you who have never had the privilege, they are a real treat!

I did not cry, because getting this type of cancer is just bad luck. Nothing I ate, did or stressed about had anything to do with this diagnoses.

I did not cry, because I am depressed.  I am not.  I have known since my original diagnosis five years ago that Myeloma is not curable and always returns.  While, I don’t like this, and do not have too, it was rather expected to happen some day. Besides my food and bee sting allergies are much more dangerous anyway.

I did not cry, because I will never be disease-free or able to lift a grandchild, work, wear pretty dresses or high heels, lift my saxophone, ride horse, mow the lawn, dig in the dirt, bike, swim, run, or walk off-trail in a woods without back pain again.

I did not cry, because cancer drugs are so expensive the thought makes me seasick.

Nope those things would not make me cry.

I cried, because I really want knock the mean people of this world who blissfully go about their self-absorbed orderly lives mentally, emotional and physically abusing others upside the head with my cane.

Yes, I cried, because people are mean!

People are mean by commission and omission.   Truth has been castrated and humiliation elevated to a moral virtue. Shame extinct, and vulgarity and violence epidemic.

I cried, because people are so busy looking for something to complain about, they don’t count the blessings in their lives.  For instance, you are not me!  Or, any of the precious people sitting in the infusion room with me.  Infusion rooms filled to the brim with pleasant, patient and peaceful people.  No politics here!  Priorities!

I cried, because too many people have become their own gods.  Their own ideas and self-importance supersede consideration of anyone or anything.  We have become an deaf society of busybodies.  Our motto is, “everyone is stupid, but me.”

Then, too, I cried, because I’m bored.  Sometimes, I feel buried alive in this house.  I miss working.  Miss serving others.  Miss making a difference in people’s lives.  Miss being in a position to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  I miss me.

I cried, because I could. My doctor is a great listener and can keep a straight face when I have a hissy fit about badness and boredom.

I cried, because society as a whole could benefit greatly by having many more great listeners and fewer talkers.

I cried, because my phone rang during my appointment.  It was the Red Cross calling for blood donations due to a severe blood shortage.

I cried, because I am a blood user not a donor.

That made me angry, and I cry when I am angry.

Kindness needs a little love once in awhile.

Please, think of others today and give blood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Is On My Mind Today? Living With Cancer and The Best 40th Wedding Anniversary Gift Ever!

doug and pat wedding

Sunday was Doug and my 40th wedding anniversary. Our refrigerator is shot, works but many pieces are missing, so on Saturday we went to buy a new one at Best Buy, pick up a dog toy for my neighbor’s dog, she needed a new flamingo, and buy some picture books for my World War II buddy El who is in the nursing home.

Well, as life would have it, we had to go home and re-measure and go back to Best Buy on Sunday….our anniversary.

So, as a joke, I asked the salesman if there was a 40th Anniversary discount. He responded that, that is at 50 years and we will have to come back in ten years…without missing a beat my big quiet husband resolutely stated, “We’ll be here!.”

Best anniversary gift ever!

What Is On My Mind Today: Reoccurring Tornado Nightmares…Good Coming From Cancer

tornado

I started a new oil painting just over a week ago.  Whenever I start a new painting I always try to challenge myself.  On this one I want to paint a cyclonic super cell with a tornado, and capture the soft marshmallow look of the wind bands of a super cell without losing the harsh menace of a tornado.  It’s a goal.

I have painted a lot of paintings of storm clouds, but I have never actually painted a tornado and I am finding it a challenge.  The more is less and less is more art principle certainly applies to this project.

I have seen many tornadoes.  The first one I ever saw was when I was a very small little girl.  My family and I were on a trip from our farm to the Twin Cities and a tornado dropped of the sky right in front of our car.  It crossed the road and ripped a very large metal factory to shreds.  Large pieces of sheet metal delicately floated through the air like wispy spider web threads caught in a breeze.  The contrast of the tornado’s awesome destructive power and its gentle beauty was not lost on me…not even as a small child.

Soon, after that experience I began having a repeating nightmare of being chased by tornadoes.  I didn’t have these dreams every night, but I did have them often. I had them as a child.  I had them as a teenager.  I had them as a mother and I have had them as a grandmother.  They are always heart pounders.

In the dream the blackness of the storm is crushing.  It is evil.  It shows no mercy. It is deadly. It chases me everywhere I hide. I can save others, and do, but the tornado always continues to stalk me.  When all hope is gone, I always turn and face the storm.  I want to see the thing that was going to get me.

Just before it destroys me, I always wake up.

As horrible as those tornado nightmares are to my subconscious, my conscious loves watching storms.  I always have, even as a child. As a teenager, I raced storms across our farm fields on my horse. The F3 tornado that hit Hugo several years ago, came down just three houses from mine. I watch storm chasers on television and the real thing whenever I get a chance, which in Minnesota is this time of year. I love watching the ways clouds move.  Never the same twice. If I am outside, you can bet that I am watching the sky.

Several years ago a fellow artist saw my work and thought that maybe I like looking at clouds so much, because I like looking up at heaven and that is where God lives.  That could be part of my fascination with storms.  However, there is a part of me that thinks that if I watch enough storms during the day, the tornadoes that visit me in the night will go away.

Obviously the tornado of my dreams is symbolic of fear.  Over the years I have given this issue a lot of thought trying to figure out just what fear the tornado represents.
Throughout my life I have found myself in more than my share of fearful situations.  Fear was often my constant companion.  Especially after the doctor told me at age ten that I was so sick with asthma that I would not live to see my twentieth birthday.  I can remember being just a little tiny thing going into the back of my closet and hiding in a toy box under a blanket to feel safe.

When Grandma Esther found out about my hiding from fear. She told me that if I didn’t admire cowards I should choose not to be one.  After the delivery of that excellent advice, I became quite good at confronting fear and letting it go.  My approach to life became…what doesn’t kill me, will only make me stronger.

Stronger I became, but nothing ever got rid of those tornado nightmares.

Until….

My cancer diagnosis for Multiple Myeloma.

A person doesn’t often think of good coming from a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but  getting rid of those nightmares was a good thing.  Then, too, when faced with your own mortality, you feel more alive that you have before.  Cancer teaches you that each day is a gift and to live it fully.  Relationships become so much more precious and nothing gets taken for granted. And, if you ask, you will find that God will give you the peace that passes all understanding and that there is no challenge this side of heaven where he will not walk right beside you.  Yes, good can come from a cancer diagnosis.

So was the tornado in my dreams the Multiple Myeloma?  I don’t think so, because I had thyroid cancer when I was only 30 years old and I still had the those nightmares.  It is probably more likely that the tornado was the severe asthma, that enlarged my heart and gave me the lung capacity of one lung, that was cured by the stem cell transplant.  Or, that after surviving 18 months in a body cast, all of the vertebrae in my back having compression fractures, over two years stuck in a hospital bed in my living room looking out a window at a tree, then going through six months of chemo and a stem cell transplant, I really just do not have much to fear anymore at all.

What doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger!

Or, maybe I finally learned that no matter what tornadoes may come,  I am never alone and have no reason to be afraid for God, my heavenly father, will never leave me or forsake me.

Psalm 23 

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Regardless of why,  I am so very grateful that both the nightmares and the cancer are gone.

I wish everyone’s nightmares and cancer were gone.

May God be with all of my fellow cancer soldiers and their families who did not choose, but were drafted into the war against cancer.

Numbers 6: 24-26
24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Now, back to painting tornadoes!

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? Cabin Fever, Perfect Hashbrowns and Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Good morning!  It is beautiful this morning with all of the white snow, blue skies, sunshine and the promise of forty degree temperatures this afternoon. The only thing more beautiful, would be anything to do with spring!

In the interest of that, this is a day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice, be happy and not waste it, I will be going outside later.

Going outside this time of year, not freezing and actually seeing the sun shine is a great gift.  Between the flu epidemic and all of the winter slipperiness, except for an occasional rare trip to the store for groceries and doctor appointments, I have not left the house since Christmas.  For a woman who loves being with people and outdoors, winters can become very long.

So, what do I do everyday?

Well, I set aside time to read from the Bible.  I have read the whole Bible and have just started re-reading the New Testament. I keep on tackling reading books from my “unread” pile.  I have read several historical slave diaries, women’s diaries and works written by former President Theodore Roosevelt.  He is a great author.  I have read biographies of the Rothschild and Medici. I just finished reading a book on western historical figure fallacies and am currently reading a book written in 1859 that was the actual handbook pioneers used to plan their prairie expeditions.  “The Best-Selling Handbook for America’s Pioneers,  The Prairie Traveler”, was written by Randolph B. Marcy, Captain, U.S. Army.

All I can say about the handbook is,  wow!  Who would have thought that for trip in a covered wagon, that would take months, all you need to pack is two pairs of woolen socks and a change of woolen underwear.  And, I am now well versed in the care, control and feeding of mules.  Information that would have been greatly helpful during my many years of working in politics.

In addition to reading, I work on my artwork.  I have completed several paintings this winter.  I have shown paintings in several art shows and even though, my paintings are like my children and I really hate the idea of them not being in my home,  it is time to let them go.  I need to start selling some artwork.

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I blog.

When I physically have to rest my much damaged spine to relieve pain, which means lying down.  I watch YouTube videos.

Tornado Chasing 
Pecos Hank Channel.  Hank has great storm chasing videos and plays in a band.  Great storms and music. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAQpSHsgUcNt6uCOjpgD8kw

Hiking,

Sabino Canyon, Tucson, AZ   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI53-aKqHjw
Madeira Canyon, Tucson, AZ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhF7qqs8Ovw
Glacier Park, MT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRhI3Z7xCOo

Beach Foraging, 

Coastal Foraging With Craig Evans Channel. Craig’s knowledge of tide pool editable’s and outdoor cooking is amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpBQMibpipuqHsI_mJMVveA

Abandoned Mine Exploration,
Exploring Abandoned Mines Channel. Frank is good-natured, happy, real piece of work.  He is Canadian. This guy knows absolutely no fear, rarely seems well-washed, and has no common sense whatsoever.  He had a dog for a while, but let’s just say that he didn’t believe in leashes and the dog got the shaft.  In his last video he was exploring mines in Mexico with two young Mexican boys who spoke no English, and Frank, of course, speaks no Spanish.  Oh, the boys brought along their three-legged dog.  I can’t make this stuff up.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtFNKt_IKBpalOWXuIreW7Q

Urban Exploration
Hell On Earth Channel. These boys, well they just remind me of cousins.  These lads hail from England and have some unique adventures.
https://www.youtube.com/user/earthwillburn

Bros of Decay Channel.  Leslie and his brother Jordy are…adorable, very polite and from Belgium. They explore really neat abandoned places.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bros+of+decay

Travel
Travel Troll Channel with Deep Digger Dan.  Deep Digger Dan is traveling through every county in Great Britain.  You get to see the out of the way places with a creative perspective.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd2_Z8IE9V2THqtdzNVQsIg

Metal Detecting
Aquachigger Channel. Beau metal detects on land and under water for historical artifacts.  Lots of Civil War artifacts.  He doesn’t like poison ivy.
https://www.youtube.com/user/aquachigger

Nuggetnoggin Channel.  Nuggetnoggin is a young man that knows Jesus and his historical artifacts.  I love the bible verses he posts. He gold mines, metal detects, and magnet fishes. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm_Fbx0tAqAOB3cA4d1GnXw

Gigmaster Channel.  The Gig is a former Navy Seal.  He metal detects, skin dives and pans for gold. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG4NUVdXsueqs5Ftvn8p0NA

Chill Bill Channel.  Chill Bill metal detects and mud-larks mostly in Europe.  The coins he finds are very old…very old indeed!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVWsO7_BMNwrVoJRJEcyUhA

Oh, I know that some of these things I watch on Youtube, I will never do or do again, but at least for a short time I can escape winter, the house and my cancer battle.

I play a lot with my dogs, because I love them and they love me.

The same applies to my husband.

And, I have spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with new recipes.

I have perfected how to make crisp fluffy hash browns from real potatoes.  The secret is rinsing all the starch off of the grated potatoes with very cold water.  This usually takes about four rinses. Drain after each rinse.  When the water in the bowl remains clear, drain again. Then dry them thoroughly with a cheese cloth towel or paper towels.  Fry in hot oil with two tablespoons of butter on medium high heat covered for 5 minutes, or until browned.  Uncover, turn and fry other side until browned.  Do not put the cover on again.  Having them covered at first, steams the potatoes so that they cook through while remaining fluffy in the middle. Putting it back on will soften your crust.  Nobody want that.

My greatest culinary discovery so far this winter is a baked cake donut.  My husband loves donuts.  I hate deep frying.  So, I have been trying to find a baked recipe for cake donuts that would meet my husband’s high standards. It has taken me awhile, but this recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donut Muffins meets and beats all expectations.

I will warn you that they are easy to make, delicious, addicting and definitely a waistline expansion threat.  However, they freeze perfectly and when reheated in the microwave taste like they are fresh out of the oven or from a bakery.

The recipe only yields about nine regularly-sized muffins.  So, if you have a large family, tall husband or are taking them to share at the office, I would recommend making more than one batch.

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Donut Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Thoroughly, grease muffin tins with soft butter.  Do not use paper muffin cups. 

In a large bowl combine:

1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

With a mixing spoon, stir the dry ingredients together.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add:

1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir until just combined. Do not over beat.

Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes.  The muffins will be very slightly browned.  Do not over bake.  A toothpick inserted in middle of the muffin will come out clean when they are done.

Remove from oven.  Cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan.

In a small bowl.  Melt five tablespoons of butter.  Lightly coat muffins with the butter.  I just roll them in the bowl.

Place butter coated muffins, three at a time, into a gallon-sized zip lock plastic bag that contains:  1/3 cup of granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Seal bag and shake until muffins are coated with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Remove and repeat with remaining muffins.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? Turning 59 and a Maraschino Cherry Birthday Cake

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Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, June 2017

This two-time cancer survivor turns 59 today.  Wow!

pat 59 day1_n(2)
I removed my cap for this birthday photo to prove I have hair and some of it is grey. 

To celebrate, I am going to make a layered maraschino cherry cake with cream cheese frosting.  My only issue is that the cake uses four egg whites and I have this thing about wasting food when so many others in this world go hungry.  So I will have to make more of my grandmother’s spritz cookies to use up those yolks.

Folks, there will be extra spritz cookies on the cookie trays this Christmas!

My birthday wish is that this day be filled with kindness, love and peace.

God bless all of you!

cherry-cake-slice

Maraschino Cherry Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

Ingredients:

16 ounce jar of Maraschino cherries, well-drained, save cherry juice.  Finely chop the cherries. The chopped cherries should be blotted dry with a paper towel and very lightly coated with flour.  This will help ensure that the cherries are evenly distributed through out the cake and not all sunk to the bottom.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cup sugar
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Maraschino cherry juice (reserved from cherry jar) combined with water to make 1 cup.
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized metal or glass mixing bowl, with an electric hand-mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.  Add vanilla. Combine and set aside.

In small mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir to combine

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Add flour alternatively with the cherry juice.  Beat until well combined.  Gently fold in beaten egg whites.  Fold until no white streaks remain.  Fold in cherries and gently mix until just evenly distributed.

Evenly divide the batter into the two round cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup  butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 
1 teaspoon vanilla

3  cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

In a large mixing bowl with a hand-mixer cream together butter and cream cheese.  Turn mixer speed down to low and slowly add powdered sugar.  Once powdered sugar is combined, turn up mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, fluffy and creamy.  Add vanilla and mix until completely combined.

If the frosting is not thick enough add small amounts of powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  If the frosting gets too thick, add a teaspoon of milk or cream to loosen it back up.

This pink and white cake also makes a lovely Christmas dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes: Lawns, Laughter, Cancer and Carrot Cake.

carrotcake

My husband and I have lived in the same house for over thirty years and have had the same neighbors, to the south of us, for that entire time.

Throughout the many years that we have lived on this earth side by side, our neighborhood has celebrated, cared and cried for each other.  We have watched our children grow; play; squabble; graduate elementary school, middle school, high school and college.  Then, move away and begin families of their own making us proud grandparents. In many ways, I am closer to my neighbors than I am my own siblings.   No one on this earth could have asked for better neighbors.

My neighbor’s wife has always been our neighborhood adult.  A finer person, I have yet to meet.  My neighbor, on the other hand, is a combination of wise sage, smart-ass, and political guru.  When that man was young, I swear, he could mow the lawn with a beer in each hand and still have the straightest lawnmower lines on the block. Outstanding talent!

There are two things that I can count on from my neighbor.  He always tells it like it is and he makes me laugh.  During my thirty-year career in politics, my neighbor would share his political opinions, whether I liked them or not. Then, he would tell me who was going to win the election and he was always right. He has an uncanny ability to read the electorate and pick the winners.

Then, too, no matter how bad things get, he makes me laugh.  During my cancer battle, when I was crippled up in pain with multiple spinal fractures, I was stuck in a gosh awful body cast for over eighteen months.  Now for those of you who have never seen this contraption of uncomfortableness and torture, I will describe it. It is a hard piece of plastic from chin to hip with the chest cut out so that you can breathe….a little. I could not be out of bed without the body cast on.

One day, when I had no make-up on, hair uncombed, and was wearing that cast while hunched over my walker making a herculean effort to push it a few feet further down our street than I had before, my neighbor comes by to say hello.  He takes one look and me, points at the cast and exclaims with a broad smile, “That thing is kinda sexy.”   Laughter hurt, but it was a good hurt.

My neighbor has also bailed me out of several near disasters. Like when he patiently sat by his backyard fire and scraped all of the melted Tupperware, which looked like melted marshmallow, off of all of my oven racks.  I look inside my oven now, before I turn it on…most of the time.

Then, there was the time he got a fine for helping me burn my trees that had been knocked down by a tornado.  When he saw the police office on a mission marching across his backyard towards us, he whispered, “Patricia, have you ever been arrested?” I sadly shook my head no and quickly informed him that I had never even had a parking ticket, but did once have a late library book. He grinned at me, said that is what he thought, and went over to greet the cop.  It was only this past spring, many years later, that he told me he got actually got fined.

My neighbor has always been very complimentary of my baking, which is high praise as he is a very accomplished cook.  Last winter, he actually helped me and another neighbor learn to make our own cheese.  After successfully completing the project, looking at all of the dirty dishes and messy kitchen, us two women decided that while the fresh cheese tasted outstanding we’d stick to purchasing our cheese.

No matter how awful, bald or sick I looked, during my cancer battle my neighbor would tell me I was looking good, cheer me on and would often shout, “Hurry up and get well so you can get back in the kitchen!”

I have returned to my kitchen and can again bake most of my favorite recipes.  In June, just about two weeks before I was to leave on my long planned cancer victory trip to Montana to hike in the mountains, I noticed that both my husband and my neighbor were up early mowing lawn.  I had some blueberries and decided to make the boys some blueberry coffee cake.

When I walked a piece of warm cake over to my neighbor, he was all smiles.  He said he just had poured himself a cup of coffee and the cake would be perfect.  I responded, “See you’d have missed me if I had croaked!”  He responded that yes he would have missed me and my baking a lot.  We both laughed and agreed that it was so very nice that our neighborhood was somewhat back to normal.

The very next week, my dear neighbor developed stroke like symptoms.  He was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The worst kind. A very aggressive Glioblastoma. His prognosis is challenging.

It isn’t supposed to be this way, he is exactly my age.  Oh, I always figured that my neighbor would die young.  That I accepted long ago, but I always figured he’d go out in a blaze of glory by getting struck by lightening on the golf course, or by electrocuting himself by severing another power line with his digging spade, or falling off yet another ladder, or going bird shooting with Dick Cheney.  Not like this, never like this! Not, MY neighbor!

When my neighbor’s wife told me the news, I immediately offered to cancel my trip to the mountains, but neither of them would hear of it.  I was told to go, enjoy myself and not to give them a thought.  Well, I went, I enjoyed myself, but I certainly prayed and thought about both of them and their only child often.

True to form, my neighbor took on his cancer battle with a stellar positive attitude.  He would do no less. However, despite the amazing care provided by his wife, that poor man has had nothing, but one horrible side effect after another during his cancer treatment.  While I cannot do much about any of his other side effects, there is one side effect that I can do something about…he has developed an insatiable sweet tooth.

So, while I have been neglecting my blog this summer, I have been in my kitchen baking for my neighbor, his wife, son and his sweet tooth.  My friend’s favorites…pie, cheesecake, chocolate-zucchini cake, orange chiffon cake, caramel and sweet rolls, lemon zucchini bread and a variety of cookies are frequently delivered to his home.

This week I had planned to make his favorite cake, carrot cake, as a special treat to celebrate his last week of radiation.  However, yesterday, my buddy, took a terrible turn for the worse and is back in the hospital.  Regardless, I have have decided that I am going to go ahead and bake his cake.  That way, it will be here when he comes home.  However, if you could, would you all pray for my dear neighbor who right now is so very sick, anxious and pain ridden, and for his dear wife and son.

Thank you and God Bless!

The World’s Best Carrot Cake  from the kitchen of Kathy Warrick

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small mixing bowl stir together:
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl combine:
1 cup of oil
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 whole eggs

Add flour mixture to the egg mixture and combine completely.

Stir in:
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup coconut, shredded
1 cup of raisins

Optional:  1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

When batter is completely mixed, pour into greased 9 X 13 pan or into two greased and floured eight-inch layer cake pans.   Bake the 9 X 13 cake for about 45 minutes and the layer cakes for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and cool completely.  If you are making a layer cake, let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely. When cooled, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

In a small mixing bowl whip together with an electric mixer:
1-8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
3 cups of powdered sugar

Add and mix until completely combined:
2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Garnish cake with 1 cup of shredded coconut.

Blogger Update:  I just learned that he has had a better day today.

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? I Have Climbed the Mountain…The Trip to Montana

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Yellowstone Mountains

I remember the call from my oncologist so very clearly.  After months of battling brittle bones and being injected daily with bone hardening drugs into my stomach, just as I thought I had begun to make progress, he called me to tell me that my bone marrow biopsy was positive for multiple myeloma…a bone marrow cancer.

My first thought was thank God they finally know what’s slowly killing me.  My second thought was like the words of the song says, “Lord, this time you gave me a mountain. A mountain that I may never climb.  It isn’t a hill any longer. You gave me a mountain this time.”

It isn’t surprising that my first thoughts were of God and mountains. Throughout the four years that I battled multiple myeloma, at first just to survive, then to get mobility back, I would often mentally picture walking in the mountains of Montana.  Mountains have always been where I have felt closest to God and found peace.

Multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, destroyed my bones.  They became so brittle that all of my thoracic and lumbar vertebra sustained compression fractures.  I once had six new fractures in my back at one time. I also endured several cracked ribs.

I would break my back doing the simplest of tasks including flossing my teeth, lifting a toilet lid and trying to pick a shirt up off of the floor.  For over 18 months I was imprisoned in a chin to hip hard body cast.  I spent over two and a half years confined to a hospital bed in my living room staring out of my living room window at a small oak tree in my front yard.  I was unable to stand or walk without using a walker for over three years. So, being able to hike in the mountains of Montana was a pretty far-fetched goal.

If in reality I couldn’t get to mountains, I could in my mind. I dreamed, I was in those mountains, often.  I was there when I was encased in that body cast. I spent time in them when imprisoned in the hospital bed in my living room. I was climbing those mountains the day they put the Hickman chemo port into my chest.  I visited those snow covered peaks each time they bored holes into my bones using only local anesthesia before they used a massive syringe to suck out bone marrow samples.

Those mountains were in my nursing home, rehab and hospital rooms. They were there the day I watched, “the nuclear bomb” of chemo for my stem cell plant slowly enter my body.

There were times during those years of battling cancer, fear, depression, chemo therapy and stem cell transplant side effects, mobility loss, and pain when my only contact with the great outdoors, for this outside farm girl, was dreaming of mountains and their meadows.

To beat my cancer I did everything the doctors asked me to do, except for one thing. I refused to use a wheelchair.  I had no intention of being trapped in one of those. For, I had decided, like Winston Churchill stated in his greatest and shortest speech to  “Never, never, never give up.”  In fact, I bought a silver dog tag engraved with those words to always wear around my neck on a necklace that included my cross, a silver family tree given to me by my grandson on a Mother’s Day long ago and the first ring my husband ever gave me.

After making the decision to fight on, no matter how sick I was, whenever someone helped me out of bed, I would push my walker around my kitchen island until I was too tired to go any further. First one, then five, 10, 20 and eventually a 100 laps a day.  I wore a trail into my hardwood floors.

During the long months that stretched into years when I was too sick and weak to leave my home, occupational and physical therapists would come to bathe me, and help me relearn the simplest of tasks.  First, I had to learn how to get out of bed without breaking more bones.  As I would sit up I could feel my weak spine bend sideways just like a willow branch and would pray that it would not snap and paralyze me.  It didn’t.

Eventually, I re-learned how to do stairs. Then, after months of being totally house bound, with two therapists, one on each side, I was allowed to go outside and push my walker to the end of my driveway and back.

There were many trips to the end of my driveway.   I can still remember the sheer terror of trying to step down from the driveway to the street for the first time without jarring my spine.  I did it, though, and my world began to grow. First just to the edge of our property line, next came the end of our street and eventually laps around the block pushing a walker with tennis balls on the bottom.  As I grew stronger, I mastered using a walker with wheels, next came two canes and eventually just one cane.

I walked and walked. I walked with shuffling feet, bent over, with a broken back.  I walked sick and exhausted from chemo. I walked bald.  I walked masked.  I walked on flat streets, inclines and hills.  I wore out many tennis balls.  I have worn out many rubber stoppers on the bottom of my canes. I climbed stairs many times a day just to strengthen my bones and leg muscles. Each step I took was me telling my cancer to go to blazes.

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Pushing my walker on a hiking trail at William O’Brien State Park

After such a hard and long cancer battle, you cannot imagine the joy of traveling out of state for the first time in almost six years; being in Great Falls, Montana, to visit and hug my dear Aunt Margaret who faithfully called me weekly throughout all of those years to lead me in Bible study; and to at last stand on a hiking trail in Montana and see a horizon filled with snow and wild flower covered mountains.

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Uncle Klynn and Aunt Margie

As I stood beneath a snow-capped footstool of God, the bible verse that I clung to throughout my cancer battle was again prayed.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

It did not matter whether I could only lift my eyes to the top of a small oak tree in my front yard, or the summit of a great mountain, my help always came from the Lord….who never left me or forsook me.

With baby steps, a bit a grit and by the grace of God, I climbed the mountain!!!

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I hope you enjoy these vacation pictures!


Lots of Wild Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

 

Beautiful Wild Flowers

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Animals galore! Bear, wolf, elk and antelope too! 

 

Geyser basins.

Waterfalls 

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Mountains!

Doug!

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Me!

It was a great trip. We hiked from sun up to sundown and I never even got sore muscles….Bully!!!!!