Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I woke up to this. 

Happy Less Birthdays To You. Happy Less Birthdays To You. Happy Less Birthdays Dear (your name here). Happy Less Birthdays To You. 

Last weeks brave and bold dietary adventures-well, I can't say they were an Actual Disaster but on a week where I set out to enjoy a complete plant based diet-I ended up eating red meat FIVE times. That doesn't even make sense, does it? 

At the same time, I DID eat oatmeal-Which Is Shocking-a record seven times in a row. I could never eat it as a kid. I was forced to be the last one at the dining room table as the bowl of ice cold grey glue seemed to get larger every time I tried to take a bite. It actually grew back. 

Lawd Have Mercy-it was disgusting stuff. And as I was relishing it this week-ha ha! With my own handcrafted organic strawberry /Elm Street rhubarb goo and a half a sliced banana, raw sunflower seeds and walnuts and a teeny splash of pomegranate juice, I thought about the invention of microwaves and the availability of one whole lotta fruit and I guess it's like everything else. 

Sometimes you just have to wait until the cosmos align. Er whadever.

So I've decided to go about this in the manner of the plate spinners we used to watch on Bozo's Circus. Like this. And I'll get one seriously solid breakfast plate spinning and then work really hard on the lunch one. 

I did handcraft some Beauty Balls

It looks like a heart kinda-sorta. 

A recipe I adapted from the library book known as: 

Bobbi Brown Beauty from the Inside Out: Makeup * Wellness * Confidence

(Official Title: Walnut Cacao Beauty Bites)

It was a cup of chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup of chopped into smithereens medjool dates
1/4 cup cacao chocolate chips chopped into oblivion
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
hemp hearts for rolling

And on the advice of Leigh Anne-when I Facebook-asked how I could smash things together without a cuisinart-she suggested a ziplock bag and I realize what I actually do is massage this stuff.


I also made mine relatively tiny. When I want something sweet I don't actually want quantity. Also I am cheap. And lazy. So there.

They're good and they live in the freezer. Works for me. 

I had an ultrasound of my neck this week. I believe they do a final check for any trouble in Thyroid Town and as I said to P-I'm gonna know if something is up based on the clickery of the technician. She didn't seem to find a spot and go clicking like mad so, for once, I just sat back quietly and took it all in.  

Next week, I'll have to drink the gack of a cat scan. I was kinda okay-ish with the thought of this laparoscopic  correction on the horizon until they informed me I'd have drink more of that stuff and that's when it kinda hit me in the department of ugh. 

The 4th version of the project I've been working on for 4 years is being furiously sent out willy nilly which can only mean that a rejection passes back into my universe here and there-usually when I least expect it-and I'll be feelin' better then okay and after opening one of those-it's kind of like stubbing your toe. Like everything is great except for one little thing that you can't put your finger on. 

Makes you wobbly. 

We were madly bobbing and flailing at one of the water aerobics classes and the instructor was telling us about getting her house ready for a party and how her sister-in-law was well known for going to people's houses and criticizing the decor was expected to be there and they knew she was a professional critic because her conversation included details about other people's houses and I was shocked to hear my own voice chime in with a story of one of my relatives who used to visit and how my Mom had to actually turn their filing cabinets to face the walls-because this person could not be trusted. 

And that's where the moment I crossed over into one of those older sort of women who like to chat. 

Imagine that. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I've been distracted because I'm tryin' ta cure cancer. (That's how we talk in Chicagoland. I LOVE hearing people say: Game-ah-thrones.)

Why now. Well, that last blood draw? It sort of gacked me out pain-wise. She went very deep and harpoon-like into my arm with the needle and I dunno-I think it's because I haven't been poked in awhile-it kinda hit me in my stomach for the first time. 

Then, seeing this one man in the Cancer Center with some portion of his neck swaddled and him walking like a zombie. Then another man-with ochre skin. 

And then I remembered the title of the last book that doctor from Gilda's Club tossed in our direction(The End of Dieting-Dr. Joel Fuhrman.) and somehow that got right in front of me and I had to read it-and then I had to read all of his books and then I had to go on the hunt for a vegan cookie-and then I realized if something is vegan it doesn't mean it's good for ya-that's after dragging home an armload of books so the reading has been fast and furious and all over the place. 

This is more that I usually allow myself to take home. I usually stop at 5. 

Most interesting: There's a new crop of beauty books-I like to read those. Every since my Mah called us down from upstairs to watch Vidal Sassoon on Phil Donahue(Did anyone else's Mom do that?)-the transformation delights and astounds me and that doesn't happen often enough-but these new 'beauty from the outside in' sort of books? I haven't side by side compared them exactly? But I'm almost certain they're based on the exact same (anti-cancer)foods. Crazediculous, no? 

Todays' breakfast was from Dr. Fuhrman's books, it looked prettier before it hit the microwave. So here's the before: 

and the after: 

And the recipe(if you're interested).

I've been starting to talk to people about this. Actually one person I have been massaging for a while now-we were talking about diets or something and I said, okay so, you know I had cancer, right? Her eyes pop open. WHAT? I say, yeah. No big deal. It's all over.(You have to reassure people when you have this sort of conversation. Go figya.) She asks, what kind of cancer? I say well, colon and then thyroid. And she said YOU BEAT COLON CANCER? Like this is the Most Magnificent Thing and with my hands covered in gloppy massage goo I say, well, uhhh I'm still here, right? 

WHOA she says. 

Yeah, huh? I say. 

And she goes on to say her mother died from colon cancer after battling it for 12 years. And I say, I am really sorry. That is horrendous. And her next question: Are you making your boyfriend do the diet too?

I thought it was funny. Like I have a bunch of broccoli and an uzi submachine gun and I'm not afraid to use them. 

Four things I think are quite stupendous

Thing one. This milk. 

 (Actually my dermatologist recommended this stuff.) 

Thing three. This documentary. Please watch it.

And this dog. 

She's 17. The other night I had her out? She decided to run and she also decided I needed to run so here's this 38 pound dog flying down the street with me attached. 

It was a thing to behold. I tay ya.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hello Blog. 

I've been away. I've been readingthinkingreadingthinkingreadingthinking. You know how that is. I was even wondering if-on my tax form under occupation could I put 'Contemplative'. A social contemplative. Hmm. I have to think about that.

First, I shall offer you a recipe. Ready? 

K-9 not included. 

Take one half of one smallish avocado and put some Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend on it. Tastes even better if it sits on there for a little while but whatever. No pressure. 



Next thing. Might not be interesting to anyone but me but here it is. I have to see the hematologist(We call her The Blood Lady for no apparent reason.)and she works out of the Cancer Center. I never never never never never noticed this and I've been (off and on) going to this gym for a long, long time. 

At the end of this hallway, the sign on the wall 
says: Center for Fitness 

At the other end of the same hallway
(you can't really see it because I'm trying not to annoy others)
the sign says: Cancer Center. 

Same hallway. Never noticed it. 


Wow, huh. 

I had to go to the Cancer Center twice this week because I had my 6-month check-in thing so I had to go and have my blood drawn. I can't put my finger on it exactly-maybe it was the sheer volume of people or maybe it was exactly how ill people appeared-maybe both, I dunno. 

If I said it was sobering, you would understand. 

I remember in the coolest oil painting class in the universe-it was just at the beginning and I remember asking the instructor-hey uhh how do I make skin color. I didn't have any idea. We even had a tube called 'flesh' if you can imagine that level of thought-but the skin tones of various people in the Cancer Center. Those are not colors you'd use. 

Does that make sense? 

So I did see the blood lady. I think I waited about 50 minutes and that's because the person ahead of me was having a bigger crisis that I could ever imagine so while I sat there, I drew things I might like to have tattooed on my wrist if I wasn't taking blood thinners so I'm not going to but it was something to do. The leading drawing is a tiny pair of glasses. Good thing I have a Sharpie. 

The Blood Lady misses P like crazy. I think she said: Where's your friend? about 4 times. Weird. 

Two very strange conversations with a neighbor that I haven't been able to sort out completely. Imagine a person gloating about their health insurance and how great it is-thanks to mine(and P's) tax dollars. is one supposed to respond to something like that without having a grapefruit within reach to push into the offenders face? Who says things like that? 

Same person, different day, just totally rips into me with a  furious tantrum and his topic was something like, What Kind Of Mood I Am In (and by the way-I don't believe I inquired at all) but what I did was this: I pointed my finger at some spot in the distance and I said: Get away from me. 

I'm not kidding. 

Get away from me. 

Speaking of toxin removal or whatever, right? 


We were at a teeny art street festival on Saturday. It was after work for me so I was really hungry and we get up to the food section and there's a choice of fries, a bratwurst or a hot dog and I see that it's being offered by the restaurant who's owner is a guy who was treated for colon cancer around the time I was and I think: I can't eat that. 

Not the same week I saw people who's skin was the color of ochre. Nuh-uh. 

So I've been reading and thinking. I knew you'd understand. 

Oh and singing. I think my friend Alice was the first one who posted something from Choir! Choir! Choir! and then, there was an email where they said they were actually coming to Chicago to sing a Prince song and I got on the Old Town School of Folk Music website pronto and I couldn't get it to let me buy any tickets so I finally called and found that there was only one left. 

Can I have it? I asked. 

One of my Aunts-in this story it was my sainted Aunt JoAnn(am I even spelling that properly? It's been so long.)talking to my cousin Becky because Becky was going to be taking some sort of very long bus journey where she didn't know anyone and Aunt JoAnn said: Find the cutest boy and sit next to him.

Why does that-of all things-stick in my head? It's a good thing that it did because I got to the song fest early and met a woman who was also there by herself(Frieda) so we went in together and suddenly there was William(I don't know if he actually goes by William. It was hard to hear.)because Freida dumped us for the limelight(you can't imagine how pushy people got to be in a live Facebook video-cripes.) Anyway, long story short-it was SO fun. Get on their mailing list if you can. Daveed has a glorious voice. 

One more recipe.



Have a happy week. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How I get my !@# to the gym. 
(A reminder to myself)

Thing one. I stopped making such a big deal out of it. 

I used to drag a big ungainly orange Speedo swimming bag because it made me feel more Sporty Spice and for some reason, I filled it up with a buncha gymmy stuff and dragged it back and forth. I dunno, like it had it's own deodorant and a hair brush and a swimming cap and just other nonsense. 

Now I have a little bag in which I shove my swim suit and a comb and that's it. 

And when my suit gets all dried out? It lives in it's bag in my car. So it's ready when I am. (Oh yeah, that's another thing. One-A. I try to go while I'm already in motion. Like after work. Or on my way to doing something else.) 

If I go to play on the machines? I wear what I'm going to wear. 

The gym is not located in outer Mongolia. It's 4.9 miles and/or 8 minutes away(depending on traffic which is currently: Not So Good.) I'm not going to be in any fashion shows on the way home. Duh=me. Goodbye orange bag. 

Thing Two. Sunday evenings, I check the menu of classes and I treat it like a menu and I pick some out and put them on the calendar. Fun ones. I need to keep my fun levels elevated. 

Thing three. Badditude adjustment. 

One time I was heading out and I said, okay I'm just gonna go knock this out and I'll be on to the next thing and then I'll be home. P said. Don't just 'knock it out'. You're supposed to enjoy it

Oh, said me. That makes a lot more sense. 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Last week I was FOR SURE that I was being revisited by the cancer fairies. I mean, I was sure. 

To their credit, nobody in my universe smirked or smiled or rolled their eyes. Not a single one of them. I kept it relatively quiet tho-don't wanna be the woman who blogged wolf. 

My arm hurt. Inside my upper arm. Where the nodes live. I was purposely flailing around with all the other ladies in the water aerobics class and my left arm wasn't cutting the mustard and I cannot estimate the ages of the other ladies compared to myself, but I know I'm not the oldest (or the youngest) and everybody else had both arms up making circles up in the air except for me. I had this weird weakness on my left side. And (I guess) the thinking behind this kind of thing is like-Fool me once Mister Cancer-shame on me but you are not going to catch me ill prepared a second time-nosireebob and so last week was like a regular week except for that. 

Made a doctors appointment with my Primary Care on Friday. P now trusts me to go alone and so do I. Went in with a short laundry list. 1. Do you think I'm dying?  2. I quit taking omeprasol, ya think that was a bad idea? 3. Whaddaya think this thing is next to the top of my giant scar? 

Ohmahgawd, he was so (mentally) gentle with me, it was a thing to behold. Did a quick exam. Talked about the last mammogram. Thought through the possibilities of what it could be. And we agreed-this is how health care IS now by the way. You get to participate-we'd give it a week. 

I felt better. I am fully aware that this is a thing with cancer patients. (You saw this, right? The description says: GOP Representative Tom McArthur is the man responsible for the amendment that brought Trumpcare back from the dead and secured its passage in the House. His constituents are not pleased.)  I wouldn't say every squeak makes me think: cancer, but it's a thing, right? In fact, one of the factoids in that Preventing Recurrence class was to avoid swimming in pools. 

I've decided it's okay with me if I die of swimming pool cancer and in fact I will award myself extra credit if that happens. Especially if I die of taking a summer outdoor water aerobics class in the rain which is one of the greatest joys known to Ann. (Also I take the recommended hot soapy shower afterwards because that's supposed to help because I am not an idiot.) 

Omeprasol got on my very last nerve. Thing one. Insurance refused to pay for it. Thing Two. I had to wake up an entire hour early so it could sit alone in my stomach. Thing Three. I bought some and I took it and I realized it was covered in some sorta sweetened gackily goo. (aka:spoonful of sugar)What kind of bullshit is that? 

He said he thought it was being overprescribed and that I was okay without it. 

Pull up my shirt, point at the thing. Okay what do you think this is? And do you think I should be pushing it in? Or what. 

Big deep breath on his end. I know you're not going to like this after the last 2 years you've had, but it looks like a hernia. 

I seriously did not see that coming. 


Next episode: The distraction project. Why I will not be standing beneath the inflatable colon. And friends. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It was the last night of Three Weeks to Optimum Health-Preventing Cancer Recurrence and Having Optimum Health. The group had started with 22 people and now it seemed like there may have been more volunteers than participants. I stayed in my same chair I'd started with because it had the best view and who sat down next to me, but the man who was running the program. The former orthopedic surgeon pulls up a chair next to me and doesn't say a word. 

We started talking about exercising and I told him about the Cancer Program at Loyola and the not so very good experience with the LiveStrong program at the Berwyn Y. (Hello Hernia) He graduated from Loyola many years ago and was familiar with the gym there and then we got talking about the change over from regular food to this new kinda food and I said, Okay so, when do you think my digestive system is going to start going along with the program-because there had been all kinds of intestinal theatrics and I thought they were supposed to calm down. Oh yeah, it takes a few weeks he said. And that was that. 

This is from the second night.

The program started. We learned more stuff about poisons in the environment and how-let's say you get stuck behind a sputtering bus(just happened to me today)that you should make every effort to avoid sitting there breathing that stuff in.

We learned a Dr. Weil breathing maneuver that I've been practicing. You place the tip of your tongue on that little web thing about your two front teeth. You empty your lungs of air. Then you breathe in to a count of 4. Hold for a count of 7 and out for a count of 8 and you do this 4 times-twice a day. 
So that when you get into some sort of upsetting situation-the very first thing you're supposed to do-is this breathing maneuver and then you'll be reacting from a place of unfreakazoidism. 

You're welcome.

So okay, back to the night and guess what? The nutritionist has joined us and-get this-she looks like a normal person. What's up. With. That? That night we were feasting on Shiitake and Ginger Soup, Grilled Vegetable Wrap and Black Bean Mango Salsa. All very delicious. Okay maybe not this soup. Kinda like something you'd be served in an upscale vegetarian prison camp but it was okay. And look! Noodles! 

So the doctor starts his powerpoint but before he does, he goes on a tangent about how Ann Over There Knows All About Transitioning To A Healthier Diet. 

I was like, holee muther of jayzuz, if I have not yet experienced pure mortification(and I believe I have-have I not?)here we go, huh? 

And people were like, huh? And I stammered, okay welllll, an entire symphony seems to have uhhhh moved into my intestinal superhighway. And people at the ends of the other tables were peeking at me like, who the hell said THAT? And there was laughter. Laughter of recognition. And ya know what? It was absolutely fine. I thought, oh. Okay. This is what advanced mortification+hilarity feels like. Not so bad. I can be that person. Imagine that. 

That night, there was also a very young Physical Therapist who has specialized in Cancer Rehab. Isn't that cool? Like how to get you moving when you absolutely can't. And things like that. And she's doing it because she survived cancer herself. 

I asked for the spinach dip recipe we didn't get last time and I got talking to the nutritionist. She said, you're in comedy or something, aren't you? I said, well, I drew cartoons. So yeah, I guess so. She said she's a dietician-is that like the difference between a beautician and a stylist? And that she had pulled herself through one of the most terrible cancers and at some point-she'd been revisited by the cancer fairies in another body part and that's when she got very serious about changing her diet. 

I lamented that weight didn't seem to be falling off me at the astounding rate it should be since I started eschewing office birthday cake and she said that there are all kinds of things going on within your system so you just don't exactly know. I told her I'd given up cheese but I was struggling with the idea of saying goodbye to sugar and she said, she'd rather have me eat a bit of good cheese then to have any sugar at all. And then she said she'd send me some recipes as soon as she could. She has some stuff going on-life-wise so, it may take a bit of time. 

You liked the spinach dip, she said? I wanted to rub it on my face. It was That Good. 

Ahh you do stand-up comedy, don't you?  I can always tell. she said. 

Well I did do it once. 

Moral to the story. Stay open. Stay honest. Stay hungry. And practice your stand-up every day.