My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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Cooking Through Cancer: Kale Stuffed Potatoes

I told you I wouldn’t be cooking too often but I’ve been eying this recipe on Smitten Kitchen for a while now.  I love kale, I love potatoes and I love cheese.  So, why not?  I gave them a try yesterday and they came out great.  I love this recipe for those going through cancer treatment as well because they are flavorful but not overwhelming.  They are also wonderful if you are experiencing anemia due to treatment because both the kale and the potatoes with the skin are great sources of iron.  They are not hard to make so try it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Take 3 large russet potatoes, wash them, poke holes throughout and bake them in an oven at 400 degrees for about an hour.

IMG_0664 IMG_0666Take some fresh kale, tear the leaves off, rinse and saute with a little salt.  No need to add oil.  I took prewashed leaves from Trader Joe’s so when I cooked them I just added a bit of water.  I set those aside in a bowl.  Then, to the same pan I added a tablespoon of olive oil and butter, cut up an onion (the recipe calls for leeks but I couldn’t get one) and sauteed until it was tender.  I added that to the bowl. IMG_0668 I grated about a cup of gruyere cheese (I didn’t measure exactly) and added that to the mix along with 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt (the recipe calls for sour cream but this is what I had in the fridge).  When the potatoes are done, cut in half, scoop out the potatoes leaving a thin shell and add to the mixture.  Mix it all up, stuff the potatoes and top with a little more grated gruyere cheese.  Bake for another 15 minutes.IMG_0669 Voila!!!!!!  So yummy!IMG_0670 IMG_0672I served it with the turkey burgers I made last time.  I don’t love onions so if I were to do it again, I’d try the recipe with the leeks but still it was good.  Oliver tried it and ate some but I don’t think he loved it.  But in order to get his after dinner cookies, he ate most of his portion.  If he really didn’t like it, he would have spit it out or thrown up (seriously!) and neither of those happened so I consider this dish a success.

For some added health benefit, I wonder how this dish would taste with sweet potatoes?  Any ideas on other ways to make this dish even healthier?

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Bits of Happiness #4

Inspirational Poem

The Journey by Mary OliverIMG_1317One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.


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Bits Of Happiness #2

I’m behind on my “Bits of Happiness” posts, which I think are super important when in a cancer journey so I’m going to be playing some major catch up today.  Be prepared for lots of joy!!!!!

Bits of happiness #2….

ANOTHER CUDDLE POST!  Because I can never get enough.

IMG_0305


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No More Buns

photo credit: momvstheboys.com

photo credit: momvstheboys.com

Most people don’t know this but, Ken and I made the decision to have Oliver at a 24 hour laundromat.

When I was in my twenties, the only thing I could think about was having a baby. I wanted one desperately and couldn’t wait to meet the right guy, get married and start my family. I met the right guy when I was 24 and we got married when I was 30. Around the same time I had given up pursuing acting for good and returned to school to study Applied Theatre at CUNY and made a career shift to teaching artistry. My urges for a sweet cuddly baby suddenly switched to urges for jobs with aging populations, immigrants and young women, to name a few. I was focused more on my career than a growing family and was unsure of how a new person that I would have to grow in my body fit into the mix.

Then, as Ken and I were folding t-shirts, he said to me, “So, are we going to have a baby?” “I don’t know. What do you think?” He replied, “You know how I feel. I can go either way. But if we are going to do it, we need to do it now. We can’t wait much longer.” He was right. So that night, over a pile of unfolded clothes, Ken and I decided that we would “not, not try” for a baby and whatever happened, happened. What happened was, three months later, I was pregnant.

When most people who are trying or, “not, not trying” for a baby find out that they are with child, they scream, they jump for joy or cry. I, on the other hand, stopped breathing and nearly passed out. I was scared and in shock. To deal with the stress. I went to a kickboxing class. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’m not sure but it’s what I did. And this reaction scared me even more because, for someone who always wanted a baby, why was I feeling this way? Why was I suddenly having an, “Oh, shit!” moment?

This didn’t last, of course. All I had to do was hear the heartbeat and I was all in. Nine months couldn’t come fast enough. I couldn’t wait to meet my little guy and it turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the greatest thing I have ever done and continue to do.

It seems that lately, everyone is getting pregnant again. Mothers who were pregnant at the same time as me, people I knew from my past, old friends, acquaintances. I know this because of facebook. It seems every few days there’s a photo of a newly swollen belly, a small white figure floating in a sea of blackness, all head, skinny limbs, a toddler wearing a shirt that says, “big brother” or “big sister” and smiling at the camera, not sure why they are really smiling but, does that matter?

I am not feeling angry or bitter about this. I think that sometimes women with fertility issues (very understandably) can be very angry when other women get pregnant and are able to grow their family. It’s a hard pill to swallow. That is not the case here. I am so happy for everyone who is newly pregnant, about to give birth or already has. Excited for them, in fact!  At the same time, I am also sad for myself. I still don’t understand why this choice had to be taken away from me? From us?

Why is the discussion between me and Ken not, “should we try again?” Why is it, “should we take out a loan for surrogacy instead of saving for a home for the family we already have?” “Should I try to have a child naturally despite the fact that my eggs have most likely been murdered by chemotherapy?” “Should I not take the tamoxifen, that will prevent a new cancer from growing, just so I can try for another? Putting my existing family at risk?” Why are these the questions I have to ask? Why can’t I just do?

I am not the first nor will I be the last to ask these questions. But sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes I get to be sad for myself.

I am sad.


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Last Chemo Day, Part 2: Our Story

Sorry for the wait on this post.  I got a little tired and lazy these last few days but I’m ready to write about it now.

In my last post, I wrote about the amazingly wonderful, joyous, memorable day I had celebrating my last chemo with my family and cancer team at NYU.  It truly was the celebration I had been imagining for months and months.  Thank you to all that made it happen!  But what happened next was so extraordinary, so special and humbling, I never could have predicted the impact it would have on me.

If you look at my pictures from my last chemo day, you’ll see that I made a poster that read, “My Last Chemo!  Take a Picture With Me!”  I didn’t make it for the hospital.  I made it to take to the streets of NYC.  I was going to hold up the sign in front of the NYU Cancer Center but, like always, it took forever to get my chemo from the lab and I ended up leaving the hospital just in time for my special lunch reservation with Ken.  So instead of bringing out the sign in front of the cancer center, I stood outside the train station in Union Square Park to see what would happen.

At first I stood there.  People stared, not sure what to make of this girl holding up a sign that read, “My Last Chemo.”  I got a lot of those, “is this for real?” skeptical NYC looks.  Ken said to me, “Don’t be upset if no one comes up to you.  This is NY.”  But I knew if I waited and looked extra friendly, something would happen.  Because, this is NY!

Soon people started to walk by and clap, congratulating me on my success.  I beamed!  And then, this happened.

IMG_7261He walked up to me and said, “Ya, I’ll take a picture with you!”

Then this happened.

IMG_7263The guy on the right…his father just went through chemo so he and his friend wanted to take a picture with me.  They were very sweet about it.

Then there was a lull between people wanting to be photographed.  But then I saw a girl charging me with her arms wide open.  She embraced me, so genuinely happy for me.  She told me that a few weeks ago she lost a good friend to cancer but she was so happy that I was doing well.  You could see that she was hurting but I felt like being there gave her renewed hope.  I took a picture with her and then she asked if she could have a picture with her phone to share with her friends.  I obliged.

I'll never forget her and her story.  She was simultaneously happy for me and mourning her own loss.

I’ll never forget her and her story. She was simultaneously happy for me and mourning her own loss.

Another woman came up to me after this but didn’t want to take a picture with me.  Her sister is undergoing chemo for breast cancer and she wanted to let me know.  I asked how her sister was doing.  She took a breath in as if to say, “it’s really tough.”  She didn’t want to talk to much about it but just wanted to let me know what was happening.  I wished her and her sister well, hoping that she gets better soon.  She left, maybe a little sadder than the moment before.  So was I.  Then this happened.

IMG_7266And this.

IMG_7267Then the traffic started to slow down so we decided to walk and find a new spot to stand.  As we were walking, we came upon an art installation made up of a bunch of felt pigeons that looked real!  It was so cool.  As we stopped to admire (I still had my poster out) the woman next to me turned and said, “You just finished chemo?”  “Yes.” “My sister starts chemo tomorrow.  I don’t know how to help her.  What can I do?”  Her sister also has breast cancer and two children.  I told her what helped me; meals, house cleaning, laundry service, babysitting.  She listened.  She was upset and scared for her sister but really wants to help but I think feels left out.  It’s hard to let people in.  I understand what her sister must be going through.  I wished her well, hoping I helped just a little.

Ken and I found a new spot where we were cheered and congratulated more.  But we also got a lot more crazy stares.  Both made me smile even more.

One man came up to me and asked, “Last chemo?  What does that mean?”  I explained that I just had my last chemotherapy session.  “Really?  Are you serious?  That’s awesome!  My dad went through chemo and he’s doing really well now!  He even stopped smoking!”  Then he gave a kiss on each cheek and gifted me with a half pint of blackberries that he had just bought for himself.  How sweet is that?

Then this guy came over and was like, “This is awesome!”  I love this picture and his face.

IMG_7269Then it was time for me to go.  Ken had to pick up Oliver and I had to go to work.  But as I was beginning to fold up my poster, a teenager with his mom came to me and put his arm around me.

IMG_7272I wish I could have stayed out there all day.  This experiment impacted me in ways that I didn’t expect.  When you get cancer there’s a lot of “me” and “I” going around.  “This is happening to me.”  “I am getting chemotherapy.”  This is my pain.”  But what I realized on a deeper level than ever before is that cancer isn’t just happening to me.  Cancer impacts us all.  It isn’t just my story.  It’s our story.

It is our story.