Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

...but once you hear my story, you could see how people might have been misled. This hardly seems the right forum for my tale, but as most of my posts are inflected with every little thing that's going on in my life, I don't see how to avoid the subject. So here goes...

Sorry to overshare, but I had been having some "female trouble" for some time, and I finally went to see a gynecologist about it. She found that I had a very thickened uterine lining, so she scheduled me for a D&C. I truly expected that she would then put me on some hormones after that, and send me on my way. But the test results of the tissue that she removed were very, very bad. :-(

Apparently, at the age of only 42, I had uterine cancer--an unusual and aggressive type at that. I saw an excellent oncologist right away, and he took very swift and radical measures to treat me. Just a week after I saw him for the first time, I was admitted to Fletcher Allen Hospital across the lake in Burlington, VT for three days to have a total abdominal hysterectomy (uterus, ovaries, tubes--all of it). I had a lot of friends praying for me and/or sending good thoughts out into the universe on my behalf, and I know that I am very blessed. Despite the aggressiveness of the type of cancer, it was only stage one, and had not yet spread to the lymph nodes or any surrounding tissues or organs! HALLELUJAH!! Nevertheless, it is the kind of pernicious cell that likes to return to the scene of the crime, so the doctor has prescribed six treatments of chemotherapy, mainly as a precautionary measure. I had my first session yesterday, and despite a bit of queasiness (nothing that a root beer Frosty float and an anti-nausea pill couldn't fix!), it pretty much went off without a hitch. Of course, they have me so pumped full of steroids, I don't think I'm capable of feeling much of anything right now! They say if you're going to have the fun side effects, they usually kick in 2-3 days after treatment. So I guess we'll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I am healing well, and I have a lot of support locally and across the miles. My beloved roommate used her two-week vacation to care for me right out of the hospital, I have had a small army of cooks bringing me casseroles and such for weeks, and my long-distance friends are sending cards and emails and Facebook messages and lovely gifts. So things are as good as to be expected, andI hope to be rarin' to go by the time school starts again at the end of the month.

By this point, you're probably thinking, hey, I just came here for a recipe, not all this medical drama! And I actually have one for you. Truth to tell, I have quite a few posts in the hopper (the ones I should have completed in July when all the, erm, crap went down), but I think I'll work in reverse chronological order today, just because it fits my theme. Now I don't know what the etiquette is when you're the new girl on the chemo block, but I figured bringing cupcakes wouldn't hurt to ingratiate myself with the other ladies and the staff! But I wanted to bring something somewhat healthful, and one of my friends had recently brought me some zucchini from her garden, so I made zucchini cupcakes from a recipe in Everyday Food. They turned out pretty well--anything with cream cheese frosting has to be good--but I made a few changes, as is my way, and you might want to make a few more if you try them yourself. Other than the frosting, these are actually fairly low-fat and quite healthy, especially if you use some whole grain flour and add in some extra veg, as I did. Recipe follows...sorry for the crappy cell phone pics, but they give you the idea.

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Everyday Food, May 2007)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (I used half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I doubled this, and it still needed more spice, IMHO)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (I increased this to 3/4 cups)
1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated, 1 1/2 cups (I added another 1/2 cup grated carrots for color, making 2 total cups of veggies)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I doubled this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts. In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not overmix).
Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make frosting. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread frosting on cupcakes. The frosted cupcakes are best eaten within one day.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes more than enough for 12 cupcakes)

4 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter (I used salted)
4 ounces room-temperature bar cream cheese (I swapped out neufchatel, worked perfectly)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract; beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to one day.


Anonymous said...

Wow... What a summer! I hope the treatment is tolerable and effective!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

Oh dear! I hope you are one of the lucky ones and you don't have many side effects from the chemo. Please keep us posted.

Debbie said...

You have a great attitude and hope all goes well for you with the treatments. Thanks for letting your "fans" know what is going on. Yours was one of the first food blogs I discovered and one of my favorites. Take care of yourself.

Miss Sandra said...

Bless your heart! May it all go smoothly for you. I'm so glad they caught it in time.
Wishing you good health and blissful interludes.

ps: Those muffins look yummy.

Tara said...

Sending you healing thoughts.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear you've been having a rough time (now THAT'S probably an understatement, eh?). May everyone's thoughts & prayers carry you up and over this. How do you have the energy to still blog?
Gabby in Albany

Kathy said...

Oh, Gina! I new something was up!

Many good thoughts and vibes going your way. Get better gurl!

Carroll said...

Best of luck with the Chemo - I hope it doesn't give you many side effects but if it does the job, it's worth it!

Take care of yourself.