World Cancer Day

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Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day.  I imagine that most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They may have had cancer themselves, or been through this life-changing event with a loved one. Perhaps you know a neighbor, church member, or student who has had cancer.  Thankfully, with today’s advances in medicine the prognosis for cancer patients is improving. However, it all depends on catching the cancer early.

In January 2009, my father was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer. he had ignored the signs and would not see a doctor until the cancer was quite advanced.  By mid-February we said our final goodbyes at his memorial service.  Later that same year, I too was diagnosed with cancer, fortunately my outcome was different.  I knew something was wrong, but not what and went through test after test, all with negative results until an ultra-sound finally uncovered what was wrong; I had bilateral ovarian cancer.

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With my mom, in 2010 after chemo-therapy. We are both wearing teal for ovarian cancer.

Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones in that my cancer was discovered at stage 2, which is still an early stage.  Only 20% of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early state.  Yet, an early diagnosis means a world of difference and an amazing 94% 5-year survival rate.  Unfortunately, there are no tests for early detection. Instead, it is important to know the symptoms and your body.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

If you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, and they persist for several weeks then you should see your doctor for an evaluation.  Being aware may save your life or the life of another woman.

For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA).  You may also click on the link below to open a PDF file with information provided by NOCC.

http—ovarian.org-docs-NOCC14.08_PDF

Life Goes On – A Reflection

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This has been a difficult year for my family. A beloved uncle died followed by the death of my husband’s mother. She would have been 95 in June and loved to sing, laugh and tell stories and jokes.

My mother-in-law, or Ma as  she was called by her children and me, was a true Southern lady. Originally from New Orleans, she moved with her husband and five children to Maryland in the 1960’s. Ma was a devout Catholic and always dressed for church; no pants for this Southern lady.  She was the glue that held her family together and there was nothing that she liked better than to cook a huge meal for her loved ones. I was introduced to Creole cooking at her table where she often served shrimp stew, red beans and rice, and stuffed baked mirlitons (milla-ton). For your birthday, she would always cook your favorite dishes and have a homemade cake for dessert.  Her family and her faith were the most important things in her life.  She is well-loved by family and friend and deeply missed.

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I haven’t written a post for some time, as we have been dealing with all of the legal issues in settling an estate that arise when a family member dies. It can be tiring and draining at times, but writing about this amazing woman has brought a smile to my face.

Ma, I know you are in heaven with your Kermit. I’m sitting here with my Kermit and we both miss you and your “hello-ooos.”

Season’s Greetings

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Hope everyone had a joyful and blessed holiday. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend the day with family. Our day was filled with the laughter of young and old, good conversation, and delicious food. Of course, I ate too much. Started out with good intentions and small servings, but went back for more of my favorites.

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Shadow “hanging” out in our Christmas tree. One of her favorite places.

Our Christmas dinner was a pot luck with the hosts providing a glorious prime rib, mashed potatoes, gravy and au jus. Contributed sides included a twist on the classic green bean casserole – prepared in a crocked pot, maple glazed carrots with dill, and baked beans with bacon.

A holiday feast is not complete without dessert – – we had two of my favorites – – apple crumb pie and sweet potato pie. How could I possibly choose just one!  Had to have some of each.

After dinner, we unwrapped gifts while sitting around the fire. Because our family has grown so large, adults pick names at Thanksgiving for a Secret Santa exchange.  I brought “goodie bags” for everyone filled with Salty Chocolate Chip cookies (with coconut and caramel bits added to make them EXTRA yummy), Fig Walnut balls, and Coconut Chocolate Haystacks.

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Making Coconut Chocolate Haystacks at Christmas time is becoming a holiday tradition. Best of all they are super easy to make!

Ingredients and Supplies:

12 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (I like to use Ghiradelli)

14 ounce bag of sweetened coconut

Glass batter bowl – 2 quart size

Small Scoop – Tablespoon Size (I use Pampered Chef Small Scoop)

Waxed Paper

Directions:

Pour chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir chips. Return and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir well. Once more for 30 seconds, stir well until all chips are melted . If necessary return to microwave for 15 more seconds.

Slowly add coconut, breaking up clumps and stirring well after each addition. Keeping adding coconut and stirring until you have used all of the coconut. You will have a stiff mixture.

Use scoop and press against side of bowl to compress. Dispense onto wax paper and let the haystacks set until firm. Stored in an airtight container. Makes lots! About 4 to 5 dozen.

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Share, eat and enjoy!

Need a glass bowl or a small scoop? Check out the following links – –

The Pampered Chef Small Scoop #2530

Anchor Hocking 2 Quart Ovenproof Glass Batter Bowl