So this may be bit of a spoiler for a few people out there but I couldn’t resist sharing. Many weeks ago I started making these dreamcatchers for my besties in LA. I was going to mail them but I am going to LA tomorrow (!!!) so I thought I would bring them instead. These dreamcatchers are made of pure muppet fur and feathers! Shhh! Don’t tell the vegans! And don’t worry if you are not an LA bestie, I plan to make tons of these so you too can have one! Oh man, am I excited to go to LA! Steve and I FaceTime just about every day. We often play this game where we secretly take pictures of each other. This picture was not a secret but I can’t wait to get myself out of the little box in the bottom left and into blue skies, palm trees and Steve-land!
In other news, over the past few weeks I’ve been meeting classmates from Integrative Nutrition to practice Health Histories (which is basically an initial consultation with a client). It’s been so much fun to connect with fellow health-focused people! Ever since I could talk, I’ve been a social butterfly. My mom tells stories of how in pre-school I used to walk from table to table to socialize. I truly enjoy meeting new people and have been told I have a gift for making people feel comfortable in social settings. So if I do indeed pursue a career as a health coach, I would finally get to use this skill which is an exciting idea to me. I’m sure this skill would also be useful as a graphic designer but ever since the cancer bomb hit, I’ve shifted my priorities and my main goal is to help/heal other people. Well, I should get some beauty rest for the plane ride tomorrow. Love to all! xoxo
So my mom and I went to Kripalu this past weekend. It was magical to be there. Check out this amazing lake! We went on several walks to the lakefront from the main building through the woods and saw many bunnies and fuzzy caterpillars! We had signed up for this Kundalini meditation workshop but when we got there we found out that you had to wake up at 4:30am both days for 2.5 hour chanting sessions! While I am not totally opposed to trying that one day, it didn’t seem like the right program for me or my mom. So we were able to switch to just their Rest and Relaxation program where you take their daily classes and do as you wish. The food is so good but I felt like I kept anticipating when we were eating next not because I was necessarily hungry but because I was excited to try what they would serve next. So that was a little distracting but being there and walking in nature truly did provide me with peace of mind. Check out a few more nature shots of the beautiful foliage!
But on Saturday I noticed that I had this sore, swollen bump on my right forearm and on Sunday I started to worry about it so my Kripalu bliss faded a little unfortunately. I thought it was likely related to a recent IV infusion location that I had a problem with recently. Today I was able to meet with my doctor who confirmed that its something called phlebitis which is inflammation of the vein caused by a blood clot. Yuck. Basically, my veins have decided that they are done with chemotherapy even if my course of treatment is not over yet. So it looks like I’ll be getting this port thing which is a catheter into your vein surgically inserted into my chest near my collarbone in the near future. Yuck again. But at least then I won’t have to worry about my veins anymore. It’s amazing how many crappy things you have to deal with in addition to the already daunting reality of fighting cancer. Last night, while trying to learn about phlebitis I stumbled on the blog of this girl named Karin who posted about having it and how she too was getting a port. I was struck by how good her writing was and noticed that this post was several years old so I clicked around to learn a bit more about her. I discovered that she had stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I always take comfort in finding out about other people who have stage 4 cancer of any kind that are still around. But then to my dismay, I clicked on the home page to see the most recent post to discover that she passed away a few weeks ago and I totally lost it. Her husband was posting about a book that they were making about quotes from her blog. I don’t know if it’s just because she passed away very recently but something about it felt so raw and sad to me. I guess I feel some kind of connection because she was a year younger than me and that she too had symptoms for only a month before she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and that scares the living daylights out of me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to never compare myself to anyone and even though I’m just beginning on my journey somehow it felt like I was looking at my life from the outside in. Her battle lasted 4.5 years and she chronicles her entire course of treatment over those years on the blog in addition to featuring particularly amazing posts. I usually don’t let myself look at blogs like this because they tend to scare or upset me but I could immediately sense that there was something in her tone of voice and what she wrote about that would be helpful for me in my own battle. She also wrote some amazing articles for the Huff Post’s Generation Why section about young adults with cancer. She seemed to focus on staying positive, expressing herself with her exceptional writing skills, and enjoying life which is what I hope to do myself. My heart goes out to her husband and family and I hope that wherever she is, she feels peaceful.
I think it’s time for an infinity hug. What’s that, you ask? I saw this couple the other day at Candle Cafe and I couldn’t help but take a picture of it.
It’s kind of saccharin but maybe in the best way possible. Kind of like Love Is cartoons? Which reminds me to share with you some jewelry I bought from my good old pals at Hullabaloo who used to sell Love Is necklaces. Why do troll necklaces and pizza earrings bring me so much joy?
I really must get to bed but one last thing! Today I went to the farmer’s market and couldn’t help but ask the meat vendors about Turkey Vultures but none of them knew of anyone ever eating them. My quest for this golden meat is not over yet. I’m considering reaching out to David Chang and Anthony Bourdain who surely would be up for a challenge like this, no? I found this other study that researched how native people of Colombia have used the Black Vulture for cancer treatment which usually involves drinking the blood of the animal mixed with wine or berry juice! “The vulture is taken, without hurting it, the vein is cut and the blood is extracted, half of a small cup is collected and is mixed with wine” This sounds like it came right out of an Alejandro Jodorowsky movie. For those of you not familiar with his films I recommend El Topo, Holy Mountain or my personal favorite Santa Sangre. Ok, I must meditate now and get to bed. Love to all! xoxo Lauren
Ok so this is absolutely insane but I had to share it with you. I was totally procrastinating by reading twitter on my iPad and I stumbled on this Pete Wells tweet about Turkey Vulture soup being a cure for cancer.
So I clicked on the link as any curious cancer patient would do. The link provided an abstract of a scientific study using terms I didn’t understand but I assumed they must mean something good if it was worth publishing. But what really got my attention was this line: “This study demonstrates for first time that Cathartes aura extract (CAE) exerted cytotoxic effects mainly on human cervical cancer cells but lacked toxic effects on non tumorigenic cells.” Excuse me??? Cervical cancer cells???? What are the odds that this crazy-sounding extract would mainly work on the form of cancer that I have? The twitter conversation about the Turkey Vulture was hilarious but I’m only half-kidding about this. Things are going quite well for me right now but I’ll take any miracle cures down the road if I need to. Who knew reading Twitter could potentially save your life! I forwarded the link to my doctor and asked him if I should have Turkey Vulture for Thanksgiving. Let’s see what he says.
Hello! So this weekend my fam and went up to the Berkshires for a wedding. I didn’t actually go to the wedding but we rented a house and we all went apple picking on Saturday! The nausea is def getting more intense post-chemo so that was kinda crappy but the fresh air and fall foliage were magical! Here I am in the groves looking pensive!
I actually didn’t sample a single apple because I am obsessed with keeping my teeth clean to prevent any more wisdom tooth infections. But I plan to make applesauce with many of the delicious apples we got. I never used to be a fan of the mushy stuff but now I’m kinda hooked. Maybe I’ll post a recipe (even with pictures) soon! Although its pretty basic. All you do is cook some apples, add cinnamon and purée. Eric and Lisa got so “high” on apples!
The foliage really was magical. It’s a sight to be seen! Here are a few misty mountain pics for you to enjoy!
My mom and I are planning to go back up to the Berkshires this coming weekend to go to Kripalu!!! We are going to a Kundalini meditation workshop. I don’t know the teachers but I’m sure I will enjoy it. Plus the food at Kripalu is amazing! I can’t wait! More soon! xoxo Lauren
I don’t watch Breaking Bad but I’ve heard so many people talk about withdrawal from the show so I thought I’d share with you my own version of “crack.” Would you be surprised to learn that it’s actually good for you? Probably not. But first, check out my new radical psychedelic scarf by the very talented artist, Oliver Hibert. I discovered his work on Instagram last week and saw the amazing scarf! It’s made of recycled plastic bottles by the soap brand Lush. They only sell this scarf in the UK but you can find it here! It was only $15 with shipping, not too bad! The stores in the US have other cool scarves too! I’ve really been into this Ahoy Matey scarf style that I saw on Scarves.net.
But back to the crack. Steve and I sometimes talk about which foods are our version of crack. For him it’s peanut M&Ms or other chocolate covered delicacies at Trader Joe’s. For me, it’s usually salty chocolate chip cookies or this amazing vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream (coincidentally made by someone named Steve). But lately, I’ve been addicted to this sweet potato or yam puree made with coconut milk, almond milk and cinnamon. Side note: sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing and I just realized that if you use yams instead of sweet potatoes for this recipe it is less nutrient dense and more crack-like delicious, go figure). But back to the recipe. I first discovered it (the yam version) at my beloved Erehwon after my wisdom tooth infection/abscess drainage and couldn’t eat solid food. So when I got home I asked Rachel to re-create it. She made it for the third time today (the sweet potato version) and so I asked her to write down the recipe so that you too can become a Psychedelic Sweet Potato (or Yam) Crackhead! Here goes:
6 medium sweet potato or yams
(depending on the amount of crackheadness you are looking for)
1 3/4 cups coconut milk (Rachel uses light)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
(I like to stay away from white sugar which was recently rebranded as evaporated cane juice to make it sound more healthy)
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (you can def add more of this! It’s anti-inflammatory, oh my!)
Prehead over to 425 F. Place 6 yams on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes until soft. Allow to cool a little and peel, skin will come off easily. In two batches, add all ingredients to blender (preferably Vitamix) and blend until creamy and lip-smackingly delicious.
What kind of self-respecting food blogger posts recipes with no pictures? I’ll work on this, I promise. Although I could easily fake this picture in photoshop by creating a 500×500 pixel document and filling it with orange color. Maybe I could even add a photoshop filter called “sweet potato pureé.” I think I have that one! Ok, I did just take some steroids for my chemo pre-meds but maybe I’ve also had too much crack today. Hahahaha. So tomorrow I’m off to chemo treatment number 8 which happens to be my favorite number. Maybe it will bring me luck that I DON’T have night sweats tonight causing me to be de-hydrated in the morning causing my veins to be difficult when they try to put the IV in. My fingers are crossed. See you on the flip side! xoxo Lauren
For those of you at the edge of your seats wondering what happened at the oral surgeon’s office this morning, he said the right side did not look infected and the left side looks good. So maaaaybe my teeth are OK? I have this very sore spot on the right side that he said could turn into an infection if it persists but as of right now its not swollen and there is nothing that he can do. Weird! At least my teeth are maybe cooperating and I can just focus on my work this week and then get chemo. Also, last night I made a really delicious soup and I wanted to share the recipe with you! Sorry but I don’t have any fancy food blog pictures of it but I promise it’s a good one!
Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Chickpeas and Tahini
3-4 cups of cauliflower cut up
1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 medium onion, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons of ground cumin seed
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the cauliflower with 2 tbsp of olive oil (or more if needed) and salt for 45-60 min until tender and lightly brown. When cauliflower is ready, sauté onions in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5-10 minutes, add the cumin and stir until fragrant, then add carrots, chickpeas, cauliflower and cover with water or veggie stock if you prefer and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the carrots are tender. Then add the tahini and lemon juice and salt to taste. I had to add a lot of extra salt at the end because I used water. Transfer to blender and pureé or use immersion blender (the vitamix makes the soup extra creamy!!!) Add more salt if needed and drizzle with olive oil to serve! Enjoy!
Hello! So you won’t believe this but I’m 90% sure that now my right wisdom tooth is infected! I guess he was feeling left out and wanted to get in on the action! So now its a battle between my teeth and which side can get infected more. I’ve already had two infections on the left side so the score is 2-1. I’m on antibiotics right now! How is this happening? This cannot continue! I’m going to the oral surgeon tomorrow at 8:45am but at least this time I am anticipating oral surgery. I hope that either I’m wrong or that it won’t be too bad. I’m not really excited about recovering from more tooth issues as I go get more chemo this week. But as always, I’ll manage. I just wish someone could communicate with my wisdom teeth and tell them to stop this nonsense. Here’s how I feel about their behavior (with a sneak peak of my mysterious hair regrowth). This photo actually goes out to Maura and Abe who were big fans of my middle of the night crazy Ativan photos:
Yesterday I went to the Stupid Cancer conference which was interesting and a little overwhelming at times. I got pretty emotional a few moments and had to fight back some tears but I’m sure that’s to be expected. There were some very inspirational speakers and survivors there. I didn’t network too much but I did make a friend named Carly who also blogs! There was a whole panel about nutrition! On the panel was a Lymphoma survivor who wrote a cookbook about how to eat on chemo and she also did Integrative Nutrition while on treatment! And there was this hilarious chef/survivor named Hans who had his stomach removed! Crazytown. But the most inspiring speaker for me was this girl named Kaylin Andres who has survived cancer three times! She was on an MTV show that documented a year of her life. She talked about the importance of sharing your cancer story and creative expression. I really wanted to talk to her at the reception but she was nowhere to be found. Here’s a great article she wrote for Huff Post. The most valuable thing I took away from the day was hearing people talk about surviving cancer multiple times or living with cancer rather than being “cured.” As hopeful as I am to be cancer-free forever, in many ways I’d rather have a more realistic outlook that allows me to live more fully in the short-term and not worry so much about what will happen or if the cancer will come back. For example, Carly who was first diagnosed 10 years ago, said that there was a period of four years when she had no cancer issues and that those years were great. I’m looking forward to having a long stretch of healthy time like that out in Los Angeles! But maybe the cancer really won’t come back based on how many delicious mushrooms I’ve been eating! Maitake, Shiitake, mmm….hahaha. After the conference, I took the East River Ferry over to my old neighborhood Greenpoint to meet some friends for dinner at Glasserie which is in a old glass factory where I had an art space back in 2005! The food was pretty darn delicious! Here’s a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from the ferry.
I was supposed to go to that potluck for Integrative Nutrition today but decided that I needed to take a break and rest. Well, I’m off to cook some yummy food and do some meditations. xoxo Lauren