Friday, July 23, 2010


Well it sure is summer out there.
I can tell by not only the oppressive heat but the streets are empty... it is vacation time!

This time of year I always start to think of Christmas, call me crazy but it is just around the corner.

It is a time of year for me to gather ideas for cooking classes and new menus and plan my fall culinary tours.

I take out a fresh new pad of paper and keep it with me, jotting down idea as they come, going through magazines & tearing out little bits of interest. Planning & scheming, getting ready for my favorite time of year~ Autumn.

This year is a bit different for me. I am still up in the air about timing for the operation and the chemo to follow. When I think about planning, my heart sinks. I can't make plans!

Every year Clint & I head to Anguilla. We love it on that tiny Island, the peace & quiet, the beautiful beaches, the warm friendly people. Most of all we love the fact that there is nothing to do. Other than relax!!! In the past it has been a time for me to read & open my mind & heart to what I can't see when I am busy!

This year I will be in Anguilla with something else on my mind & in my heart. So I am looking forward to opening myself up to heal & be strong and totally relaxed and ready for what is in store for me when I get back.

I have a weeks worth of tests & doctors appointments the day after we get back. The waiting will be over and I will begin the next step.

I am optimistic about the next step. I am ready and I am strong.

I am also excited to get away from all that is surrounding me here & now and hear the waves & watch the sunset and drink a Margarita too!!!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Getting Stronger

This week has been a good one for me... great actually.
I made the decision to go back to the gym.

I was working out regularly before this diagnosis and when I went through the chemo & radiation treatment it was almost unanimous among my doctors that I would not be able to work out. Unfortunately, they were right!

I've always loved to work out. Now don't get me wrong some days I had to talk myself into it, but once I got going~it sure felt good.

I work out with an old time trainer. His name is Marty Feldman. He was a trainer to championship boxers. It is not a fancy gym but it is a well equipped one with any size and type of weights available along with the knowledge that Marty brings to the workout.

He can make some very minor adjustment in my stance or how I am holding a weight and it makes all the difference in my workout.
He also puts together a program that targets the whole body or most in one set of exercises.

Now you can see from how I am describing this that I really do love to work out with Marty. He will be 77 this year and you wouldn't think he was a day over 50!!! Young, strong and in shape!

I felt good enough to go to the gym 5 days this week, just easing my way with lower weights and more repetitions. I felt good every day!

My last visits with the doctors convinced me that the stronger I am going into this operation, the quicker I will recover. So I am determined to get as strong as I can! It feels good, although I still need my nap in the afternoon!!!

I truly believe that we all deserve to take care of ourselves whether it be a walk or a trip to the gym. This body is the one we have.. no trading it in for a new model! I heard a saying once that went like this`" If I knew I would have this body the rest of my life, I would have taken better care of it!"
How true this is... take some time everyday just for you... for whatever makes you feel good, a walk. a nap, a magazine, soak in the tub, watering your garden.

You deserve this time, you will feel rejuvenated and calm. Live in the now with an eye to the future, a future appreciating what you have and enjoying it now, not wishing for something else.

This journey opened my eyes to all that is around me. My family, my friends, my clients, the people I do business with. There is love & a positive energy in all my relationships. I feel it everyday.
A day does not go by that I do not receive a card, emails or calls, often & still several a day, encouraging me, rooting for me, standing next me on this journey through Cancer. I can feel the support & love of everyone and it is what makes me strong, allows me to know that Yes I can do this, people believe in me! and that allows me to believe in myself!

The strength I am building day by day is not only physical but emotional & mental as well.
I am grateful for all of you following me & supporting me. I believe in the power of thoughts & words and prayer! So THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Standing straighter & feeling stronger!

My desk is filled with with stones and crystal balls, candles and sayings. It is to help me, to remind me to heal, to be strong, to give me inspiration. To connect me to the world, to myself, to what I do and who I am.

I have always loved stones and pebbles. There are piles of stones from all over the world in different parts of my home.

When my son was backpacking through Europe after high school., he asked what I would like him to bring me home... I told him stones.
Now that is so funny because he had to carry all the stones everywhere he went. He did improvise and bring me tiny pebbles from Italy & Spain and Switzerland.

Everywhere I go I pick up a stone, from the beaches of the Oregon coast to the sands of Anguilla I have stones. I am collecting a little of the world. A little bit of history, of time. They make me feel good, ground me. They remind me I am only a small part of this big world we live in.

My grandkids are fascinated by these pile of rock in my house. I tell them they are Magic stones.. keeping us safe. I do believe that too!

I walk through my home blessing it... every single room, every doorway, window, table and chair. I love my home and all that is in it. It makes me feel good, feel safe, feel strong. I am so thankful for my home, my stones, my collections.

Now that I am in "waiting mode" before I can take further tests to see how this tumor reacted to the treatment, I have time ... time to look around, time to appreciate, time to center myself and know that I will be OK.

Running a catering business, teaching cooking classes, cooking for Susan's suppers, all of these things took my time. Cancer has my time now. But in this space of waiting. I will use my time to appreciate, bless and be thankful for all that is in my life now.
For Friends, family, food & flowers. These are my rocks, these give me strength. Make me realize that my life is mine and I will be OK!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mama called the doctor & the doctor said...

Nothing.... really...
He could have said "No more monkey's jumping on the bed!"

I went to Surgeon for my appointment today... downtown Philly 102 degrees in the shade.

It was a routine appointment, I finished Chemo & radiation and now I needed to know what was next... I need a plan in my head... I need to know when I will have the operation, how long will I be in the hospital ... how long will my recovery be... how long will I have a colostomy.. how long before I have a 2nd operation to reconnect my colon... how long for me to recover from that???

Oh I had lots of questions .. I needed to have Clint sit in front of the door so he wouldn't leave until he answered all my questions printed neatly on my little index card.

Now don't get me wrong, I do like my doctor..Love would be too strong a word.. I've only seen him 3 times for maybe 10 minutes each time!
But bedside manner as they say ~ nill...
Now don't get me wrong~I would rather have a wonderful, good surgeon than a conversationalist anytime!

He answered my question .. with answers like" I am not sure... I don't know... different for everybody... you have to wait & see... come back in two weeks!!!"

Talk about frustrating! I do realize that everyone is different .. we all heal differently.. we all recover at our own pace.. and so I came home not knowing any more than when I left this morning.

I did try to joke... I wanted to know where the incision would be~ "on my abdomen" he said... up & down scar he said... to which I asked" How about a tummy tuck while you are in the vicinity?"
to which he replied"ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!" Not much of a sense of humor either!

Well tomorrow back to the Radiation doctor.. maybe she will have more info. I will just keep asking.. hopefully I will know something soon!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A little break from Cancer~Shopping with Santina

I often wonder where I get my zest for life, my unending exuberance each and every day.

Well I have to look no further than my own family.
I have a saying"it's in the blood."
You inherit certain mannerisms, a expression, a saying, a gesture, they all look familiar and you wonder why?
Look at your family, look no further than the circle of people who you grew up with and you will find your sayings, your expressions, your gestures, your words.

Last Saturday I called my mom and asked if she would like to take a ride to the New Garden's Farmers Market.... now that is a really silly question. My mother is up for anything and at any time.
She is a born shopper. The original shopper, excited, handbag clutched to her side, change purse bulging ,shopping bag in hand. She has no list ... just an unending enthusiasm for all things offered for sale.
She is not a haggler, she does not bargain, she is not on the lookout for all things on sale, she just loves to shop.
You have to understand that my Mom and Dad are in their 80's. She still cooks everyday. My parents live 1/2 block from m home. Neither of them drive. My mother has her drivers license as a form of identification.... not for driving. she hasn't been behind the wheel since my Dad taught her how to drive some 60 years ago. She knocked down a telephone pole at her first attempt at a 3 point turn. That was the end of that!
We took my Dad's license away after his 5 th time getting lost. So they are very dependent on someone else to get them out of the house.

A mere phone call will have my mother grabbing her handbag, which she carries close to her body. I sometimes joke that she must have a million dollars in it because she holds on so tight!

So we go shopping... she is up for anything... Mom , do you want to stop at the Dairy Farm... YES, mom, do you want to stop at the Antique store.. YES... mom, do you want to stop at the Farmstand? YES...she comes out of these places with bags and bags of stuff.
You would think that at least 30 people live in her house, she buys so much stuff!!

I spend half my time running back and forth to the car, nestling her packages in between the seats. Bag after bag after bag!

I took my little camera with me the day we went to the farmers market. My intention was to take some pictures of the farmers and vendors and fresh farm food available.
I was so busy following her around, taking her packages to the car, I did not take one picture!!!

My mother is a bundle of energy, 4 feet 8 inches tall , strong, determined, smart , opinionated and fun.
I've been shopping with my mother since I was a little girl.
Every Saturday we would walk to the El at 63rd street and head downtown to Wanamaker's or to China Town or to Bains for a corn beef sandwich and some Apple Brown Betty. We have shopped together for all these years and it is still fun to go out with her.

On a recent trip to Italy, our group stopped at the Auto Grill to get a coffee and use the rest rooms.. when it was time to go we couldn't find my mom. We had to look no further than the store .. she was shopping at the Auto grill!!! On a trip to Brazil many many years ago. I wandered through the local stores on a hot steamy afternoon only to be told by the shop keepers "Your mother was here... "

Some of you know my mother , she has been on most of my day trips and culinary tours. You know that she shops. On a Shopping with Susan Day we were in the Butcher's and the ladies were following her around... watching her... buying what she bought. Asking her questions on preparing foods. She is the ultimate shopper!

I think I will organize a new tour this fall "Shopping with Santina" the ultimate shopping experience!!! Her name, Santina, means little saint. I think it must mean "Little Saint of Shopping!"
It will be a day you won't forget. Bring your change purses!!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Ouch ouch & ouch is all I can say. Of course I really feel like screaming but can't do that as easily without disturbing the neighbors!

I am in pain, agony with itchiness, soreness, burning.
All I can think of are songs... Hunk-hunk of burning love, burning- burning disco inferno!

It started in the beginning of the week, just when I thought I was home free and clear. Just when I thought,"Wow I came through this pretty good" little did I know, how could I imagine I would be feeling this!

I can't sit, stand or even lay down with any sort of comfort... there is a fire down below. Gives new meaning to "Fire in the Hole"
Well at least I still have my sense of humor. Maybe that can cool me down.

Lotions potions, creams and sitz baths are my weapons, but sorry to say they are not getting the job done.
I have been avoiding pain medicine because I don't like the way it makes me fell but guess what- Percocet, Viciodon here I come!
I called the Doctor "yes, they said... this is normal." This will last at least 2 weeks, heavy radiation is still in my body doing a number on my colon and all surrounding areas, burning burning disco inferno!!!!!

I usually have a high tolerance for pain, it takes a lot to make me cringe and cry but tears come easily lately. I feel like someone is holding a blow torch to me. Fire ants crawling around. Well I guess I am giving you a good idea of how this feels and all kidding aside this is awful!

I am blistered and raw, oozing and seeping.
My mother thinks and hopes and wishes that this past 6 week treatment took care of the tumor.." maybe they got it all" maybe you won't have to have an operation" Well that is wishful thinking but this pain and burning I am going through now makes me hope that Yes they did get it all ... if not all they did a number on my insides-that's for sure!!!!

As I re-read this blog I am noticing a good number of exclamation points... I use them all the time but now I can feel the passion, the pain of my exclamations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!argggghhhhhhhh!!!

I had to vent... sorry...sometimes you just gotta yell & scream & holler and weep and that time is NOW!!!!!!