Precious Time

This journey with cancer has been full of contradictions. I’m nearing the end of almost five months of chemotherapy. I can’t wait to be done with this part of the journey, yet this time has been valuable and there is much I want to do while I’m still relatively weak. I’m learning that I’m able to access parts of me, new thoughts and feelings, and see openings for change I never imagined. There is at once a clarity and an ongoing exploration of who I am in this, most vulnerable state, that is precious and not to be missed.


For one, this process has emboldened me. I walk around with my bald head and about six remaining eyelashes, looking like what I used to be afraid of . . . .but no more.  We are all so much more than meets the eye and we are all, I’m sure of it, capable of embracing and managing far more than we think.


Since chemo will come to an end, thankfully, maybe I can learn how to access this realm even when I’m physically stronger. That is my hope. Change, even when you see the path forward, doesn’t necessarily happen quickly. Surgery and ongoing treatments in the new year will probably afford me plenty of time to continue this introspection and growth and you can all remind me of this post when I’m sick and tired of being sick and not so circumspect!


This time of relative isolation and fewer outside demands has also afforded me plenty of time in the kitchen and I’ve felt (surprisingly) creative. I’ve developed dozens of new recipes and because of my chemo-altered tastebuds many of them are bright and spicy and strongly flavored, cutting through the chemo funk!


Those new recipes and hundreds more are in the Seasonal Recipe Collection. A subscription to the collection also makes a nice gift to any cooks, or aspiring cooks. . .


Spicy Cabbage & Sausage Fried Rice


This is a simpler fried rice than my typical ones–no eggs, no soy or fish sauce–just ginger, garlic, pepper, cabbage, pork and rice, basically. It’s extra pretty with red cabbage but delicious with red, green or savoy.


Serves 4


2 tablespoons oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, white and green parts, separated, all thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper corns, ground in a spice grinder or mortar (or scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a pinch though the Szechuan pepper is really what makes this so good)
4 ounces pork sausage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes or 1 Serrano chile, minced
6 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups cooked rice, cold (fresh, hot rice is too sticky for fried rice)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, for serving


Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the onion and scallion white parts and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, Szechuan pepper, hot pepper and cook for another minute. Add the sausage and stir well and cook for about 2 minutes, still over high heat. Add the cabbage and a few generous pinches of salt and stir well. Cook for 3 more minutes. Add the rice and mix in well and cook until heated through and crisping in places. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in cilantro and scallion greens and pass lime wedges and serve immediately.

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String


I marvel at human resilience and kindness. Defying all odds people exhibit joy, gratitude, and generosity wherever I look. I remember last winter buying a Street Roots collection of poetry that, without irony, was titled Gratitude and filled with words and artwork by people without homes.

I also marvel at human capacity for normalization. How did I go from, “Oh god, cancer!” to “This type of chemo is so much easier to take, and I look forward to surgery.”  And I  do not mean to compare being homeless and having cancer, in my case with all the privileges and resources imaginable. . . Being sick has just made me see those around me with challenges, small and large, more vividly.

Thanks to this easier type of chemo I’m also more fully enjoying the beautiful community I have in my medical team. One of my chemo nurses is Austrian American and has been looking for a good spaetzle recipe and technique. So we’re having a good time at chemo every Thursday talking about my spaetzle tests and what technique (cutting board and knife) works best. Recipe to follow here once I can taste more fully again!

I’ve taken to bringing in cookies to my oncologist and nurses who work to heal me every week. Food will always be the center of joy and camaraderie for me. It’s healing for me to be able to talk about and share these treats and ideas with the people whom I happen to spend a lot of time with these days, people I never imagined I would encounter, other cancer patients and medical folks alike. I love people and I am so grateful to the dozens and dozens of you all who are making this journey joyful and humorous much of the time.