Good News, Bad News

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So last Friday I spent the entire day having a CT Scan, a PET Scan, and preliminary preparation for radiation. That meant multiple trips through giant donuts. The gurney is automatic and rolls you in and out like some sort of science fiction launch tube.

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After all the Scans I saw the Doc on Monday for a the run down, it goes like this… The cancer in the Lymph nodes and bones seems to be stalled to recessing, however the cancer in the lungs and liver has shown a slow growth of 1-4mm depending in the area. The lung spots are very small and not a major concern, but the liver is another story, bigger spots are raising concern although my liver function still shows normal. The plan is to switch up the Chemo and Amino Acid therapy to target the growth areas, this starts Monday, the neuropathy should desist, but will more than likely be replaced by hair loss and fatigue. My heart rate may go up, but I’m not too concerned since I live normally at the lower end of the spectrum (90/60). I don’t have to have my little chemo buddy for 48 hours after anymore so I’m pretty happy about that, and the fact that the Doc is willing to change direction for a better result makes me feel much more comfortable.

Radiation to shrink the Esophageal Tumor starts in 14 days, it will run everyday for two weeks. The hope is that the tumor will shrink enough to be able to pull the stent and allow me to eat normally…oh how I wish this will work. I miss Steak and Fried Chicken.

Since having the Stent put in I’ve been able eat a wider variety of stuff than I thought, Thai Noodles, Popeye’s Butterfly shrimp, Cheerio’s with fruit… it’s been great. I’m OK as long as I cut everything into a 2cm cube or smaller and drink something after every couple of bites. Getting the bowels back online after months of only ensure has been a little rough but seems to be evening out. The difficult part is that I have to lounge or sleep at a 30 degree angle or better, however to get a belch out (which is needed often) I have to sit up to hunched forward. So lately I’m either Cleopatra or the Thinker.

cleopatra                 thinker

Increased Calories translate to greater strength and stability, I’m looking to knock malnutrition off my list of ailments… the irony never ends, here I’ve been surrounded by and preparing food but can’t eat it. It’s a movie I swear, a little dark, but a movie for sure. The bottom line is I’m feeling stronger and better everyday I eat, my goal is to keep pushing myself toward a better quality of life. I cherish the time I get to spend with family and friends, as should we all. Many of you may not realize that you are also on the clock, it may not be as clear-cut and trackable as mine, but you don’t know when you will “cease to be” any more than I do, so please for the love of sacred life follow your passions, don’t leave things undone, travel, learn, love… fill yourself up with the interests and drives you’ve pushed down or ignored for far too long!

 

Let’s add some fruit to the grill

Making our way through fresh fruit season I recommend that you add some fresh fruit to your next grill out. Grilled fruit can straddle the gap between salad and dessert and add a interesting side to your meat, I like the fruit plain or seasoned with Chile Lime seasoning, but you could also fill the fruit pit gap with cream cheese, goat cheese, or mascarpone. I like using Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pineapple, or even pitted cherries if you have a grill basket. I start the fruit cut side down to get some marks then turn and finish on the skin side.

I like to add a couple pieces of extra fruit to the grill to keep in reserve for use later in the week. These pieces I put in the fridge for use in the food processor as salad dressing base. I put the chilled cooked fruit into the food processor and puree, add a little grape seed oil or light salad oil, and salt and pepper to taste. If you find your fruit overly sweet a little lime or lemon juice will brighten it up.

 

Post Stent Procedure, and How did I become a chef….

Esophagus Cancer

The diagram above I stole from the web shows what I had done, prior to the stent placement I was confined to a liquid diet. Great for rapid weight loss, pretty sucky for overall health. The downfalls of having a stent is that there are usually permanent and you spend the rest of your life sleeping with your upper body at a 30-45 degree angle since your esophagus no longer is able to keep your stomach bile in check… if you lay flat bile runs up to your mouth. This seems like a small adjustment, however since I’ve lost well over 100 pounds I no longer have an ass. Sleeping at 30-45 degrees puts all the pressure on my recently discovered tail bone. So currently my chest hurts from a self expanding tube, my tailbone hurts from lack of ass and all weight being put on it during sleep, and my bowels are really confused after months of a liquid diet. I go in for a PET scan this Friday to see what the Cancer is up to, no good I’m sure lol. My Oncology Doc would like to possibly radiate the Esophagus and possibly shrink the tumor in hopes of removing the stent… we’ll see. In the mean time I’ve started actually eating food, in fact had a bowl of Cheerios and fresh local strawberries this morning, I can feel strength starting to come back, however with a stomach shrunk to the size of a Costco sample cup it will take awhile to get up to mid evil feast standards of eating, but eating and juicing is good and should make for a more pleasant summer.

How did I become a chef? I am fortunate to have a mother who is an amazing cook and entertainer, and two grandmothers who both were kitchen forces to reckon with. Being the oldest of three boys with no sisters there was no such thing growing up as woman’s work. Mom was always willing to teach, and the stove called to me at an early age. I think when I was still in grade school I made the folks breakfast in bed… Scrambled eggs mixed with tang powder, parenting can be such a cruel labor of love. My Dad’s folks owned a pizza place on 60th and foster “Italian Pizzeria” where as kids we would sit in the back folding pizza boxes and get to make our own pizzas and grinders, drink Orange Crush and wear out “Hot Rod Lincoln” on the juke box. At 16 sixteen I got a drivers license and a job at Fryer Tuck’s chicken in Beaverton, there my responsibilities included peeling and hand slamming 16 five gallon buckets of fries a day and pressure frying chicken. They had a old circular no guard chicken saw that you ran the pieces through… so sketch. Once I left there I got a job at the Zoo, within two weeks I was a supervisor and had a great time selling burgers and dogs during the inaugural year of “Your Zoo and all That Jazz” and watching Mount St. Helens plume away. After the zoo I worked at a number of places around town which include;

  • The Rafters in Sellwood
  • The Rhinelander
  • Father’s
  • Belinda’s
  • 31 NW & whatever Bernard’s wife’s catering company was called..lol
  • The Treehouse in Lake Oswego
  • Domani’s
  • Nelson Brothers wine & cheese
  • Guido’s Eugene
  • Cafe Zenon Eugene
  • Casa-U-Betcha
  • Monarch Hotel

I was attending U of Oregon while working in restaurants and my folks said, Hey there’s a new culinary school opening in Portland we think you should check out. Pop’s concern was that I really wasn’t treating school with the serious I should given the cost, and he was more than willing to pay for me to get into a trade so I could support myself and call it good. I liked the idea and went for it, it was brutal, the Horst Mager Culinary Institute was the brain child of then Portland Celebrity chef Horst Mager in 1983. He wanted a CIA West, there wasn’t anything else at that time but Community College Institutional Cooking classes. I was in the third class to go through the school, we work every day up to 12 hours a day, we did prep for his seven restaurants and shortly became one of the largest caters in the city. Chef Mager brought in European and CIA chefs to instruct us, and this was before celebrity chefs, cable TV, or a Food Channel. If you didn’t snap to it, you got left behind, these guys make Gordan Ramsay look like a teddy bear. For whatever reason I excelled and graduated top of my class, I thrived on the combination of pressure and creative demands…. and still do.

Now I own a catering company and I am family partners in a brew pub, it can work out if you’re willing to WORK it out!

 

 

 

 

 

After Stent

The procedure went well, I now have a tube where my esophagus was. This will allow easier swallowing and eating soft foods, however I have to sleep sitting at a 45 degree angle or better, which will take a little getting used to. Since I have a stent there is no longer a valve or flap separating my stomach bile from rushing up the pipe and causing major reflux issues if I were to lay flat on my back, so 45 degrees it is. The next phase is to get some scans and see about radiation on the esophagus. I requested if possible to be able to eat steak again, so both my oncology doc and GI surgeon got together to come up with the stent/radiation plan, I could not be happier with my care, they listen and try to make it happen. I looking forward to increased energy from getting more nutrients. 

I cannot state loud and strongly enough about the support I have gotten, it literally brings me to tears. Friends, family, and community have all shown me more love than I deserve. You all make me want to fight harder and squeeze out more life from this ride! Thank you doesn’t say enough, I am indebted to you all!