A few friends and followers have commented on my lengthy absence from this space. That makes me smile! I will try to explain. This post has been writing itself in my head for the last 8 weeks. I’ve thought of every clever way I could possibly choose to tell this story. You know….these are the best of times and the worst of times and life is what happens while your busy making other plans, kind of stuff.
In early July, I accepted a sales position with a fantastic company as a Regional Sales Manager. I have represented many wonderful brands over the years, and I am thrilled to now be working with the #1 popcorn company – Angie’s Artisan Treats! The products are sold in hundreds of stores across the country, in brightly colored bags, with BOOMCHICKAPOP(®) written across the front. I am so thrilled to have joined this team of wonderfully talented, creative and hard working folks. I am truly honored and blessed. I cannot wait to come up with a few popcorncentric recipes, someday soon.
On July 7th, I traveled to Denver to join my sales team for a 2 day fall/winter planning session. Though my start date was officially July 20th, I did not want to miss out on the learning’s shared at this meeting. I immediately felt comfortable with my team! We were scheduled for a full day of planning and an evening of fun at a Rockies baseball game! During an afternoon break, I noticed an email from Dave, asking me to give him a call. Since I was in a cellular dead-zone I replied, asking him to let me know what was up via email. I received the following message: The doctor called with the results of my biopsy. It’s not good. My face went white, my hands were shaking, and my throat fell through my body, down to my knees. Keep in mind, I am in a meeting room with 6 people I’ve just met, who are counting on me to help them accomplish company goals for the remainder of the year. My boss noticed my rapid change in demeanor asked me if everything was “ok”. I said no. I told him that Dave had a biopsy on a little lump on his neck, July 2nd, and he had just emailed me that it was not ok. We found a phone that worked and I called Dave. He let me know he was seeing the doctor the following day. I made the decision to head back to Seattle. My team texted Uber, a car arrived quickly, and I managed to get to the airport in time for a 6pm flight. By then, the tears had started and they would not stop! I got to the Alaska airlines desk and told them I had a family emergency and absolutely needed to be on the next flight. The very kind agent got me a seat, listened to my story, told me everything would be ok and sent me off with a full box of Kleenex. I’m really sorry I did not catch her name. I hope she knows how much I appreciated her kindness and ability to say the perfect things to me at that time.
We got to the doctors office the next morning, a few minutes early. Me with my notepad and Dave with questions. We heard the words: cancer, radiation, chemo, surgery, recovery, treatable, curable. It’s not that we had never heard those words before, it’s that those words were now on my husband’s chart, along with his name, social security number and birthday. My husband Dave, the guy who had never spent a night in a hospital; except at my bedside, never broke a bone and had one or two stiches once or twice in his entire 58 years. We asked and received answers to many questions, and left with many more. We would not see this doctor again, as she and our primary care doctor, had arranged for us to meet with a doctor who specialized in Dave’s particular type of cancer. We spoke with our primary care doctor and confirmed it would be ok to wait to see the specialist after our week at the beach, which we had planned as my “between jobs vacation”.
With a July 24th appointment confirmed and our concerns of immediacy laid to rest, we put all our energy into our upcoming week on the Oregon Coast! We needed the rest, relaxation and diversion! We had stayed in the same rental house in Cannon Beach for over 15 years. Sadly, it is no longer available. We found a fabulous pet friendly house a little further south in Rockaway Beach, right on the beach and next to an awesome restaurant! I cooked two things during our vacation: baked potatoes to go with steaks Dave grilled and blueberry muffins, with berries from our garden. Dave and I ate every fish / shellfish available in it’s finest fried form, tried numerous offerings of the Oregon Coast’s best chowder and drank every IPA we could find. It was glorious. Cooper, our younger dog had never seen the ocean. He is fearless and adventurous and, as predicted, ran straight into the waves with total abandon!
The best calamari either of us have ever eaten was at the restaurant next door to the house we rented in Rockaway Beach. We had calamari and oyster shooters 5 nights in a row! Dave also had a dang good burger and I enjoyed a few fabulous salads at the Sand Dollar Restaurant. We sat at picnic tables on the patio with Cooper and Jasper tucked under our feet.
The fried oysters and clam chowder from Old Oregon Smokehouse were also a hit!
The last two weeks in July included a trip to Minneapolis for the first days of my job, and a Sunday afternoon gig for Dave’s band: The Fentons. The trip to meet the rest of the folks at my new company, and and the gig all were fabulous. I finally read the manual on my year old camera, and managed to record The Fentons 60 minute performance, flawlessly. After the gig, Dave had to let the band know of his condition. With surgery pending, decisions had to be made and scheduled gigs had to be cancelled. It was one of the hardest conversations he has ever had with the 4 guys who have been friends for over 35 years. We also made the decision to delay our long overdue bathroom remodel that we had scheduled for September. We talked about cancelling my Paris birthday trip, but decided we would wait to see what the specialist had to say.
We met with the doctor who would take over Dave’s case on Friday, July 24th. We heard more words, conditions and scenarios that we had never, ever considered alone or in the combinations suggested! Further tests were scheduled, including a PET scan, to possibly determine the source of the cancer. Surgery to remove the tumor as well as the suspicious tonsils, would be scheduled soon after. On the way home in the car, Dave told me he was done, if he could no longer eat or sing. I assured him, that would not happen.
Dave had surgery on Friday, August 7th at 7:40a.m. His tonsils were removed robotically, and numerous tissue samples were taken to be biopsied. Though the PET Scan indicated the source of the cancer was likely a tonsil, subsequent pathology did not confirm it. Dave has been an amazing patient. He has not complained once and he has bounced back quickly. The removal of the tumor on the right side of his neck, left him with a six-eight inch incision. He has lots of ideas to explain the resulting scar, once this is all behind us. Dave will meet with the radiologist and the oncologist next week. After that, the treatment plan will be determined. The waiting is the hardest part.
I titled this post…. “and I’d like that pureed” Part I. I’m guessing you might be wondering how this story and how this food blog are going to relate! Dave was instructed to eat only soft food after his surgery on August 7th. When the doctor told me he would be required to eat soft/pureed foods, I totally panicked. You don’t recover from major surgery eating ice cream and mashed potatoes, unless you’re 4 or 5. Additionally, what was I going to eat during his recovery, that would not make him go crazy if he could not have it. I looked at the menu the hospital provided. YUCK. Poorly seasoned, tasteless food only gets worse once pureed. So, as I always do when I need to learn anything, I got on line. I read, researched, dug my Nutri Ninja out of the cupboard and started cooking in preparation for his home coming on Monday, the 10th. I will share my recipes, ideas, and shortcuts with you via Part II of this post.
Have a wonderful evening,