Saturday, October 29, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month...And Boy Am I AWARE!

I've had yearly mammograms since the late 1990's and never once have I had so much as an iffy mammogram.  That was until now.  On September 26th I had my routine mammogram and didn't give it another thought after leaving the mobile  mammography unit.  Then I received a letter the first week of October saying that they saw something in the digital images that needed further investigation.  This 'something' was seen in two views so I didn't need a new mammogram, I needed to come in for an ultrasound.

The earliest appointment they could give me was two weeks away.  That was the longest two weeks of my life, well other then the last two weeks of each of my pregnancies...those were very long two week periods.

During this two week period I became hyper-aware of how a tiny lump in my breast could take over my life as I knew it.  I tried to calm my mind by doing research on the specific description of their findings, "Scattered fibroglandular densities and focal asymmetry seen in the upper outer quadrant of the left breast. They compared it to previous mammograms and there were none of those observed. The right breast has no suspicious masses, calcification's or other abnormalities." My reasearch gave me no comfort because I learned that other women who had these same findings had mixed results when they had their ultrasound performed.  I slept very little because I could not get my mind to shut down.  Being so tired didn't help things because now I was so tired it was more and more difficult to keep my mind busy on other things all day.

I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to get my house in order, to get my ducks in a row.  I thought about all the things that I needed to do, just in case I needed to undergo cancer treatment. I am self-employed so I needed to think about shutting things down for a while because it isn't the type of business that someone else could just run for me.  I currently do all the banking and bill paying so I thought I would need to write these things down so my husband could handle them if I was not up to the task.  I needed to make arrangements for our dogs if I was going to be out of town getting surgery or treatment.  And I felt terribly guilty that I may not be here for my grandchildren.

That was probably the worst.  My grandchildren lost their paternal grandmother a few years ago and at that time I promised them I was going to live a very long time.  I know that isn't a promise I could guarantee, but unlike their other grandma, I take very good care of my health, so unless I was hit by a bus while crossing the street, I had pretty good odds of living a long life.  So to calm their fears of their nanny leaving them, I made that promise.  Now I was faced with the sad truth that I might not be able to keep it.  But I was determined to try.

I pondered the thought of going through cancer treatment.  I knew from others that it would be an awful experience, but I feel that I am strong enough to do it.  Strangely I felt that this was probably the best time in my life for such a crisis to hit because I felt at my strongest of my entire life.  I can do this, I thought.  It would not be easy, but with the support of my wonderful husband and family I knew I could do it.

The day finally came for the ultrasound.  When I arrived at the imaging office, after a two plus hour drive, they took me right in.  I was given one more mammogram of the left breast, but this time they did a special type of compression image.  Then I was told to wait for the doctor to view the images and and let her decide if I needed the ultrasound as well.  A short time later a sweet tech took me into another room where she performed the ultrasound.  Then I was left again to wait for the doctor to look at the ultrasound, then she would come talk to me.  Within 10 or 15 minutes the doctor came in and did the ultrasound again herself.  She also did a physical exam.  Then she told me that I was going to be just fine.  She said the image they thought they saw was simply bunched up tissue.  Once they compressed that specific area the image went away.  The ultrasound confirmed that nothing was there, and her physical exam gave yet another confirmation...I was going to be fine, I did not have a lump -no cancer!

I felt such relief!  I asked her if she was sure.  She assured me that she was and that I should just keep up my annual mammograms.  I cannot tell you how relieved I was.  I didn't have to break my promise to my grandchildren. I didn't have to make my husband take on all the tasks that I do in our partnership. I didn't have to burden him with being the strong one for me. I didn't have to undergo treatment that would surely make me feel awful before I got better. I didn't have to put my business that I love on hold.  I didn't have cancer!

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Peach Bread Pudding Recipe

I especially love baking in the winter months.  It makes the house smell so delicious and the oven creates passive heat in the kitchen.  Lately I have been baking lots of fresh breads...I am a carbaholic!  But even as much as I love fresh baked bread, there are times when a part of a loaf will go stale.  I hate to waste good bread so I slice this bread in to sandwich bread thickness and store it in Zip-Lock Freezer Bags in the freezer.  When I have enough to make 3/4 of a pound of bread (equal to about 12 slices of sandwich size bread) I thaw it out and make Bread Pudding.

One of my favorite versions of bread pudding is Peach Bread Pudding, and here is my recipe.  If you don't like peaches, you can use raisins, pears, or cooked apples in its place.  I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Peach Bread Pudding

You will need:

About 12 Slices of White or Wheat Sandwich Bread. Stale breads are best for this recipe. 
**If you don't have any stale bread you can buy an inexpensive loaf of sandwich bread at the grocery, let 12 slices sit out on a dish on the counter for half a day, rotating the pieces periodically so they get equally stale.  The stale bread absorbs the wet mixture much better.

9 Large Eggs

1 Cup of Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Low Fat Milk -12 oz

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/2 Teaspoon Orange Zest (I use McCormicks Ground Valencia Orange Peel)

3/4 Cup Diced Peaches packed in water, drained. (* you can replace this with equal amounts of canned pears or  apples, drained, or even raisins).

1.5 Liter Glass Loaf Pan (or equivalent size baking dish)

Butter Flavored Cooking Spray


Shallow Baking Sheet to catch any overflow while baking.

How to Prepare:

Place oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl tear bread slices into approximately quarter size pieces.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, and eggs.

Pour diced peaches on top of bread pieces, then pour egg mixture over the bread and peaches, gently blend with a large spoon just until all pieces of bread are wet. Do Not Over Mix!

Spray the baking dish with a butter flavored cooking spray.  Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish, sprinkle a bit of Cinnamon on the top.  Drape the top of the dish with a foil tent, making a few small holes in the top, allow the foil to sit atop the dish but do not press the foil against the sides, it is only used to keep the top of the bread pudding from becoming too dry or too browned during the baking process.  Place the dish onto a flat baking sheet with a lipped edge to catch any spill-over fluids.  Place in the center rack of the oven.  Bake for 60 minutes.

Remove the foil tent and bake another 15 minutes.  Top should become a pretty golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool at at least 10 minutes before serving.  This dish is wonderful all by itself, but it is even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side :-)  Not ready to eat it now? After it has completely cooled, cover the top of the baking dish with a cover or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator...bread pudding is wonderful hot or cold!

I hope you enjoy my Peach Bread Pudding as much as we did.  I would love it if you would share what you thought of the recipe when you made it.

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