Some tips I’ve learned along the way – dealing with Breast Cancer.

I am a Breast Cancer survivor, warrior, patient, person that has been through a lot. I don’t like any of those terms. What I do know is I could not have done it without the help of friends, family, medical professionals and people who I did not know then but now consider family. Paying it forward and giving out tips and tricks on how to deal with cancer seems like the right thing to do. It is the least I can do for this wonderful life that I will do anything to keep enjoying.

July 2017, at my daughter’s high school graduation party, I felt a lump. A very distinct, like someone had stuck a marble in my bra kind of lump! How come I had never felt that before? How could I have missed it? There was no question, this was bad. My feeling was not “Oh no, I have a lump”, it was “Oh no,I have cancer!” I knew immediately what it was and that it was bad. 

The mammogram showed nothing, but they could feel it so they knew it was there. So we moved on to an ultrasound. The doctor looked at the screen and turned to me and said “I am sorry, I don’t need a biopsy to tell me this is cancer.” There it is are never the same again.  

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all you need to do right now.


So, on my kids first day of school, I had a double mastectomy/reconstruction, followed by 12 weeks of Taxol and 14 Herceptin infusions, ending in October 2018. I had Stage 1 Triple Positive Breast Cancer and it had not reached the lymph nodes. No family history and I had never missed a mammogram. They told me if I had not found it when I did, I would have been Stage 4 in about six weeks. The rate of growth measured that it had only been there about two weeks when I found it!

When you are diagnosed with any kind of Cancer you freeze...  What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are a few tips I learned when going through Breast Cancer. I hope they help, because Cancer Sucks.

There are so many more stories to tell: The 4 ports because that was a disaster; baldness, pretending to feel okay; starting a new job that introduced me to LIVESTRONG; wonderful friends who convinced me to join them in starting a Pan Mass Challenge Kids ride to raise funds for Dana Farber Cancer Institute; finding out who your true friends are;  Shannon, who I barely knew and who showed up at my door with presents and a shoulder to cry on; and many more.

I am a very lucky person, I have wonderful family and friends who rallied around me and got me through it. Someone once told me “It’s the club you never wanted to join, but you are in it now and you are not alone and we can do this, if we support each other!”  Now it is my turn to do the same for the people in my life. 

I am a different person, a better person. I know I should say survivor but I still deal with it every day, the PTSD, neuropathy, lymphedema, Tamoxifen and its side effects. Honestly, to say I HAD cancer seems weird. I don’t think I will ever feel that it is truly gone. But my motto the whole time was and still is “Fake it till you make it” and that is what I do for my children, so they don’t have to worry about all this.

Don’t quit. Suffer some now and live the rest of your life a champion

-Muhammad Ali

When you are diagnosed with any kind of Cancer you freeze...  What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are a few tips I learned when going through Breast Cancer. I hope they help, because Cancer Sucks.

Now we are coming up on the 5th anniversary of my diagnosis and once again a friend asked me for some tips on how to deal with it all because her friend has just been diagnosed. It really just never ends.

I had made a list of little tips that I would give someone if they asked but now I am just going to put it up here for everyone to see to make it easier. I have created a page on my blog Sunday Chefs that contains some other tips called Cancer Support. I would love to hear any tips that anyone else has.

I will say that the journal was the most practically helpful. Whether it is this one that I made … You Can Do This My Friend, a breast cancer journal and planner to keep your thoughts, questions and life in order or any old notebook that you want to use, it was a lifesaver. You are so tired and overwhelmed, it was so good to be able to look back over and write down questions to ask at appointments and to have everything in one place. I highly recommend that everyone get one, for any health issue they may be dealing with.

Note: 50% of proceeds from You Can Do This My Friend, a breast cancer journal and planner to keep your thoughts, questions and life in order are being donated to Mass General Cancer Center.

Breast Cancer and The Black Apron

If you know, you know…if you don’t, follow along.

This is not my usual food blog post, so if it does not apply to you, feel free to skip this. But unfortunately, if Breast Cancer does not affect you personally, more than likely it will affect someone you know at some point and this is a good tip to pass along.

As many of you may know, 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Triple Positive Breast Cancer and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction followed by 14 months of chemo/infusions. There are certain things that you learn along the way, that you feel compelled to share with people and “The Black Apron” was a biggie for me.

When you get a mastectomy there are drains that need to be dealt with. These drains have weight to them and with them hanging, there is pulling and they get in the way and it is very unpleasant/painful. The doctor will give you a special sports bra looking contraption with hooks to hang the drains from and it will do the job. Lots of people suggested sweatshirts with pockets, specifically zip up hoodies, because you can’t lift your arms over your head. These zip up hoodies have almost inner pockets that are a result of how they are put together and these kind of worked.

One day I was looking for something and found an old black waitress apron from my bartender/waitress days and it had two pockets. I thought maybe if I wore that and put the drains in the pockets of the apron it might be more comfortable. It was life-changing. It was very inconspicuous and slimming and laid perfectly for the drains to reach. If I wore a long shirt over it you couldn’t even tell I had drains at all. In addition, I didn’t look huge from them swinging in front. But the most important thing, is the pain and unpleasantness was diminished so much. Not gone of course, but so much better.

The day I walked into the plastic surgeons office for a check up, he was instantly confused. Why did I look like my drains were gone? He loved the idea of the apron and said that he would recommend it to all of his patients. I am not the first person to come up with this, I have heard other people talk of it since, but it is my go-to gift when I hear someone has to have a mastectomy. I found this one Amazon from Boharers and it is very inexpensive.

If there is one thing I have learned is, it is that we are all in this together and we need to share our knowledge.

If your path demands you to walk through Hell, walk as if you own the place.


Cancer changes everything

My story..

There is a reason for this blog. I always said I wanted to write a cookbook of all the family recipes for my three daughters. I imagined it would be a fun present at a bridal shower or housewarming. To show a more personal side of those who came before them. The memories of our loved ones live on in these little bits of history. I have been putting recipes aside for years and worked on it here or there, because I always felt I had the time to get it done. Then things changed. Cancer happened.

Continue reading “Cancer changes everything”