Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I think the chemo is working.

It's far too early to know for certain - that scan won't be until December - but I still think it's working. During our last few conversations, Dad has been much more himself than he has was over the summer. All fired up. Full of piss-n-vinegar. Talking an unbelievable amount of trash about my ability to ski (bring it on, old man). Having more than a little bit of fun at my expense. Example: I called the house in search of advice on how to make a good (read: edible) pork gravy. Those of you who know me know I don't / can't / won't cook under normal circumstances, but I'm pregnant now and feeling like a bit of a failure in the whole wife/mother department, so I cooked a pork roast. Which I managed not to destroy. But when I took the roast out of the pan, there was all this... stuff... in the bottom. And I vaguely remembered seeing people on the Food Network stir the stuff over heat to make gravy. But beyond that, I was lost. So I did what any self-sufficient, married mother of one and a half children does. I called home.

"Talk to your father," Mom said (once she'd gotten over the shock of hearing me say I'd applied heat to raw ingredients thereby rendering them cooked). "He's the gravy man."

"Gravy?" Dad said when he got on the phone. "Sure. That's easy. Spoon off the fat. Put the drippings over heat. Add some flour. That makes gravy."

"Sounds easy enough," I said.

"Oh, there are a bunch of other things you have to do, but I'm sure you can figure that out on your own."


He was far too amused by himself to answer me when I tried to ask if cornstarch, corn meal and flour are interchangeable with it comes to gravy (answer: they're not - but I had to Google it). I think he was getting back at me for having paid for an education that left me able to interpret subtle nuances in the works of William Shakespeare but unable to prepare a simple pork gravy. And yes, he hung up without further elaboration, leaving me with my bewilderment and my naked pork roast.

Hence, I think he's feeling better. He's off from chemo this week and working crazy long hours, I think because he's covering for Dr. T, who is out of the hospital but unable to do so much as walk his dog without sending those around him into hysterics about his heart. Dad is also making plans for a trip to Charleston (Oberles of Charleston - consider yourselves warned) and is looking at vacation options for the spring. So all in all, things seem to be going quite well.

I want to take a moment to thank all the people who sent in book suggestions. Please keep them coming! Mom is already through "Sit, Ubu, Sit" and Dad won't be far behind.

I also want to post the text of an article that Laura mentioned in her comment to my last post. It's about certain cancer-fighting foods. As Laura said, it's useful information for Dad, but it's also useful for all of us to know. I've boiled down the basics below:

The article was written by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, who has been living with cancer (both in and out of remission) for years. He broke down his suggestions into food groupings and I've chosen to do the same. I have to admit, Mom has been following the bulk of this diet for years. I am sure she will relish the vindication the article provides. I'm sure the rest of us will find her smug satisfaction at having been right nearly intolerable.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best drinks:

Japanese Green Tea - known to encourage death of cancer cells.

Pomegranate Juice - drinking 8oz daily has been shown to reduce by 50% the growth of established prostate cancer.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best spices:

Ginger - fights certain cancer cells and helps slow tumor growth. Eat by grating into veggie stir-fry or steeping in boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes and drinking as tea.

Tumeric - enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy, encourages death of cancer cells and slows tumor growth. Eat 1 TBS (if you have or have had cancer - 1 tsp if you don't) daily mixed with olive oil and ground pepper before being added to vegetables, soups and salad dressings.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best vegetables:

Cabbages and Cruciferous Greens - promote death of cancer cells and block tumor growth. Don't boil them. I have taken to sauteing broccoli with smashed garlic and olive oil, then baking in the oven.

Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots and Chives - promote death of colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer cells. Need I even say it? Crush the garlic and cook in olive oil with some chives, then mix into mashed potatoes. Yuuuuummmmmmy.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best proteins:

Soy - prevents tumor growth. Drink soy milk, eat soy yogurt, add tofu to your veggie stir fry.

Fatty Fish - (Dad is going to love this - Mom, not so much). Fatty fish have been shown to slow growth of cancer cells in certain types of cancers. Anchovies (eeeeewwwwww) and sardines top the list, so long as they are packed in olive oil and not sunflower oil. Stick to small fish to avoid mercury contamination. Dad loves anchovies, so my recommendation to Mom is that she not share pizza with him on a going forward basis. Let him eat the hairy fish, Mom. You have a nice sandwich and try not to think about what your husband is gleefully gobbling up.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best fruits:

Citrus - Oranges, lemons, tangerines and grapefruit. Grated organic orange or tangerine zest is particularly good for fighting off brain tumor growth.

Berries - fresh or frozen - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries - these have been shown to inhibit tumor growth and promote death of cancer cells. I think some strawberries on angel food cake sounds just dreamy. I'm starting to get very hungry now.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber's best sweet:

CHOCOLATE!!! Dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of at least 70%, to be precise. I can say from experience, a block of dark chocolate accompanied by a hot cup of coffee is just fabulous.


MARION said...


JES said...

oh that is SUCH good news!!! keep up the good work, dr. O!! (SOMEBODY'S got to be the one to give connie a hard time! :-)