Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Me and Audrey, New Cause and Updates

With all this writing I've been doing, my gentle readers have been wondering if I was still cooking. Oh yes, I am. In fact, most of my breaks from the grind were to chop up some veggies (that is like meditating for me somehow) or make a meal. I've actually discovered another cooking show, Your Japanese Kitchen. Now, the music is incongruous and the co-host is odd (here is a sample ), but I've been learning some very interesting tips from her and improved on a dish I really enjoy. I made gyoza , Japanese pan fired dumplings, last week.. It was a simpler recipe than I've tried in the past. I also learned about garlic chives which are tasty in many things. To be fair, I wouldn't even attempt the recipes if I didn't live very close to a Japanese supermarket. I would, however, watch this show. There is something calming about her technique.

I've also had a revelation about making gravies and sauces. The television was watching me early one morning as I had left it on. On it was Chuck's Day Off with Montreal chef Chuck Hughes. He was making a roasted garlic soup using a roux made with roasted garlic, butter and flour. I had a eureka moment. I could add roasted garlic to some of my gravies and sauces. It wouldn't work every situation – like turkey, but it certainly works for beef and pork. This is a delicious combination, in fact. Also, anytime garlic can get in the body, it's a good thing. Oh, I also plan to make the garlic soup. It looked yummy.

Road Less Traveled

Well, less traveled by me. The road is actually crazy traveled all the time. It's just not one that Jon and I use. Olympic Blvd. is about ten minutes away depending on traffic. We had to go to Staples for some paper. It was then that I noticed there was a Trader Joe's a block away. A half a block from that was an enormous Ralphs supermarket. I was ecstatic. I haven't shopped at a Trader Joe's since we moved to this place four years ago. I have missed that store so very much. There are some nice foodie products like truffle oils for great prices. And then there is two buck Chuck, their lovely wine, that sells for $1.99. At least, it did the last time I visited. These stores are easier for us to get there than the Marina on weekends, and I have more options with weekly sales. This was all very exciting.

On Not Making Jon Crazy

I made a difficult decision for a net head when I was diagnosed with cancer. I decided to steer clear of websites about Appendix Cancers – especially the stories from the other patients and survivors. The reason, dear readers, is that I am a bit of a nutter. I will internalize the experience I read about and worry incessantly that I will suffer the same fate. I don't exhibit symptoms I read about. I just worry about them. I am an Olympic caliber worrier. When I worry, I don't sleep or eat – two bad things in a cancer patient. And negative stories about survival were bound to have an impact on my outlook which can be deadly. Of course, I was extremely curious about the cancer – which is formally called: Mucinous Adenocarcinoma of the Appendix and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei or PMP. Info can be found via the links alongside this blog. But I knew it would be more problematic to know more than what the doctors were telling me until I was further along in my treatment. I did it for me so I would have the best chance at survival. And I did it for the Hubs, so I wouldn't make him crazy with worry about my worrying. I also made sure that he was eating (and when I was too weak to keep an eye on that, I had Craig nag him about eating and sleeping). He's come out of all this more stressed than he'd like to admit. I think that the end of the Archive or as we like to view it, a sudden writing grant from California unemployment, has been good for him. I think he's needed the time to vegetate. He's back to his usually squirrely self. Now, I think he's ready to make a film. Actually, two. But more on that later.

A New Community and Cause

When I finally looked at the web pages about PMP, I found a whole community of people with this rare disease. I also found that most of the stories about how they were diagnosed were similar – sometimes identical – to mine. Namely, mistakes were made in diagnosing PMP. Usually, it was multiple mistakes over several months or years before the correct diagnosis was made. PMP is so rare (only 1500 cases a year in the US), that most doctors never come across it over the course of their careers. So, the failure to correctly diagnose is not a matter of negligence, it's lack of awareness. And that is frightening. I was extremely lucky to have had a primary care doc who had been trained by a doc who had been trained by the only expert in PMP in this country. Still, it took all of my symptoms aligning in her head, after three different treatments failed, to make the right diagnosis. I had the version of PMP that was very slow growing and remained localized in my abdomen. Thus, I was still stage one despite having been sick for years – long enough for the tumor to get big enough to rupture my appendix. Despite all of that, my prognosis was excellent. Others I've recently met have the much more aggressive version of the cancer. In the same amount of time, they had made it to stage 3 or 4 and it had invaded lymph nodes or other organs. Time is not the friend of this type of PMP. It was what killed Audrey Hepburn. She too went for quite some time without a correct finding of the cancer.

All of this was distressing. I wanted to do something to help raise awareness among potential patients and among doctors. The first thing I'm doing is participating in an Awareness Walk that happens to be in Philadelphia this June. More info about it can be found HERE. It's too early right now to register for the walk, but I believe you can donate. At any rate, I'll start bugging folks about it starting in May. I'm starting my training this week. I'm hoping for a lot of support. The other way we're helping the cause is by doing the thing we came out here to do. We're making a film. The documentary called 'The Silent Cancer' will begin shooting in June. Aside from the Awareness Walk, there is a conference in Philly that week featuring the doctor who pioneered the treatment for PMP and trained the doc who trained mine. I've also entered into discussions with Audrey Hepburn's sons about howthey will participate in the film. I am thrilled about this as I have been a life long fan of her work. And if you are wondering about how to support that effort, I'll be posting information about that mid-week.


Meanwhile, I've just been relayed a message from the horror film's director that we're going to start shooting in three weeks. Okay then. Jon is still doing the re-write, but what are you going to do? What I'm going to do when I get back from Trader Joe's is finish the shooting schedule. That should be ready by tomorrow. I'll have a blog page up for the film after every one has signed. My field notes from the shoot will be there, here and on my Facebook page. There sill be more photos on the field note blog though.

While all this is going on, I am back to working on the novels. I've been managing a few pages a night when everything else has gone quite. Time with my gorgeous men is my refuge from all I've gotten myself into during the day.

Stay tuned!

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