Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and I am happy to report that after being jostled about for the last month or so I have emerged a healthier and stronger version of myself.
For anyone who has experienced the effects of cancer within your family you know how it can shake any sense of stability or routine that you’ve come to appreciate. Today, on the two year anniversary of my mother’s passing I sit here and have a deeper respect for her ability to find joy in the everyday and selflessly care for her loved ones, even when her body was failing her.
After my last post noting a host of celebrations in life, I visited the doctor who informed that I had a complex mass that needed to be diagnosed promptly. Doctors were saying “this could be a normal symptom or it could be cancer, we will just have to wait for the tests.” Hearing the word cancer is a frightening experience for anyone. For me, this brought up deep (and some unresolved) memories of mom’s 6 year journey with terminal Metastatic Breast Cancer.
As I went through each day during this last month I felt as though I was living in a fog. So much seemed to be happening and changing so fast. All of a sudden I was going to the doctor daily. Information was changing. And surgery became inevitable. I cried tears of fear, tears for the unknown, for the lack of control one has in a situation like this, and tears of loneliness for not having my mother by my side throughout this scary time.
But then, one of my best friends said “what do you think she’d say?” These words brought me out of a dark place. I began to visualize conversations with my mom, hearing her words in my head. I would think about her sitting with me on the couch, making me tea and rubbing my back. Though she is not physically here, her spirit and energy will never be gone. This also pushed me to see the deep support and love that my husband, father, family, and friends provide. While no one can replace the specific comfort a mother provides they sure were able to fill me fully with with love. I end this journey cancer free and overflowing with appreciation, gratitude, and connection to my support network.
Mom’s motto was Celebrate Life! Today, on the two year anniversary of her death I vow to keep that spirit alive. Life will continue to throw us curve balls but we must take the time each day to do what makes us happy. We must find ways to fill our precious free time with things that make us truly smile and surround ourselves with people that care for us. During mom’s 6 years of various treatments, countless doctors, and constant uncertainty about the future she remained a source of positivity and strength – she celebrated life.
[Note: one year ago we got together as a family and made these steak pinwheels as a collaborative family cooking experiment which allowed us to reflect, laugh, and be together.]
The original recipe used to guide this salad can be found here.
- 1.5 cups of dry farro
- 4 cups of stock
- 3 cups of chopped green beans
- 20 cherry tomatoes – halved
- 3 handfuls of feta (adjust as desired)
- Juice of 3/4 of a lemon
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Steps and Notes:
- Rinse the farro then cook in 4 cups of stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
- Place in fridge when cooking is completed
- Cut the green beans into approximately 1 inch pieces.
- Blanch the beans
- Bring salted water to a boil
- Add the beans and cook for 4 minutes
- Remove, strain, and douse in cold water. Mix the beans with your hand to ensure all are evenly cooled.
- Set aside
- Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper
- After the farro is cooled, combine all ingredients (farro, green beans, tomatoes, feta) then add the dressing slowly while mixing well.
- Adjust seasonings as necessary
Thoughts for Next Time:
- Add something spicy such as crushed red pepper to the dressing or diced jalapenos
- Reserve a bit of dressing for folks to add at the table