Thursday, February 13, 2014

Safe friends

Throwback Thursday: theme
Big Ugly glasses
That's baby Josh and I am still wearing maternity clothes
A year later and I am thin again

Later..lost the perm but still have hideous glasses
What is a safe friend? One that an immuno-compromised individual doesn't have to worry about spreading contagion. As I am constantly exposed to young children, each in contact with a different pool of possible disease carriers, I can not be a safe friend though at the moment, I seem to be disease free.

Last night at our cooking class, there was a young woman whose young child has leukemia. The treatment is brutal: three years of chemo with one year left. Her toddler was diagnosed just as she gave birth to his nights in the hospital with a very ill child while trying to nurse a newborn. What hell! She said that if someone could predict this would happen to her family, she would say that it would be impossible to deal with that but deal she must. On top of it all, her husband is frequently gone for work. So his future looks bright but he is severely immuno-compromised. There is no visiting kid friendly places. The worst would be a hands-on-museum. There is no visiting kids, not even for the healthy little sister lest she get sick. The few times they are out in public, in places that kids would be rare, they are under strict orders not to touch anything so they sit stiff as sticks afraid to move. They do play outside. She comes from a place where polar vortices do not phase her. And all that bundling up keeps infections at bay as there is no hand to hand contact. But it is a lonely existence for both her and her children. They have a very short list of 'safe friends'. Hearing this, my favorite fellow student Hope, the woman with stage 4 BC and almost one year old twins, asked to be her safe friend as she too is immunocompromised due to being on brutal chemo right now. They live in the same community (as do most of our class, the same one as Shanna's..Leukemia Mom lives less than a mile from Shanna). Hope's babies haven't received any live vaccines as it would be too dangerous for her to care for them afterwards.

What crap people have to deal with! But they seem to do it cheerfully and gracefully.

Hope has a break coming up in her chemo. On top of her bucket list is to swim with dolphins which she will do in a few weeks though I can't think of a worse activity for those with weak immune systems (dolphin pen full of dolphin poop..third world sewage system exiting into the nearby ocean). I will lend her my underwater camera to document this. She is excited and I will get to meet her precious twins.

The theme of our class was alternative sugars. Presumably sugars are especially bad news for cancer patients as cancer cells feed on them even more than normal cells. Evidence for this is that metformin, an anti-diabetic drug, lowers glucose levels and seems to stunt cancer growth (especially in TNBC). But fake sugars are bad and most of us love sugar. So the trick is to use sugars that deliver a lot of taste per gram so less is used. So low fat, low sugar caramel corn, blonde brownies made with apples, chocolate brownies made with excess of cocoa, little sugar and no fat and a tasty granola made from chia seeds, hemp seeds, cranberries, lemon and ginger.

Yesterday we had a low of minus 20. We went for a few years without the temperature dipping below zero and now almost every day is. But it is warming up just in time for Steve and me to leave. 

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