Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Breast Cancer, Blogging and a Coffee Cake

Dealing with breast cancer is a pretty good reason for not blogging, don’t you think?

Actually, I’ve been debating with myself and others for several months about whether I should “go public” about my breast cancer.  Mr. Rosemary and I are both pretty private people when it comes to intimate matters, especially matters of health.

When I posed the question aloud at a small family gathering about whether I should shift the focus of my blog, my brother-in-law Mike, who’s usually pretty reticent, and pretty private himself, said, without missing a beat, “Do what YOU want to do.”

I’ve missed writing here.  And I’ve still managed to cook and try new things.  But my heart hasn’t really been in writing about the food  I’ve made -- or taking respectable photographs -- because my mind’s been so much more on other things.

Why can’t I blend the two?  Of course, I can.

When I started this blog, it was a place for me to write -- about anything.  Since I like to cook and to experiment, and I collect recipes and cookbooks like a fiend, it seemed only natural that my writing drifted towards food.

My story is not unique. Tens of thousands of women (and men) have had to deal with breast cancer. And thousands have experiences far more troubling than mine.  I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Still, I feel compelled to write about my journey.  But where to begin? I’m well into my treatment and it’s been several months since my first suspicious mammogram. 

I might as well dive right in.

What an education I’m having!

Here are just some of the things I’ve learned (in no particular order of importance):

  • ·         Gratitude
  • ·         Humility
  • ·         The power of music, prayer and a good read
  • ·         The importance of protein and handwashing
  • ·         The value of research
  • ·         The cost of medical care
  • ·         The blessings of distraction
  • ·         The appeal of yoga
  • ·         The agony of waiting
  • ·         Simple pleasures
  • ·         The incredible generosity of friends and strangers
  • ·         It’s okay to cry. It's also okay to get angry.
  • ·         (But you better get over it.) 

Most importantly, I’m learning what’s important – and what’s not.

It’s pretty scary to “go public” but my hope is that maybe somebody will learn something, especially me. I feel like I'm standing before my sixth grade class making my first speech.  Maybe you can feel my sweaty palms.

One important lesson I’ve learned is that there are plenty of silver linings about going through cancer treatment. They're platinum.

One of the best silver linings is the good food people have brought us.  How do I know so many good cooks? From chicken noodle soup to apple pie to ginger chicken to chili to French toast casserole. 

This past Mother’s Day, we “hosted” a brunch. I use the word hosting loosely because it was merely at our home. 

Everybody else brought the food.  My sister-in-law Diane brought a scrumptious coffee cake.  It’s a very simple cake, one my non-baking self has made several times since easily.  I want to try making it with a layer of fruit as Diane suggests, but I’m hesitant to mess with my success. 

I did alter the recipe once and added almond extract and almonds to the cake. It was okay, but I'm sticking with the original. (I even took a cake to my cancer center to share with the staff and other patients.) They loved it, too --all gone.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
For the cake:
1 cup oleo or butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Batter:  Cream the butter and sugar, then add the sour cream, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Add the dry the ingredients and mix well.
For the Filling: Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease Bundt pan or springform pan and add half the batter. Top with the filling. Carefully spoon the rest of the batter on top of the filling to cover. Bake 50 – 60 minutes, until lightly golden.

Optional: Place very thinly sliced apples or peaches and place on top of the filling. May need to bake longer if you add the fruit.
Blogger's Note:  If you know someone who's been through or is going through breast cancer treatment, I hope you'll share this blog with them.  Bloggers love comments, too; it's like mother's milk.


  1. And here you are. One spectacular you! Missed being with you at lunch yesterday. Thinking of you today, and wishing I was eating that coffee cake. lol Sending love your way, Mary

    1. Thanks, Mary. Missed you, too. Spectacular? I'm not sure. You do what you gotta do. Much easier with friends like you.

  2. How brave of you to share your experience.
    I am wishing for health for's not easy having something..your mind does become focused ..this is such a good continue to share recipes and open makes the mind wander and focus on something else..if only for the briefest of moments..a sidestep.
    Take care.I will be reading.. I was a new follower of yours.Happy to see you back.

    1. Good to be back. Once I've started blogging again, there just might be a floodgate. A great way for me to vent.

  3. So sorry to hear what you've been struggling with! I've been wondering where you were, and figured you had a really good reason for not posting. Cancer is tough -- my mom died from it (lymphoma, although at the end she had breast cancer too -- probably her lymphoma spreading). I can understand some of the pain, both physical and emotional, you're experiencing. Takes a lot of grit to deal with what's on your plate. Good luck. And thanks for sharing this recipe! Very nice, and cooking is good therapy, isn't it?

    1. Thanks, John. Cooking is good therapy. Comforting to use my hands, be creative. A great distractio. Plus, I'm paying even more attention to what I eat. (Mr. Rosemary's not too picky.) You know that no brush with cancer is easy, manageable, but not easy.

  4. Hi Rosemary, I've missed you and your humour and your recipes and your take on life. I'm so glad you are back in spite of everything. I like your list (in no particular order). It could apply to many difficult situations. I wish you love and luck, Hester x

    1. Thanks, Hester. More to come. It's not going tobe as difficult as I though to marry cancer and food, after all. (And there's plenty of humor, don't you worry. I forgot to add that to my list.) xxx's back.

  5. So glad you are writing again. Missed you! Peg

    1. I hope I don't run out of steam -- or bore others. There's lots I want to say, Peg.

  6. Very brave of you to share, but it is a good thing. It is healing for you. Wishing you love with a big hug.

    1. Yes, it is healing, Susan. I feel like a bit of a weight has been lifted -- just by venting. Thank you for commenting.

  7. Been there myself, Rosemary! I was only 42 when I got the diagnosis. That was over 20 years ago. Wishing you the best treatment and prognosis!

    1. Far too young! But I assume you've won the battle. You know what it's like -- and how cooking can be delicious therapy!

  8. Sorry to hear that you are having to go through with this.

    There are so many "rules" out there about what should or shouldn't be in a blog and how a blog should look and what makes for good content. To me the only rule should be that a blog contains what you want it to contain. The only thing I ever want my blog to be is authentic. So do what feels right.

    Now have some more of that delicious cake.

    1. You're absolutely right! I only want to be genuine, too. I'm not out to make money or a name. It's an outlet. I love to cook, love to write. Best of both worlds. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Hi Rosemary! Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles. But I'm so glad you are back and are sharing with us once again. Boy, some days I just don't feel like blogging...and for no reason. So I can just imagine how you feel about it, too. But I hope you'll find cooking and talking therapeutic and you'll continue to share. Would love to be sitting around the kitchen with you, enjoying a slice of this beautiful cake!

    1. That would be lovely, Anne! I have continued to cook -- although maybe a bit more modestly -- throughout this process. It's remarkably freeing to now want to talk about it.

  10. A big hug and welcome back as you've been missed. Unfortunately, I've had too many friends and family that have dealt with cancer. It is not easy but I think your positive attitude helps not only you but can also help others. Your coffee cake and a cup of tea would be a perfect way to start the day.

  11. I'm so glad your blog can now be an outlet for you again. Like you said, many will relate to (and learn from) your experiences. I can definitely understand that your heart wasn't into blogging, but know that you were missed! Welcome back, my friend!

  12. Hi Rosemary! Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles. But I'm so glad you are back and are sharing with us once again. Boy, some days I just don't feel like blogging...and for no reason. So I can just imagine how you feel about it, too. But I hope you'll find cooking and talking therapeutic and you'll continue to share. Would love to be sitting around the kitchen with you, enjoying a slice of this beautiful cake!


I realize you don't have to take the time to comment . . . but it makes my day! So glad you decided to stay.