Friday, September 7, 2012

Blueberries, anyone?

Last night, I attended a cancer survivors workshop at our local hospital with my cousin, Julie.  They had a wonderful agenda, one of the social workers talked about coping with massive change; the acupuncturist, a guy's guy,  gave a cooking demo and a dietician gave wonderful, practical advice about developing menus that were easy, packed with nutrition, and practical.  I think she needs her own advice, because she hates grocery shopping, and cooking, for that matter.  Funny.

Here's what she recommended for both prevention of cancer and  treatment of  cancer:  eat 2 1/2 cups of veggies a day; along with a 1 1/2 cups fruit.  I love those foods, but you have to realize the French fries don't count.  We're talking broccoli here.

Anyway, as helpful as these workshops are, the really interesting part was the survivors.  It was easy to spot the survivors and their caregivers.  Everybody looked as if they had been through a major war and had lost ever so much, rattled and not entirely clear about what their lives might be.

As helpful as the new meds are, and they are saving the lives of people right and left, cancer still scares us at the core.  I've felt that fear myself, and my cousin, Julie, got the big whammy.  She knows what it is.  It turns out that 1 in 25 Americans is now a cancer survivor.  So the good news, lots and lots of people live through it.  Kudos to them.  The bad news?  Too many people have cancer.  One person is bad enough.

I noticed this:  Hair.  Post-chemo, the hair comes back.  But it doesn't come back in the way it left.  It can stick out in odd directions, be beyond any attempts at control, or it can be a different color or texture.  Most people in the room were in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  Some of those folks tried to master their new hairs, others just let them be what they wanted to be.  My personal favorite: the 80-year-old woman who dyed the ends of her hair pink.  She's my kind of person, with the strength and humor to take something very bad—and put it in its place. Pink is the color of breast cancer survival.

The other thing I noticed was that kindness and compassion, a deep understanding of real live suffering is prevalent. Anything other than kindness is sacrilege.  Nothing else is called for.

They ended with a panel.  Dr. Dan was on it.  While everybody did a really good job, Dr. Dan was our favorite.  In this community, he is a beloved oncologist. We trust  him so deeply.

So, blueberries?  Here is the recipe for Blueberry Granita,  We had it for dessert; it was miraculous.  The recipe was developed by Alan Shaw, our chef/acupuncturist.  A couple of caveats here:  my math is not up to changing pounds and ounces into cups and half-cups; and the sugar issue.  Sugar feeds tumors, not something you want to be doing if you have active tumors.  It was also a little sweet for me.  So, I'd start with 4 ounces of sugar, and then add 1 tablespoon at a time until it becomes sweet enough.  Or you can use non-sugar sweetener.  You already know which ones work for you.   Start with a little, (very little actually, 8 ounces of sweeteners will melt off your ears—they are thousands of times sweeter than sugar) and work up.  It's worth the effort, because the taste of blueberries is regal.

Blueberries are one of the super-fruits, bold fighters against cancers of all stripes and stages.  You can eat as much as you can hold.  Turns out that your veggies and fruits are primary warriors against cancer.  That's what Julie did.  She took hold of her own recovery and eats fruits and vegg by the bucket-full.  She's closing in on her 5th anniversary.

Blueberry Granita
1 pound and 8 ounces of blueberry puree ( You can't buy blueberry puree in the store; but you can buy 3 small cartons of blueberries, cook them down  on top  of the stove with about 1/4 cup water, and then run them through a colander or a strainer. The liquidy stuff is puree.)
24 fluid ounces of water.
8 ounces of sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a metal pan and place in your freezer.  Sir the mixture every 15-20 minutes until it resembles crushed ice.  Think snow cone ice.  Cover it tightly and keep it in the freezer until you serve it, or it  disappears.  I like it better than ice cream; and I like ice cream plenty well.


  1. Powerful piece, sure to touch many people. Blueberries are the best! (As are you, my friend :-))