Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Better Baker - August 2009 - When Cancer Strikes

Cancer.  Too many of us are more familiar with it than we care to be,either directly or indirectly.

August 30,2008 was a life changing day for our family. Our then-three year old grandson,Caden, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was a shock to all of us. His mom had taken him to the dr. for another health issue and the dr. decided to run bloodwork. Caden was admitted to St. Vincent’s Children’s hospital in Toledo that afternoon and his first round of chemo began the next day.(Thank the good Lord for great doctors like Dr. Bell!)

There are so many good folks in the world, and the support systems that our son,Dave,and wife,Lyn,and family have encountered along the way,are worth bragging about.They play a huge role in helping Dave’s family maintain some sanity on this crazy ‘journey’ on life's road.

We learned early-on about the (free) caring bridge website.Caden has his own page--his parents can post pictures & updates.Subscribers can get an email every time there is new info which saves tireless hours of trying to communicate with friends and family.The address of his site is www.caringbridge.org/visit/cbaker.

A family from our area,who had just finished treatment for their own child with leukemia,visited Dave & Lyn in the hospital the first week Caden was there.Along with offering support and encouragement,they also told them about Angel Hugs.

Dave signed Caden up to be a member of that program at www.angelhugs.ca/ .These ‘angels’ have given much encouragement on many occasions.Volunteers send cards,packages,and gifts,just to bring smiles to many needy families going through this tumultuous time.

Another wonderful program is Chemo Angels.Two ‘angels’ are assigned to the patient,and send cards and care packages to keep spirits up.

One,who is an actress,sent Caden a Toy Story movie poster with a hand written note that reads "Howdy Caden!Much love,Tom Hanks".For his June birthday,Caden received a CD with his favorite cartoon character- Spongebob Squarepants-repeating Caden’s name,wishing him a happy day.What special RAINBOWS in the storms of life!

SuperSibs is a program for the siblings of the patient(www.SuperSibs.org/) that helps include them in the whole recovery process.Even though much attention is put on Caden,members of "SS" remind Caden's big sisters-Charlie,10 and Chloe,8-that they are still very important people too.The girls have received trophies for being such great supporters of their little brother,personalized pillow cases and books with the theme of being a sibling to someone who has a serious illness (happy endings of course).

The family has also received support from the county Cancer Assistance Agency.They provide assistance with medical bills,prescriptions,travel costs and have resources and referrals for many other places and people that individuals with cancer needs.

Two of Dave’s aunts,Carol and Vicki,outdid themselves last fall by holding a benefit for Caden.They are planning another at the end of Sept in Pioneer.What great blessings!

Last,but hardly least,our church-Hillsdale Baptist-has shown much support for Dave and family,not only financially,but have been a great encouragement with cards and prayers and gifts.They showered Caden with many gifts for his recent birthday,and included family members as well.

These words have been spoken by pastor Rick Warren and I think we can say we experience the truths expressed here..."At all times you have something good and something bad in your life.No matter how good things are,there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.And no matter how bad things are in your life,there is always something good you can thank God for."

At this point in time, Caden has had more spinal taps,chemo and bloodwork than you can imagine.He’s had a great summer,laughing and playing,and even learning to swim at home.He’s even grown a full head of hair again,but is getting ready to begin a stronger round of chemo,(hopefully his last)so may be bald again before long.He has physical therapy two times a week, and has a good prognosis-we’ve learned to take life one day at a time.After a year of aggressive treatment,we look forward to a slower pace-once-a-month treatment,for up to 3 years.We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for Caden and our family during these up and down days.

Caden’s picture was on the front page of the Toledo Blade last Thursday,August 13th,as he was being read to, while at the hospital for treatment.Another special and enjoyable ‘pit stop’ on this race called life.

Since it’s the time of year when many gardens are proliferating zucchini to enjoy,I wanted to share a favorite recipe.It was tough to choose which one,so I plan to share another next month.

ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE

4 cups peeled, diced zucchini

1 grated carrot

1 grated onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1 box stove top stuffing

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Boil zucchini in salted water for 4 minutes and drain.Add remaining ingredients and mix together in large bowl.Place in greased 8" X 8" casserole dish.Top with 1 cup crushed corn flakes mixed with 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter.Bake 45 minutes uncovered.

For variety,use your favorite zucchini bread recipe,and substitute ½ cup of baking cocoa to replace an equal amount of flour,and enjoy chocolate zucchini bread.

Quote for the Day:We make a living by what we get.We make a life by what we give.-Winston Churchill