Those of you who follow my posts regularly may have noted an uncharacteristic silence in the past two weeks. My temporary hiatus from blogging came on the heels of receiving some unexpected and sobering news. I needed to take some time to reflect and regroup, but since I am a writer I find myself invariably drawn back to the page.
Life throws us all curve balls. This is a reality of the human experience that no one escapes. I believe it is what we do when the going gets tough that ultimately defines who we are. My defining moment came as I waited anxiously in my doctor’s office for pathology results. I was about to get some answers after several weeks of diagnostic tests triggered by an anomaly on my annual mammogram. Thus far the psychological toll of living in a state of limbo, while trying not to let my mind run away with me, had been the hardest part of the process.
I heard the hurried footsteps of my doctor coming down the hallway, and took a deep breath as the door opened. I had spent a lot of time visualizing this moment. In my mind’s eye, she always swept into the tiny room with her characteristic confidence and said, “False alarm! It’s all good. Now go home and go on with your life.”
Instead, she swept into the room, grabbed a nearby chair and pulled it alongside the examining table where I sat. She took a seat, steadied her gaze, and laid a reassuring hand on my leg. At that moment I knew I was not about to have the conversation I had hoped for. “Let’s discuss your biopsy results . . .” she began.
The pathology report confirmed a diagnosis of DCIS: Ductal Carcinoma.
. . . blah, blah, blah.
I pretty much stopped hearing everything she said after the “C” word.
Two other very important words did register in that haze: contained and non-invasive. This was the good news. They had caught it early and it was completely operable. She offered reassurance that I would come through this challenge good as new. Life would go on.
Only now my life will always be defined differently. It will be BC (before cancer) and AD (after diagnosis). There is no history of breast cancer in my family or genetic indicators that make me a likely candidate for this diagnosis. Yet, here I am.
In the weeks ahead I will have another surgery, and probably post procedure radiation for good measure.
Don’t get me wrong. I am exceedingly grateful for early detection! Thanks to the advancements of modern technology, I have a “fall-on-your-knees and thank the Almighty” scenario in the spectrum of possibilities that could play out here.
I debated whether to share this news publicly or keep it private. It comes from a tender place; a deeply personal and still struggling to come-to-terms place. But a dear friend reminded me that other women in our midst might find solace in my story. I sat with that idea for several days. Could sharing this diagnosis be an opportunity to help myself and others successfully navigate the path ahead? There is a sense of strength in community, particularly in times of difficulty.
It is easy to feel helpless when things happen beyond our control. Intuitively, I knew I would feel empowered if I focused on the things I could manage. This mindset can be the difference between feeling helpless or hopeful.
Food—and its ability to nourish, sustain, connect, and heal us all—has always been a cornerstone of my belief system. This basic need to feed both body and soul for the journey ahead will be reflected in the recipes I post on this blog. As always, local, seasonal, sustainably grown whole foods will be the foundation of my diet.
Making a soothing pot of Homemade Bone Broth eased my anxiety after the diagnosis. It is an easy-to-make and highly nutritional soup which nourishes, fortifies, and comforts on a deeply satisfying level.
People have been making bone broth for eons. It was once considered peasant food, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. This mineral rich broth, which is made by slowly simmering marrow and knuckle bones with vegetables, is extraordinarily rich in protein. The gelatin rendered from the bones during the cooking process is a good source of glucosamine and chondroitin which supports joint health. The broth is easily absorbed by the body, and may also be added to other dishes to enhance flavor and boost nutrition.
I chose grass-fed and finished organic beef bones from Stemple Creek Ranch as the base for my broth, but you may also substitute lamb bones if you like. Roasting the bones and veggies together in the oven before making the broth will intensify the flavor the finished soup.
A couple of other quick notes: Adding a little cider vinegar to the water helps release minerals stored in the bones. Avoid using beets as well as cauliflower, broccoli or other brassicas as they will lend an off-taste to your soup. I highly recommend puréeing Maitake or Shiitake mushrooms sautéed in a little olive oil with a cup of warm broth for an added immunity boost.
Here’s to healing and vibrant health!
Yours in good food,
HOMEMADE BONE BROTH (makes 8-9 cups broth)
*Inspired by Epicurious
Printable recipe: HOMEMADE BONE BROTH
- 4 pounds Grass Fed & Finished Beef or Lamb bones (a mixture of marrow & knuckle) with a little meat on them.
- 2 unpeeled organic carrots, cut into 3” pieces
- 1 organic leek, topped and cut in thick slices
- 1 medium organic yellow onion, skin removed & quartered
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 2 organic celery stalks, cut into 2” pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Filtered water
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse the bones and pat them dry. Line a large roasting pan with foil. Place bones, carrots, leek, onion, and garlic in pan and roast for about one hour (or until bones are well browned and fragrant).
- Spoon the roasted bones, veggies, and roasting juices into a large stock pot and cover with water (about 12 cups). Add celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and vinegar. Add more water if necessary to cover.
- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, with lid slightly ajar, for at least 8 hours but up to 24 hours (I simmered mine for a full day). The longer the broth simmers the more flavorful it will be. Add more water to keep bones covered if necessary.
- Remove the pot from the stove and let cool. Strain broth into a large container using a fine mesh sieve. Discard bones and veggies. Refrigerate overnight.
- Skim the solidified fat from the top of the chilled broth and discard. The cold broth will be gelatinous, but will liquefy when reheated. Warm & serve plain or purée with sautéed mushrooms. *Bone broth may be frozen in portions for up to 6 months.