Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kicking Ass and Taking Names: Cancer, Loss, and Oat Fudge Minis

So it turns out that my college roommate has lymphoma.  She's in her late 30s, has a kid in elementary school, skateboards for fun, wears pigtails and badass shoes.  Not the sort of chick you'd imagine would wake up some day and find out she has cancer.

She made a FB announcement about this the other day, asking us all to put our "grown up pants on," assuring us that her GI said it was "very treatable with chemo," and her wall was immediately filled with people posting support and love and offering to bake brownies (not exactly the kind of brownie I bake here at aHBL.)

I am confident that my friend will kick cancer's ass.  Because that's just the kind of person she is.  She is one amazing, resilient, determined woman ... and that doesn't even begin to describe her.  I'm going to think positive thoughts, send her all of my good energy, and cheer her on through the suck that is going to be chemo.

My friend's announcement was yet another reminder of how vulnerable we are, how everything we know can turn on a dime, how precious this gift called life really is.  I've had a lot of reminders lately, it seems: my friend my age who needed a heart transplant, friends with sick kids, and now this.  Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something?

Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day that thousands of people all over the world light candles in remembrance of lives that never had the chance to be lived, and in solidarity with people who never imagined they would lose a child.  I've written about my own losses here, but yesterday I was thinking about so many other women and men I've met who felt alone, adrift, silenced.  Unlike cancer, pregnancy and infant loss tends to be invisible, or at the very least taboo.  But it needs to be something we can talk about, not so that we can "get over" it, but so that we can learn to live with it.  To support each other, to be there, to bear witness.

No matter whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, no matter when you think life begins, no matter whether you know someone with cancer or have been lucky enough to avoid that happening to your loved ones, I ask you to take one moment today and marvel at the fact that You. Are. Alive.  To realize that the odds against you, specifically you, being born, are actually pretty friggin' incredible.  To give thanks for that gift, and to decide that you're going to do something with it.  And to ask that one of the things you do with that gift is offer compassion to families and individuals who grieve and struggle and hope.

I made these the other day as a healthier-than-usual treat.  They're full of fiber and protein, are a little lower on the glycemic index than your standard cookie, contain antioxidants and other immunity-boosters, and give you energy.  They're the kind of thing my college roommate made in our makeshift kitchen; she's probably long since forgotten, but I remember her experimental "healthy" cookies fondly.  Here's to kicking ass and taking names, my friend.

Oat Fudge Minis

1 medium banana
2 T. coconut oil (you could use canola or an oil of choice…but this stuff is more buttery)
1/4 c. egg whites (or 1 egg, or applesauce)
4 T. agave (more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 t. salt (salt joins the liquids because it dissolves)
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. spelt flour
1/2 c. oat bran
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
1/3 c. mini dark chocolate chips (or more)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mash banana and add other liquid ingredients into banana mixture. Add dry ingredients, one quarter cup at a time, mixing until well blended. Line mini muffin pan with liners (or grease it) and spoon 1 tablespoon into each cup. Press chocolate chips into each mini and cover each mini with remaining oat mixture. Press a few more chocolate chips into each one and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

The coconut oil is good for you. They're sweetened naturally. They have lots of antioxidants, if you’re using dark chocolate, and lots of fiber. Spelt and oats contain protein.  All excellent for ass-kicking.
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  1. I'm so sorry to read this about your friend. I know she will kick cancers arse considering the amazing friend she has in you for all the love and support. Thank you also for your comment on my blog tributed also to Pregnancy and Infant Loss day. Now off to make those delicious cookies!!

  2. You rock my socks off. And thank you for publishing this amazing post just days before I'm going to be linking here for my Time Warp Tuesday Hero post. Oh yes, you are my hero and I'll be writing more about you on Tuesday. Get ready!

  3. lots of thoughts & wishes for your friend's speedy recovery are headed towards you right now!
    & thank you for the remembrance on the 15th. your candles looked beautiful. here's hoping that if enough of us speak up & remember, we'll move the topic out of the realm of taboo to a place where we can grieve in a compassionate world.

    (we will definetly be trying these cookies! i have been on a cookie bender lately, & feeling super guilty about the massive amounts of sweets i'm eating... at least these have the appearance of being healthy!thanks for sharing!)

  4. Your friend sounds like a warrior women (much as I imagine you to be). I'm sure you're right and she'll kick cancer's ass! It's so true about never knowing what tomorrow holds. It's such a gift to have reminders every now and again to whip us back into shape when we start to forget that.

  5. I commented to N not too long ago that this--recent serious and scary cancer diagnoses for those in our lives--has made me feel more like an adult than becoming a mother has. It underscores just how fleeting this all is, how unpermanent this life is. I am sorry to hear about your friend's diagnosis, and I am sending a little flare of prayer and hope up for her.

    I have to rebuild a bit of my pantry since the move, and I think spelt and flax seed and OH YES dark chocolate are must-adds to my grocery list. ;)

  6. My thoughts are with your friend. I think that someone with the spirit to wear pigtails and skateboard is strong enough to beat this.

    I didn't know that it was pregnancy loss remembrance day....thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your little ones.

  7. Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your friend. Wishing her and you well.

    Somehow I missed that it was pregnancy loss remembrance day this year...although I tend to associate this time of year with miscarriage and infertility. I'd missed your own miscarriage post last spring...and I have to say I am awed. It's quite a story, and one I, unfortunately, relate to quite well. Thinking of you.

  8. *hugs* to you, Justine, for the loss that you've had to bear. I'll light our Halloween pumpkin tonight in honor of this day. Thank you too for the post ;)

  9. it's amazing how much of our lives an pass before we're even really cognizant of the impermance of it all. I hope for the best for your friends and their fight. And, for the babies you lost, the beauty of their life regardless its length.

    Plus, D@MN girl, good looking cookies!

  10. It seems that the we are destined to live our adult lives in cycles of awareness. As soon as we succeed in temporarily removing the reality of just how tenuous it all is from our fore brains, something happens to remind us once again.

    Thank you for that wonderful recipe! It's such a joy to see something edible that actually looks good to me.


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