Thursday, May 19, 2011

Advocates and Asparagus

Thirteen years ago, Brian Monaghan was given a death sentence-his doctor had found two brain tumors and he was given 3-6 months to live. While he was battling cancer, his wife Gerri was fighting on his behalf; acting as his advocate and ensuring that he received the best possible care. Together they beat the odds. Brian and Gerri share their experience and offer a road map for navigating the medical system in "WHEN A LOVED ONE FALLS ILL: HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PATIENT ADVOCATE" and I talked with them on Tuesday.

Their story is an incredible and powerful one and took me back twenty-five years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She was not quite three years old and I became her advocate and ally. Many of the "50 Tips" that Brian and Gerri share were things that I did as well.

  • Trusting your own intuition. (I knew something wasn't right when I saw all the bruising on her legs)

  • Carrying a notebook, asking questions and writing things down. (There were many different chemos, plus I had to learn to draw blood from her catheter for testing at our local path lab so I needed to know what the results meant).

  • Make memories and share stories (We took a trip to Disney World during the middle of her treatment. Grandpa, Grandma, aunts, uncles and siblings and had a once in a lifetime experience!)

  • Always think in terms of "we". (I didn't receive the chomo, the "pokes", the radiation-but I felt that we were fighting this battle together!).

  • Celebrate the milestones. (We did that this past January when my daughter hosted a twenty-five anniversary celebration for doctors, nurses, friends and family who supported during the tumultuous time.

This book is an incredible tale of survival, love and committment and is a "must read" for everyone facing tough medical challenges.

It seems like spring as been a long time coming. One of the best "flavors" of spring is fresh asparagus. We've been sharing recipes for asparagus soup, quiche and more... When freezing asparagus remember these tips:

  • Select young tender spears with tightly closed tips

  • Wash thoroughly and sort by size

  • Trim stalks be removing the scales with a sharp knife

  • Cut into even lenghts to fit into freezer containers.

  • Blanch small spears for 1 1/2 minutes; medium spears for 2 minutes; and large spears for 3 minutes. Cool and drain well.

  • Pack spears into freezer containers and freeze. Or for smaller amounts, freeze on cookie sheets prior to placing in containers

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