The day I learned to live without fear

I have jokingly said for decades that Don Quixote is my patron saint. I have a knack at tilting windmills daily, sometimes with unexpected results (good and bad). I try to keep a sense of humor, and look for positives and solutions in challenging situations. Those traits helped me four years ago. Well, it actually started five years ago, and then became personal the following year.

My big dog, Juno, was diagnosed in 2015 with thyroid cancer. It was aggressive and the tumor was fairly large. The vet and specialist both gave her about six months to live, and didn’t know if her having surgery would even help. She was 11 at the time (which is old for a boxer-pit mix), so we decided to spoil her even more and make her last few months happy. She even thought the kitten we got was for her to raise. She was a happy dog for sure.

Six months later, I noticed that I had a small lump at the base of my throat. It took three months of bugging Kaiser, but I finally saw a physician that was concerned enough to have it tested. 2016 was a year of happenings: I turned 50, my hubby and I earned our Associate degrees, and I received a cancer diagnosis. We had been standing in line to get into the Firestone Walker Invitational beer festival when I got the call from Kaiser with the results. Needless to say, it put a slight damper on the day.

Once the diagnosis was in, Kaiser moved quickly and five weeks later I had surgery. Great surgeon, no pain, and virtually no scar. It was emotionally rough, because I wasn’t able to let many people know because of external family drama at the time. I had friends that were dealing with their own health challenges, and was a little envious that they were able let others know so that assistance could be offered. Thankfully, I healed quickly and have continued to be cancer-free for the last four years. My Juno lived four more glorious and happy years, and passed away last October at the ripe old age of almost 15. She is still the best dog I’ve ever had.

I get a little sentimental on my cancerversary (7/19), and appreciate that the nodules were found early. It had spread in back of my windpipe, and being able to breathe is important for a wind instrument musician. One positive thing that the diagnosis did was remove my fear of “what if”. It gave me permission to let myself try things without constantly worrying what others would think, or even if I succeeded or failed. The adventure and experience were worth the imagined risk. At the end of the day I could still say I gave it a good go and met people (and learned something) in the process. I have a good life, have met some amazing people, and enjoy the daily adventure.

What does the future hold? I have no idea. I’m writing my recipes down (well, mostly), slowly building my website and blog (BTW, thanks for checking it out!), and having a blast creating the weekly Worst Cooks bingo. I’ll still talk with anyone who’ll listen about food, and am slowly learning how to stage and film cooking videos. I have a bit to go until I am happy with them, but the process has been interesting. My regular job pays the bills, and the musical groups I belong to are adapting to the current Covid-19 restrictions. I might get the hang of recording sometime soon, but I still feel a little silly recording myself playing with a click-track in my ear. It isn’t the same as playing in person with a group, but it is better than not being able to perform.

I do know this, life is what you make of it. I wish I had gotten braver at trying things at an earlier point in life, but better late than never. I may run five minutes late at times, have way too many cookbooks, and will never be very stylish. But I am kind, quirky, and try to be true to myself as much as possible. I appreciate the good things in my life, and keep making new goals for myself. I might not change my stars, but I will make sure to have an adventure along the way (and eat as much good food as I can find ).

Remember, life is too short for bad food.

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