This past Wednesday, we were able to make a great connection between two caregivers. A 23 year old woman, living in Kansas registered with us because her Mom is currently fighting inflammatory breast cancer. She’s been having some complications and wanted to connect with another young woman in her 20s who had a Mom survive inflammatory breast cancer. I was able to reach out to one of our amazing daughter-caregivers who is 25 years old, lives right here in Chicago and has a lot of insight about how to care for her Mom who already beat inflammatory breast cancer nearly 3 years ago! The two young woman are now connected, sharing stories, tips, tricks advice and inspiration to one another!
The single hardest day of my life came on January 23, 2006, when my mother passed away from breast cancer. Even now, four years later, in addition to missing her like crazy, I’m confronted with her absence on a daily basis. What does it mean to not have your mother in your life? Who helps you plan a wedding? Who helps you problem-solve and raise your kids? Who do you call for a cooking question? All of those questions continue to stump me—except for the last one. Because when it comes to cooking, I have her cookbooks.
My mother, Renée, with the help of her beloved family and friends, created two cookbooks, both entitled, “Whip Me, Beat Me, Eat Me.” The origin of “Whip Me, Beat Me, Eat Me” started in my mother’s kitchen. Every Sunday night, she would cook dinner for 15 to 50 family and friends, who would all gather around our large dining room table, filling our home with love and laughter. I spent countless hours in the kitchen, helping her prepare these feasts, and in turn I learned how to cook. Today, I make all of her recipes and I’m always pleasantly shocked by the way the memories flood back while I’m cooking.
There’s no emotion that rivals the intensity of grieving a loved one. It is unfathomably depressing. After she was gone, I had to find a reason and purpose to live without my mother, my best friend. I’ve discovered that cooking is what helps me connect most powerfully with my mom, even though she is no longer with us. And it’s not just me—my mother’s recipes bring the family together, too. My sisters and I love to sit around the kitchen, eating our favorite foods and sharing our comforting memories. My mother would have loved that.
In honor of my mother, and everyone who has lost someone close to them, I am currently working on a cookbook of my own, and asking people to send in their favorite bittersweet memories, along with recipes, from their lost loved ones. All of the family recipes that have departed with our loved ones will now be remembered indefinitely.
Please go to www.bittersweet-memories.com to send in your favorite memories and recipes!
- Emily Hoffman
Happy New Year! We’re kicking off 2010 with a great, busy week! Thus far, we’ve had 34 cancer fighters and 7 caregivers reach out for 1on1 support. We’ve completed 25 pair-up connections this week so far!
The pair-up that I would like to highlight is pretty unique. A 26 year old guy from Washington fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma reached out looking to connect not only with another Hodgkin’s survivor but someone who was an athlete, specifically, a cyclist. He wanted to chat with someone who got back on the bike while going through treatment. He had some questions about how long they waited, if they were able to ride while on treatment, etc… Well, we found him two great athlete survivors to chat with!
First, I connected him with “Wheels.” I met Wheels (her camp nickname) this past summer at First Descents. She was one of my closest buddies at camp and she lives in Colorado Springs, CO. She’s a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, had it while she was in her late 20’s and she’s 30 years old now – doing great, healthy again and finishing up her PhD in psychology. Wheels got her nickname because she’s a huge cyclist. On her time off, she’s also a training coach AND she won a national championship 11 months after her diagnosis.
Next, I connected him with another guy living in NY who had Hodgkin’s when he was 30 years old. He was also an athlete – he played hockey and lifted weights. I thought he could shed some light on his experience with balancing treatment and his sport guy-to-guy.
Needless to say, these were two great connections. We not only pair-up based on age, gender, cancer type and stage level but we also try to specialize the connection based on the needs of the cancer fighter. Perhaps someone is looking for another athlete, or someone who did alternative medicine, or maybe another single mom with kids. We always do our best to meet these needs.
Again, if you and/or someone you know has been touched by cancer – please don’t hesitate to reach out. The first step is to register online from our homepage please click on “GET CONNECTED.” We’d be happy to get you connected to another survivor and/or register you in our network so that you can help mentor-angel someone else who is newly diagnosed.
Wishing all of you a wonderful, healthy year in 2010!