Saturday, August 31, 2013

Three Bean Salad with Mint

Here is a wonderfully fresh and light salad to serve on a hot day.  My mom made a kind of sweet three bean salad when I was growing up, and I liked it, but now I like a tangy version.  I added a few other ingredients to snazz this up, and it's definitely a favorite of mine.

Three Bean Salad with Mint


1 - 15oz. can of green beans
1 - 15oz. can of garbanzo beans
1 - 15 oz. can of kidney beans
2 sprigs' worth of mint leaves (about 8 to 12 leaves), chopped small
1 stalk celery, chopped small
1 green onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup of your favorite tangy dressing - can adjust to taste (We used LaMartinique True French Vinaigrette)


In a large colander, pour all your canned beans and rinse under cold water.  Drain completely, and put in a large bowl.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, and chill for at least two hours before serving.  Toss, taste, adjust dressing if necessary, and serve.  Yummy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Medical Scare - Back to Blogging

Hello, everyone!  It's been several weeks since I last posted on July 19th.  (You'll see shortly that the title of this post could have been a very different one.)  I have been very busy with medical tests to try and resolve a swollen lymph node in my neck. 

I first noticed it on July 20th, SR's sixteenth birthday and the day of her surprise party.  I noticed it, probably putting on makeup, I'm not really sure.  But, when I swallowed to check for a sore throat and checked my forehead for fever, I couldn't find any cold-like symptoms to explain the swelling.  After a few days, the swelling was bothering me - it was uncomfortable, large, and it wasn't going away (the lymph node would sometimes not be uncomfortable as the weeks wore on).  I contacted my doctor, and he put me on antibiotics to get rid of any infection that might be in my body that I just wasn't able to feel.  After a full ten days, my lymph node was still swollen; it was so swollen, you could see my neck bulging.

I went to my dentist, and he did a complete oral check and could find no dental reason why my node was swollen, even giving me new x-rays.  Imagine hoping for tooth decay!  But, no luck - everything looked good.  :-)

I went back to my doctor (he had prearranged a follow-up visit), and he ordered a CT scan.  During the CT scan, they noticed some masses on my thyroid.  I went in to have the largest one biopsied.  Also during that follow-up visit with my doc, he ordered a referral to have my lymph node biopsied. Several days went by, and while I was in the waiting room, waiting to be called for my lymph node biopsy, the medical assistant of the endocrinologist called to let me know the mass on my thyroid was a cyst and unrelated to the lymph node - just a coincidence.

I was called in to the procedural room for my lymph node biopsy, and of course, G was with me.  The doctor showed me my lymph node on the ultrasound.  It looked like a black circle/oval with white fibers running across it.  He showed me one of my healthy lymph nodes near it, and it looked like a black circle with a white center.  Because they had ruled out infection, cyst, fluid, salivary gland, dental, anything that would be easily explained, he looked at me and said, there really weren't any more options: the most likely cause was cancer.  I looked at G, and he gave me the most, intense, serious look that I've seen in a long time.

For those of you who don't know, I had cancer when I was in my 20's, and it's a very emotionally draining experience to have.  But, I was just shy of having my children then, and now I have three beautiful Blessings, ages 16, 13 and 7.  G was with me during the first cancer go-around, and here he was facing this with me again.  The thought of leaving my family now, and even my parents, who love me and depend upon me made me very, very sad.  I am Christian, that's listed below my photo here on this site, so I wasn't afraid of being with God, I just didn't want to leave my family at this time.

Anyways, he took six biopsies of my lymph node and said I would get the results in several days.  Of course, family, the church staff, and a few others had been praying for me, and I had been reading Scripture and praying.  The next day, we were supposed to have a garage sale, and I woke up excited to have it and also just to have a fun distraction.  But, in few minutes, I was overwhelmed with nausea, the shakes, clamminess and weakness.  It was so strong that I had to lay down.  G drove me very quickly to Emergency.  They ran a variety of tests, and they all came back good, which I found very encouraging.  I hadn't told anyone yet, but JK's party was the weekend after SR's, and I couldn't blow up a single balloon at his party, so I had been worried about my lungs.  They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, so they sent me home with anti-nausea and anti-anxiety meds.  My ER doc told me she was Christian, which I thought was not coincidental.

During the time that I was waiting for lymph node biopsy results, I tried to just take life normally.  I am an intensely affectionate mom, so my poor kids had to deal with even more hugging than usual.  On Tuesday, I read Hebrews chapter 11 that listed several people that trusted God in their lives to do amazing things, they had faith.  I was so humbled because I realized that I had been vacillating between having confidence that God would heal me to being very fearful.  I had been praying for healing, that the lymph node would be benign, or that whatever I had would be curable.  I realized that I hadn't been consistent with my faith.

On Wednesday morning I read the first three chapters of James.  One section jumped out at me, James 1:2-8, and one verse specifically had a major impact, ""But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (6).  I was so convicted when I read that, that when I was done, I prayed, "God, you know I'm scared, but I'm going to believe that you will heal me, that this swelling will go down, and that I will be well."  Throughout the day, when I would get fearful, I would remember my prayer, brush away the fearful thoughts and believe.  During the day, I could swear that my swelling was going down.  At 4pm, my regular doctor called and said that none of the samples were malignant or cancerous!  He said they didn't know what was wrong with my lymph node, but whatever it was, they were sure it was benign.  I told him that I thought my swelling was going down, and he said that if it was still swollen to call him in a couple of weeks but that it should eventually go completely down.  I told him about the Scripture that had such an impact on me that morning, and he told me he was Christian - I never knew that.

Anyhow, it's been two awesome days, and my swelling continues to go down.  To go from thinking that I'm going to have to fight for my life - again, to being set free and allowed to enjoy my family and plan a normal school year is beyond wonderful to me.  I know this is laced with a lot of talk about God, but I feel it incumbent upon me to share this story completely.  There is no other reason besides divine intervention why my lymph node is suddenly getting healthy.  I saw it on the ultrasound, and all the docs had no other clinical reason besides cancer to explain what was going on.  I am thankful for the prayers on my behalf, and I hope I still get prayers for the swelling to completely disappear.

Enjoy every moment you are gifted.  Don't be harsh with each other.  Love any kind of weather that comes your way.  Appreciate each other's differences.  Notice nature.  Be vegan.  And finally, Praise God!

In a few days, I'll be back to blogging again.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  God Bless.