Friday, March 27, 2009
“Everything in Moderation.... Including Moderation.” Julia Child
One of the greatest honors I ever have experienced in my life was meeting and having luncheon with my mentor and idol, Julia Child. Julia, who was first published at age 49.
Julia, who first appeared on television at age 50. Julia, who stood firm defending the dignity of real butter and heavy cream in the face of the food police. Julia, who made a mess in a kitchen and laughed all the way. Julia, who dried lettuce by swinging it about splashing cameraman and anyone else in her way . Julia, who pounded veal into submission with wild abandon. Julia, who stood over six feet tall. Julia, a 36 year breast cancer survivor.
Julia. She was my baby sitter. My mother parked me in front of The French Chef when I was a child and thus began my lifelong love affair with cooking and food. She taught me the value of butter and to never underestimate the power of a good quality wine in any dish, “If you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it.”
Julia did not attend the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) but she worked for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) as a spy where she met her beloved husband Paul. It was Paul who put up that famous French Blue caulk board in her kitchen from where she could hang her pots and pans and keep them within easy reach. While living in France, she attended Le Cordon Bleu and studied with private chefs. In 1962, she wrote “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” known in my home as The Bible.
She believed in real food, real ingredients: Butter, Meat, Cream and Wine. I followed her guidance and when I was working as a chef, people always asked me how I made the food taste so good. “It is very simple." I would answer. "I use real food and butter and cream. The way Julia Child does.”
In 1968, at the age of 51, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy. And the French Chef you saw on TV all those years was an active, living, breathing, thriving, survivor. Her secret to long life? “Meat and Gin.”
When I met her that spring day, I had a bustling catering business. In fact, that evening I had three parties booked. I brought with me my mother’s copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, that had become mine, for her to sign. I thought I would be composed. I have met many famous people in my life. But Julia was like a second mother to me. And here she was, sitting next to me for lunch. I started to cry. She put her arm around me and started to ask me questions about myself until I pulled myself together and we proceeded to have a lovely, unforgettable time.
Little did I know that only a couple of years later I would be diagnosed with breast cancer. I was feeling helpless. I was on line at the market and there was a magazine at the checkout that was listing “Celebrities with Breast Cancer.” I opened it, and there was Julia’s picture. A wave of relief and strength washed over me. Julia was a survivor. I didn't know that. I didn’t feel alone anymore. If she could survive this, so could I.
Julia Child was a magnificent, accomplished, kind hearted, innovative, funny, irreverent, loving woman, who also kicked the Beast to the curb like so much silver skin to be discarded from a filet in order to make the meat more beautiful and delicious. Just like she made her life.
I have followed her lead my whole life. I intend on doing so forever.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The following is the story about the fire as it appeared in the New York Times, the day after the fire, on March 26th, 1911
New York Times, March 26, 1911, p. 1.
141 Men and Girls Die in Waist Factory Fire; Trapped High Up in Washington Place Building; Street Strewn with Bodies; Piles of Dead Inside
Three stories of a ten-floor building at the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place were burned yesterday, and while the fire was going on 141 young men and women at least 125 of them mere girls were burned to death or killed by jumping to the pavement below.
The building was fireproof. It shows now hardly any signs of the disaster that overtook it. The walls are as good as ever so are the floors, nothing is the worse for the fire except the furniture and 141 of the 600 men and girls that were employed in its upper three stories.
Most of the victims were suffocated or burned to death within the building, but some who fought their way to the windows and leaped met death as surely, but perhaps more quickly, on the pavements below.
All Over in Half an Hour.
Nothing like it has been seen in New York since the burning of the General Slocum. The fire was practically all over in half an hour. It was confined to three floors the eighth, ninth, and tenth of the building. But it was the most murderous fire that New York had seen in many years.
The victims who are now lying at the Morgue waiting for some one to identify them by a tooth or the remains of a burned shoe were mostly girls from 16 to 23 years of age. They were employed at making shirtwaist by the Triangle Waist Company, the principal owners of which are Isaac Harris and Max Blanck. Most of them could barely speak English. Many of them came from Brooklyn. Almost all were the main support of their hard-working families.
There is just one fire escape in the building. That one is an interior fire escape. In Greene Street, where the terrified unfortunates crowded before they began to make their mad leaps to death, the whole big front of the building is guiltless of one. Nor is there a fire escape in the back.
The building was fireproof and the owners had put their trust in that. In fact, after the flames had done their worst last night, the building hardly showed a sign. Only the stock within it and the girl employees were burned.
A heap of corpses lay on the sidewalk for more than an hour. The firemen were too busy dealing with the fire to pay any attention to people whom they supposed beyond their aid. When the excitement had subsided to such an extent that some of the firemen and policemen could pay attention to this mass of the supposedly dead they found about half way down in the pack a girl who was still breathing. She died two minutes after she was found.
The Triangle Waist Company was the only sufferer by the disaster. There are other concerns in the building, but it was Saturday and the other companies had let their people go home. Messrs. Harris and Blanck, however, were busy and ?? their girls and some stayed.
Leaped Out of the Flames.
At 4:40 o'clock, nearly five hours after the employes in the rest of the building had gone home, the fire broke out. The one little fire escape in the interior was resorted to by any of the doomed victims. Some of them escaped by running down the stairs, but in a moment or two this avenue was cut off by flame. The girls rushed to the windows and looked down at Greene Street, 100 feet below them. Then one poor, little creature jumped. There was a plate glass protection over part of the sidewalk, but she crashed through it, wrecking it and breaking her body into a thousand pieces.
Then they all began to drop. The crowd yelled "Don't jump!" but it was jump or be burned the proof of which is found in the fact that fifty burned bodies were taken from the ninth floor alone.
They jumped, the crashed through broken glass, they crushed themselves to death on the sidewalk. Of those who stayed behind it is better to say nothing except what a veteran policeman said as he gazed at a headless and charred trunk on the Greene Street sidewalk hours after the worst cases had been taken out:
"I saw the Slocum disaster, but it was nothing to this."
"Is it a man or a woman?" asked the reporter.
"It's human, that's all you can tell," answered the policeman.
It was just a mass of ashes, with blood congealed on what had probably been the neck.
Messrs. Harris and Blanck were in the building, but the escaped. They carried with the Mr. Blanck's children and a governess, and they fled over the roofs. Their employes did not know the way, because they had been in the habit of using the two freight elevators, and one of these elevators was not in service when the fire broke out.
Found Alive After the Fire.
The first living victims, Hyman Meshel of 322 East Fifteenth Street, was taken from the ruins four hours after the fire was discovered. He was found paralyzed with fear and whimpering like a wounded animal in the basement, immersed in water to his neck, crouched on the top of a cable drum and with his head just below the floor of the elevator.
Meantime the remains of the dead it is hardly possible to call them bodies, because that would suggest something human, and there was nothing human about most of these were being taken in a steady stream to the Morgue for identification. First Avenue was lined with the usual curious east side crowd. Twenty-sixth Street was impassable. But in the Morgue they received the charred remnants with no more emotion than they ever display over anything.
Back in Greene Street there was another crowd. At midnight it had not decreased in the least. The police were holding it back to the fire lines, and discussing the tragedy in a tone which those seasoned witnesses of death seldom use.
"It's the worst thing I ever saw," said one old policeman.
Chief Croker said it was an outrage. He spoke bitterly of the way in which the Manufacturers' Association had called a meeting in Wall Street to take measures against his proposal for enforcing better methods of protection for employes in cases of fire.
No Chance to Save Victims.
Four alarms were rung in fifteen minutes. The first five girls who jumped did go before the first engine could respond. That fact may not convey much of a picture to the mind of an unimaginative man, but anybody who has ever seen a fire can get from it some idea of the terrific rapidity with which the flames spread.
It may convey some idea too, to say that thirty bodies clogged the elevator shaft. These dead were all girls. They had made their rush their blindly when they discovered that there was no chance to get out by the fire escape. Then they found that the elevator was as hopeless as anything else, and they fell there in their tracks and died.
The Triangle Waist Company employed about 600 women and less than 100 men. One of the saddest features of the thing is the fact that they had almost finished for the day. In five minutes more, if the fire had started then, probably not a life would have been lost.
Last night District Attorney Whitman started an investigation not of this disaster alone but of the whole condition which makes it possible for a firetrap of such a kind to exist. Mr. Whitman's intention is to find out if the present laws cover such cases, and if they do not to frame laws that will.
Girls Jump To Sure Death.
Fire Nets Prove Useless Firemen Helpless to Save Life.
The fire which was first discovered at 4:40 o'clock on the eighth floor of the ten-story building at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street, leaped through the three upper stories occupied by the Triangle Waist Company with a sudden rush that left the Fire Department helpless.
How the fire started no one knows. On the three upper floors of the building were 600 employes of the waist company, 500 of whom were girls. The victims mostly Italians, Russians, Hungarians, and Germans were girls and men who had been employed by the firm of Harris & Blanck, owners of the Triangle Waist Company, after the strike in which the Jewish girls, formerly employed, had been become unionized and had demanded better working conditions. The building had experienced four recent fires and had been reported by the Fire Department to the Building Department as unsafe in account of the insufficiency of its exits.
The building itself was of the most modern construction and classed as fireproof. What burned so quickly and disastrously for the victims were shirtwaists, hanging on lines above tiers of workers, sewing machines placed so closely together that there was hardly aisle room for the girls between them, and shirtwaist trimmings and cuttings which littered the floors above the eighth and ninth stories.
Girls had begun leaping from the eighth story windows before firemen arrived. The firemen had trouble bringing their apparatus into position because of the bodies which strewed the pavement and sidewalks. While more bodies crashed down among them, they worked with desperation to run their ladders into position and to spread firenets.
One fireman running ahead of a hose wagon, which halted to avoid running over a body spread a firenet, and two more seized hold of it. A girl's body, coming end over end, struck on the side of it, and there was hope that she would be the first one of the score who had jumped to be saved.
Thousands of people who had crushed in from Broadway and Washington Square and were screaming with horror at what they saw watched closely the work with the firenet. Three other girls who had leaped for it a moment after the first one, struck it on top of her, and all four rolled out and lay still upon the pavement.
Five girls who stood together at a window close the Greene Street corner held their place while a fire ladder was worked toward them, but which stopped at its full length two stories lower down. They leaped together, clinging to each other, with fire streaming back from their hair and dresses. They struck a glass sidewalk cover and it to the basement. There was no time to aid them. With water pouring in upon them from a dozen hose nozzles the bodies lay for two hours where they struck, as did the many others who leaped to their deaths.
One girl, who waved a handkerchief at the crowd, leaped from a window adjoining the New York University Building on the westward. Her dress caught on a wire, and the crowd watched her hang there till her dress burned free and she came toppling down.
Many jumped whom the firemen believe they could have saved. A girl who saw the glass roof of a sidewalk cover at the first-story level of the New York University Building leaped for it, and her body crashed through to the sidewalk.
On Greene Street, running along the eastern face of the building more people leaped to the pavement than on Washington Place to the south. Fire nets proved just as useless to catch them and the ladders to reach them. None waited for the firemen to attempt to reach them with the scaling ladders.
All Would Soon Have Been Out. Strewn about as the firemen worked, the bodies indicated clearly the preponderance of women workers. Here and there was a man, but almost always they were women. One wore furs and a muss, and had a purse hanging from her arm. Nearly all were dressed for the street. The fire had flashed through their workroom just as they were expecting the signal to leave the building. In ten minutes more all would have been out, as many had stopped work in advance of the signal and had started to put on their wraps.
What happened inside there were few who could tell with any definiteness. All that those escaped seemed to remember was that there was a flash of flames, leaping first among the girls in the southeast corner of the eighth floor and then suddenly over the entire room, spreading through the linens and cottons with which the girls were working. The girls on the ninth floor caught sight of the flames through the window up the stairway, and up the elevator shaft.
On the tenth floor they got them a moment later, but most of those on that floor escaped by rushing to the roof and then on to the roof of the New York University Building, with the assistance of 100 university students who had been dismissed from a tenth story classroom.
There were in the building, according to the estimate of Fire Chief Croker, about 600 girls and 100 men.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Now, she is addressing the Hill about how vital it is for YOUNG WOMEN to be screened early.
The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation has been a strong advocate for base line mammograms to be mandated at age 35 not age 40 as the American Cancer Society Guidelines dictate. We support Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz's proposal.
Broward U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz reveals cancer battle
After telling The Miami Herald that she had successfully fought breast cancer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz vowed to warn younger women about the risks.
BY LESLEY CLARK
WASHINGTON -- When Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz steps to the lectern at the Capitol on Monday to push for greater awareness of breast cancer risks in younger women, she'll be speaking from experience.
The Broward County Democrat and mother of three told The Miami Herald on Saturday that she successfully battled breast cancer for the past year and is going public with her story in the hope of alerting young women to its prevalence. She'll introduce legislation Monday that calls for a national education campaign targeting women between 15 and 39.
'I wanted to be able to not just stand up and say, `I'm a breast cancer survivor.' . . . I wanted to find a gap and try to fill it,'' said Wasserman Schultz, 42.
In the past year, she underwent seven major surgeries, including a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, while balancing motherhood, Congress and her roles as a chief fundraiser for House Democrats and a political surrogate, first for Hillary Clinton and then for Barack Obama.
''I had a lot going on last year,'' she said with a laugh, sitting in the living room of the Capitol Hill town house she shares with two other members of Congress when she's in Washington. ``I'm a very focused, methodical person, and I wasn't going to let this beat me. I wasn't going to let it interfere with my life.''
She'll share her experience on national television Monday morning on ABC's Good Morning America with anchor Robin Roberts, who had breast cancer in 2007.
''What I realized through the year is, I thought I knew a lot about breast cancer, but I really didn't, and most young women don't,'' Wasserman Schultz said.
Breast cancer in younger women can be particularly aggressive, but it can be more difficult to detect because of breast density. And physicians, Wasserman Schultz said, can be slow to recognize the threat to younger women.
''Young women go skipping along through their life, thinking they're invincible, not worrying about breast cancer because they think of it as an older woman's disease,'' Wasserman Schultz said, noting that the focus is often on a woman's first mammogram, typically at 40.
The death rate from breast cancer has declined for older women, but remains stable for younger women because they are often diagnosed at a later stage, she said.
''It just pains me to know that younger women, because they don't know and because they're blown off by physicians many times, and because they squeeze their eyes shut and hope that it's nothing, that their death rate is much higher,'' she said.
Her bill calls for a national education campaign, aimed at informing young women about the risks and encouraging them to conduct routine self-exams.
Wasserman Schultz discovered a breast lump through a self-exam, two months after her first mammogram at 40. Although the cancer was detected at an early stage, she also learned that as an Ashkenazi Jew of Eastern European descent, she was at greater risk of carrying a gene mutation that makes Ashkenazi Jews predisposed to breast cancer and recurrance. She tested positive for this BRCA2 gene mutation, prompting her to have both breasts removed.
She was also at higher risk of ovarian cancer and had her ovaries removed -- the day after Election Day. Her final surgery was in December.
Because the cancer was caught so early, she didn't need chemotherapy or radiation but will take the cancer drug tamoxifen for five years.
She said she decided to keep her cancer private, concerned mostly that her young children (then 8-year-old twins and a 4-year-old daughter) would worry, particularly with a mother who was also constantly on the go. They knew she was undergoing surgery, but she didn't tell them the cause.
'I knew from my doctors that if I went through their recommended course of treatment that I would get through it and I'd be fine, that I could come out the other side and confidently tell my children, `Mommy's fine,' '' she said.
She scheduled her treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., during congressional recesses so she wouldn't miss votes in Congress.
THIRD TERM IN HOUSE
Wasserman Schultz is one of the most influential Democratic House members from Florida. She was easily reelected to her third term in November and is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
She said that keeping her illness to a small circle of family members and friends allowed her to ''maintain control'' over a situation that was otherwise out of control.
''I didn't want it to define me,'' she said. 'I didn't want when you wrote a story about me, I would become `Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is battling breast cancer.' I didn't want that to be my name because I knew I was going to be fine.''
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish beauty and impeccable actress who will always be remembered as Ilsa, Humphrey Bogart’s long lost lover in Casablanca, found a lump in her breast in 1973. She was living in London and appearing in the play, “The Constant Wife.” She was 58 years old. She didn’t go to the doctor right away because of the play. She said to her husband, “I’m in the play, and we’ve got a long run ahead. I can’t do anything for the moment.”
Several months went by, she not only continued with “The Constant Wife” but she also began filming Murder on the Orient Express. The play closed in 1974 and the lump was larger. She finally went to the London Clinic where she was told she had breast cancer. Back then, a woman went in for a biopsy and while still under anesthesia, the doctors tested the tumor. If it was found to be cancerous, an immediate radical mastectomy was performed. The patient does not know she has cancer until she wakes up and discovers her breast was removed. A radical mastectomy removed the breast, the lymph nodes, part of the chest wall and the pectoral muscle. It is a huge surgery and leaves the woman with a chest concavity and some level of disability in the arm of the affected side.
In her autobiography, she remembers how the doctor told her. She said, “The doctor came and I could read his face like an open book. I felt sorry for him because it must be an awful job to go around telling women they are mutilated.”
Like all breast cancer patients, she did her arm exercises. She recounts, “My arm felt useless and I could hardly lift it. But I did exercises and worked up the muscles in my hand and arm, and slowly I improved. I made pencil marks on my wardrobe door to see how high I could raise my arm.”
While filming Autumn Sonata in 1977 she found that her cancer had spread. She had another tumor removed from under her right arm followed by another radical mastectomy on the right breast after she found a large lump there. That surgery caused her to develop a severe form of lymphedema in her right arm.
As a last resort, she underwent chemotherapy. But this was only done after her cancer had spread. There were no drugs to control nausea then and it was very grueling. She never did chemotherapy in the early days of her diagnosis, only radiation, and unfortunately she was too late. It couldn’t help her at the point she was in her disease.
Ingrid Bergman died at the age of 67 on her birthday, on August 29, 1982
If Miss Bergman had been diagnosed today, she would have received a modified radical mastectomy that would not have left her debilitated. Chemotherapy would most likely have been started immediately. If her cancer was sensitive to hormones she would have been on aromatase inhibitors and would have lived a longer life with a better quality of life. Even her lymphedema would have been controlled better. Unfortunately, these things were not available to breast cancer patients in the 1970s, where even speaking of your cancer was not ever done in public.
Ingrid Bergman continued to act until her last days. She lived her life to the fullest and was ever-radiant, forever Ilsa. During her last acting role as Golda Meir, in her last days, she said,
“I would like to live my life as fully as I can until the last possible moment . At some point, you have to make peace with adverse circumstances … you have to bend. Bending is part of life.”
Sunday, March 15, 2009
It was a very small study - so keep that in mind.
I can tell you that THIS CHILD rode her bike everywhere, swam like fish and school sports included track, field hockey and ice skating. My mother never fed us junk. We never had Kool-Aid or HiC, she gave us milk, juice or Fresca. (OK the Fresca may not exactly be a health drink.)
We did have BB-Q steaks in the summer. Ice cream from the Good Humor truck (Chocolate Eclair and Strawberry shortcake)
I stopped eating meat at age 15.
Here is the study for what it is worth.
Breast cancer 'linked' to diet and low exercise in early years
London (PTI): Women on poor quality diet and low exercise in early years can develop breast cancer later in life, a new study has claimed.
Researchers in Europe have carried out the study and found that a girl's diet and the amount of exercise she does could actually determine their risk of breast cancer in later life, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
"Breast cancer seems to originate almost entirely in childhood. The breast is most vulnerable at the very onset of development," lead researcher Prof Jaak Janssens of European Cancer Prevention Organisation in Belgium said.
In fact, the researchers have based their findings on an analysis of 1,146 girls from birth to age 13. The study clearly linked obesity and lack of exercise to an increased risk of breast cancer.
The study, titled 'Nutrition in Children and Breast Cancer Childhood', highlighted a link between the disease and exposure to "gender-bending" chemicals in childhood. Moreover, it has revealed that a history of glandular fever might also have an influence on later risk.
"Further research should focus on nutrition in children and breast cancer risk to prevent the disease," Prof Janssens was quoted as saying.
Added Prof Florian Strasser, Scientific Chair of the conference for the European Society for Medical Oncology, where the study will be presented next week: "This could become a big public health issue.
"If this is proved we have even bigger grounds to go into schools and preschools and encourage more sports and healthier eating.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Not only has their worst fear been realized, but they are faced with the fact that they very well may have to do chemo again- forever.
This is not like your original diagnosis. When you first were told you had cancer, everyone talked of the "finish line" and "hang in there- you are almost done!" Now, no one talks about finishing. No one knows what the future holds and there is no way around the fear.
Once you have a plan in place and scans start to show stability and you live to hear words like "shrinking" and "resolved" your new reality takes hold.
Yes, you can live with mets. Yes, you can deal with cancer on a day to day basis. But it is not the same as non-metastatic disease. Metsters are like the Marines.
Throughout history, when regular battles are fought, the army, navy and air force did the day to day fighting, completed their tours and went back to being civilians. But when the really hairy battles had to be fought- the earth shaking, life altering battles like the taking of Iwo Jima and Normandy, who was sent? The Marines. And once you are a Marine - you are always a Marine.
Those of us who are early stage fight scary battles, but they end. The Marines go that extra mile and don't stop. Like metsters.
I know that many metsters are afraid to talk about their level of disease to early stage sisters for fear of scaring the crap out of them. But they are wrong.
When a Marine talks of the incredible battles he has waged, the regular military looks at them in awe and thinks, "Damn, I don't know if I could do that or be that strong. But I hope if I ever have to fight their battle, I pray I have their courage and grace." And that is how we early stagers feel about each of you.
Semper Fi, Sisters. You are awesome.
The worst part of bone mets is the pain they can cause. Thankfully, there are wonderful treatments to help with the pain while the mets are eliminated.
Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and anti- Her2 therapy all work on bone mets.
Bisphosphonates, like Zometa, are direct, targeted therapy that works wonders.
ASCO has announced in May of 2008 that COX-2 inhibitors, Celebrex, “can reduce the risk of bone metastases in patients with stage II and III breast cancer.” Further studies have shown that Celebrex helps treat existing mets as well.
What happens to the bone?
When mets attack your bone, they eat away layers of the bone and cause holes. These holes are called osteolytic lesions. Your bone’s repair system can’t repair these holes with normal bone and as it progresses osteoblastic bone lesions take their place. This is what makes bones weak and prone to breaking and painful. Bone mets can over produce calcium too, releasing too much calcium into your system, called the hypercalcemia of malignancy.
This is an area where the research has paid off.
Bisphoshonates can fill those “holes” and rebuild bones and help seal off any calcium leakages into the body.
Cox-2 inhibitors can help with pain and also help fight the spread of bone mets.
Since bones are so vital to the blood, chemo that targets new blood supply, like Avastin, go to the source to reverse bone mets.
New drugs, such as Sprycel, are showing great promise in the fight against bone metastasis.
Targeted radiation can help bone mets immensely, and when used in combo with chemotherapy it provides a powerful one-two punch.
If you are diagnosed with metastasis to the bone, you have an entire arsenal to use in your fight. Bone mets can be eliminated and you can become stable and even NED.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
You can now share your experiences on the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation's By Survivor - For Survivor Message Forum.
Here, you can blog about your cancer, share your fears and triumphs, all in the safety of the No Surrender Message Forum.
All you have to do is sign up and become a member.
Go HERE for more!