I'm a private chef with a focus on whole food, plant-based and sustainable animal protein. Basically it’s nutritionally dense food. I have had the opportunity to cook in some of the most amazing beautiful places for amazing clients. I took my love and passion for baked goods, (especially cookies) into a business opportunity. Sometime in May of 2007, I learned that this would change.
I was given a diagnosis that required me to reassess my future ability to support myself. I realized that running a physically demanding bakery operation, staying relevant and continuing to grow our business was more than I can handle. I wasn't an average 36-year-old product developer, I was also the visionary of our brand who just found out about a rare genetic mutation in the APC gene. I had a soft tissue sarcoma growing from the superior mesenteric artery. I also had thousands of pre-cancerous polyps in my colon, stomach and small bowel.
So, when we closed I went back to school and started on a degree in social work/ psychology. In late 2009, it was discovered that my illness was doing its thing and one of my polyps turned to cancer. By the time it was detected, it had grown to stage 2. I went for an opinion at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC. I'm not a huge fan of the modern medical system, but believed if I had any chance of surviving and surviving with my wishes as the driving force it would be there. Making the decision to become a patient allows me to be functional enough to take on this project. That may seem a little confusing, and that's because it is.
Typically, in this situation, complete removal of your colon is required, and you live with an external pooping system. I had three options at our first serious discussion, which were reduced to two after all the final diagnostics were completed. I was prepped and marked for an ileostomy procedure. I went to a special nurse and lived with a sharpie circle covered with medical waterproof adhesive, because my procedure was four days away.
Something unique happened. We initially discussed reattached partial colectomy. Yet when discussing prior to scheduling surgery, that option became near impossible. But for some reason, I may never understand the most likely option.
That took care of my current cancer situation in my colon, but not the growing and infiltrated intra-abdominal desmoid tumor. Due to its size and the organs it interferes with and has attached to, this can be fatal. So, we tried chemotherapy, and I picked up high blood pressure and chronic sharp and penetrating pain in the right mid-section of my abdomen. You can feel the tumor, which likes to press on things. This makes eating complex.
Most recently, I've graduated from a colon cancer survivor to a new colon cancer patient. This time, as per my oncologist, we will continue to monitor iron deficiency, yet, as the doctor wrote, “at the current severity of his health, administering treatments to treat his colon cancer would lesson his life and survival.”
My first thought was about my baked goods and confection company. After its closing in late 2008, I planned to become a licensed therapist. That way, I could work around my full-time symptom management from treatments and the illness my mutation presented.
Ten years later, I'm baking and consulting with people looking for ways to create and live a satisfying lifestyle.
Cooking and baking are part of my wellness regime. Going through college and chemotherapy, I would quell my anxiety in the kitchen. There are only so many conversations one can have with themselves about the crazy turn your life takes when cancer enters the equation. I don't have a Ph.D., or an M.D. after my name, yet I am someone who has been achieving goals while also adapting to the ever-changing state of my health. I’ve lived with my terminal diagnosis for 11 years. I have days where my entire body moves with pain, days where going to the bathroom causes pain and eating — whether its solid food, junk food, smoothies – causes pain.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like when cancer enters your life, but it’s important to remember that the dreams you had before diagnosis didn’t go away — at least that’s how it was for me. That's why I'm here doing this. I have been successful in so many areas of my life because of this critical situation, and I feel that the time has come to pass the gifts and knowledge I possess to make someone else's journey a little easier.
I never want someone to suffer. I have assembled a wealth of knowledge, resources and first-hand experiences that are being prepared to accomplish my mission