Happy New Year!

Hello 2020, Good bye 2019.

Happy New Year! For the first post of 2020 I’ve decided to do a little recap of all my restaurant reviews of 2019. The reason is that I went in for a 2nd bone marrow transplant in November, and haven’t been allowed to eat at restaurants at all since then (no restaurants, no berries or sprouts, and no food that isn’t cooked in my kitchen). The other reason is that I was super tired from the treatment, but more on that later in the Cancer Update.

  1. The Melt⭐⭐⭐⭐. This is a great little burger joint in the Stanford shopping center. We are here right before I checked in for my transplant. My last restaurant food for a while.
  2. The Fish Market.⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is my favorite fish market, the food is great, and you can pick up some fresh fish to take home.
  3. 21st Amendment Brewery⭐⭐⭐⭐. This place is all atmosphere, and it’s walking distance from Oracle Park. The food is pretty bomb too.
  4. Su-Dam.⭐⭐ A cute little Korean eatery in Palo Alto. I can’t say I love Korean food, and the place didn’t exactly exude charm, but they do get an A for effort.
  5. Osteria.⭐⭐⭐ This is the place to go if you want authentic Italian food in an authentic Italian setting. From the wine to the tablecloths it’s the whole package.
  6. Celia’s Mexican Restaurant⭐⭐⭐⭐. So delicious, I ate too much! Which is usually the case at Mexican restaurants; me self control flies out the window as soon as I’m faced with a plate of refried beans.
  7. Surf Rider Cafe.⭐⭐⭐⭐ My favorite thing about this restaurant was the fried avocados. I thought it sounded disgusting before I tasted them…My other favorite thing was the amazing chocolate cake. I mean AMAZING.
  8. Nick’s on Fisherman’s Wharf⭐⭐. This is a hidden little Gem that obviously dates back to the 40s judging by the architecture. The seafood was super fresh, and delicious.
  9. Buca Di Beppo.⭐⭐⭐ More Italian food in downtown Palo Alto. The food is delicious, and make sure you bring a big appetite because the portions are huge.
  10. Chef Chu’s. I⭐⭐⭐⭐’ve been wanting to try this place for a while – it’s a quaint family run place. The menu here is huge, so there is a LOT to choose from.
  11. Crow’s Nest. ⭐⭐⭐⭐This great little restaurant is right on the water, and for some reason, fish just tastes so much better when you’re on the water.

So, that’s it in a nutshell for 2019. I can’t wait to try more places this year (I mean, I really can’t wait!). I have a few places in mind that I’d like to try, places that we’ve driven by…. but can’t stop at just yet. Just 42 more days. Give or take….

I can’t wait to eat one of these 😊😊

The Cancer Update

Well. 2019 you were exhausting. Last January, at the beginning of 2019, I thought I was heading into a new year, cancer free. I was ready to start getting back to work (or so I thought) and back to my life in general. But… in January I started getting this rash, and some joint pain. I had a brief moment of fear that this might be the cancer returning, but I had no other symptoms, so I quickly dismissed my fears. Of course I told my doctor about the rash. It was getting looked into, but since I had just had a bone marrow transplant, the doctor didn’t really seem too concerned about it either. I eventually had an appointment with a dermatologist in Stanford, and she said immediately that my cancer was probably hiding out in my skin – that she sees it all the time. I didn’t want to hear that, and so I ignored it. Three biopsies and one week later, I had to face reality. And get my booty back to Stanford to see my oncologist to ‘discuss my options’. Kind of a rocky start to 2019. Fortunately for me, it turns out my options were pretty good – as a patient, you’re always in good hands at Stanford.

Fast forward to Novemeber, and the long awaited 2nd bone marrow transplant (what I actually had was a stem cell transplant). This time I had a donor – my sister. She is a sibling, and a perfect 10 out of 10 match. It doesn’t get better than that, so the odds of this thing working this time are pretty good.

My treatment before the transplant was an immunotherapy treatment, which can be a great alternative to chemotherapy. It was a trial, and I’m very thankful it worked for me; I’m also thankful the side effects were so minimal, I felt very healthy and normal. So healthy and normal that I was dreading the transplant, because I knew that during the next few weeks and months I would not be feeling so great. I was right, only I had underestimated how awful I would be feeling. I don’t know if it was the ATG treatment (which is a rabbit protein derivative) or the radiation that made me feel so very tired, but something sure did lay me flat out on my back. I was soooooo tired, even watching TV even made me feel exhausted. Showering was a monumental task. I know, I sound pathetic. I felt pretty pathetic too. My ‘team’ told me the best exercise for me would be to walk a lot. Uh….no. I was definitely not feeling like doing much of that. I just wanted to feel better.

Thankfully, that phase only lasted about 4 weeks or so. Which is kind of a long time to feel awful, but now that I feel better and have my energy back, it just seems like a minor speed bump. Now the challenge is patience, because I feel so good, and I’m doing so well according to the blood tests, that I feel ready to go home and get on with life. Unfortunately I have to stay here until 90 days post transplant. I’m a little over halfway at this point. Day 48 as a matter of fact. But who’s counting?

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2020!!

Our cozy home away from home.

Next up: trishlovesfood covers bay area hiking trails. 😉

Crow’s Nest

The Crow’s Nest

This place is quite the little gem tucked away in the southern part of Santa Cruz. It’s located right on the water’s edge near a marina, the constant soft clanging from sailboats and the seagulls are the accompaniment to your dinner if you are fortunate enough to snag an outdoor table. I definitely recommend making reservations ahead of time if you want to eat here, as it is quite popular. 

The gorgeous views

Of course we started with cocktails and the bread, lately I’ve had a thing for Bloody Mary’s, so I thought I would see how well they do them at this place. They didn’t disappoint me, thankfully, and C had some craft beer that seemed to go down pretty smoothly. 

Bloody Mary and Clam Chowder

Next up for me was a nice cup of clam chowder, I’m a sucker for clam chowder, and this was definitely delicious. I wish I could eat more of it, but I really have to stick to a small cup if I want to enjoy my dinner. C had himself not one, but two shrimp cocktails, because the first one was so good he decided to get a chaser. 

Shrimp Cocktail

And then there was dinner. I had the Sand Dabs, which is a type of white fish, very thinly sliced, coated in parmesan cheese and pan fried. Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve never had Sand Dabs before, but these were so soft and buttery I managed to clean my plate. Mostly. 

C had the Pacific Rim Chicken Breast. Now, I’m not usually a fan of chicken at restaurants, but this meal was amazing. The chicken was tender and juicy, and very flavorful, I definitely recommend it. Unfortunately, we were so excited to eat the main course, that we dove right in without documentation. Nope, no pictures of the main course. Sorry! It was delicious even if there are no instagram pictures to prove it.  

There was no room for desert, but we made up for that the next day after my Stanford appointment. Bonus review: La Baguette in the Stanford Mall has these amazing chocolate strawberry pastries. They are a delicious as they look. That thing didn’t stand a chance. 

Chocolate Strawberry pastry.

The Cancer Report

Well, that was quite a week! It was a little more intense than I had anticipated. To say the least. My Doctor said this would be a more gentle approach, because they would be using an immunosuppressant instead of the normal chemo drugs. Well….. my body did not agree with that statement. The immunosuppressant is made with rabbit proteins, something they fondly refer to as ‘bunny juice’ in the world of bone marrow transplants. It sounds funny, but it didn’t feel funny. Bunny. Monday afternoon/evening were pretty rough – fevers, chills, vomiting. All the typical stuff associated with chemo. But then, that’s why they had me check in to the hospital for the first three days of treatment. When they told me that my body would tolerate the treatment a little better each time, I had a hard time believing it, but they were right. By Wednesday night I was walking out of the hospital a free woman (with a giant face mask, but so what). So happy to be out. Ecstatic actually. Now the trick is staying out of the hospital, and that just means being super careful about my health. Today is Friday and I’m receiving my last dose of the bunny juice, and I had my fifth radiation treatment this morning as well. The radiation is a breeze compared to the rest of it. Next week I have four more days of radiation, and then on Friday I’ll be getting the stem cell transplant from my sister. And then it will get a little easier as far as appointments go, three days a week instead of of daily appointments. That will be so much nicer than coming here every day. 

Super Mask

I’ve just seen so much this past week, it’s sensory overload. A lot of nurses from when I had my first bone marrow transplant are still here. It was nice to see them again, except for the circumstances of course. And then there are all the other patients, I definitely know I’m not alone in this. There are a LOT of people with cancer, and a LOT of people getting the exact same treatment that I’m getting. For the most part people seem pretty upbeat about it. There is a woman sitting across from me right now, she is about 10 years younger than I am, and just beautiful. She is almost all the way through here treatment. And she doesn’t look worried about the future. She has three children, 16, 14, and 10 waiting for her at home, and she seems perfectly calm about stepping back into her role in life. I’m sitting here admiring her, and hoping I can be as dignified as she is. I just have to get through this one hard week first and then I can start to recover from this. 

And then there is the house situation, people have asked us, “does Stanford provide a place for you to stay?” Um, no. Or, “does the insurance cover that?” Also, no. Either of those things would be really nice, but nope, they do not do that. What they do, is tell you that you must stay locally, within an hour of the hospital, and good luck. Well, we found a great little casita, which is actually someone’s guest house, and we are able to rent it for the next three months. The landlord is a very nice Greek man, who is very generous and seems to want to help out with everything. Also, his wife is a surgeon, so I guess that’s helpful, but hopefully we won’t need her services. 

All in all, it has been a good week, and I am thankful to have survived it. True story.     

Happy it’s Friday.
Favorite new mug with a morning view.

Chef Chu’s

Adventures in Food indeed. The menu here is a little intimidating, but once you get past the fact that it’s so big, you will see that this place has a lot to offer. There are so many delicious looking items to order, I think I could eat here every week for a year and get something different and delicious every single time. 

Guess where we sat? At the bar of course. Well, in our defense, it was 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday, and I’m quickly learning that asian restaurants are where people go for Sunday dinner in Palo Alto. So it was a little busy, and there were exactly 2 seats left in the entire place – at the bar. The nice thing about sitting at the bar is if you have no idea what to order, the bartender will be more than happy to help you out with your selection. Also, he will give you a small history lesson on the restaurant, and the family who owns the restaurant, and how he himself is married to the owner’s niece. Because it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. 

Fried prawns.

So… we started off with a nice cocktail, and some really delicious fried prawns… yeah, they were so good we actually ordered a 2nd round of appetizers. Oof. It’s safe to say I was pretty full before my main dish arrived. 

Kung Pao Chicken

I ordered the Kung pao chicken with fried rice, and C had the orange chicken. It was all served family style, which really makes it so much easier to share meals. I appreciate that. The Kung pao chicken was really tasty, I was afraid it would be too spicy to enjoy, but I took a chance and ordered it anyway. It was perfect, I love the spicy nuts in the sweet sauce over a bed of rice. Yum. Sadly, I was too full to eat very much of the orange chicken that C had ordered. I tried a little bite of it, and it was really tasty. As we were finishing our meal, we noticed the man a little further down the bar had ordered the lamb chops, and uh, they looked delicious. We’ll definitely be back for more of Chef Chu’s. 

Entrance to Chef Chu’s

Until we eat again…

The cancer update

Things are happening! My nurse coordinator finally called me with a start date for my bone marrow transplant, yay! Sort of yay. I’m not exactly looking forward to my 3 and a half month exile from my home, but yay because we can get this thing over with. The start date has already been changed from November 3rd to November 10th. Which was totally fine with me. One more week in my home, one more week to hang out with my daughter and do ‘normal’ senior year stuff with her. One more week before I have to wear that gas mask every time I go outside.  

Now that the ball is rolling, there is so much to do. It seemed like we were waiting and waiting, and just going to the trial clinic appointments without too much going on really. It was the calm before the storm. And now, it’s appointment after appointment to get all the tests done before they can start this thing. I’m almost getting a type of performance anxiety, like I need to be the picture of health before they’ll let me do the transplant. That’s not the case if course, I’m just used to be declared healthy when I’m at the dr. (before I had the cancer of course).

The other thing had me (super) stressed is finding a place to stay while during treatment. I only have to be in the hospital for 5 days (Lord willing), but for 3 months after that they want me near the hospital. No small order in this expensive, overpopulated part of the world. We found a suitable place in Los Gatos. It’s in the ‘safe zone’ according to the ‘Analogus Bone Marrow Transplant’ catalog they gave me. It’s a riveting piece of literature, with everything you never wanted to know about a Bone Marrow Transplant. 

It’s all good, and God’s got this. I shouldn’t be overwhelmed, or feel worried about any of it. I just keep telling myself that, and I know there is an army of prayer warriors standing behind me lifting me up. Thank you to all of you. 🙂

I’m still getting used to these curls.

Until next time….

Buca di Beppo

A seat at the bar in Buca di Beppo

Well. I’ve taken quite the vacation from this blog, haven’t I? I have to admit, I’m feeling  a little rusty, like I might not be able to write anymore, but I’m going to give a good try. Here goes nothing. 

On our most recent trip to Stanford we found ourselves wandering the streets of downtown Palo Alto with no specific plan. I mean, we love food, so we had an outline of a plan to find some pizza. We just weren’t in complete agreement on where to eat the pizza. I wanted to go to this upscale place with a swank patio, C had another restaurant in mind. Both eateries have phenomenal pizza – we know because we’ve eaten at both of them before. So….what are two foodies to do??? I won the coin toss and we headed over to the swanky patio pizza place. Unfortunately, it was a 45 minute wait to sit out on the patio (on a Monday night?), and so we headed out the door in search of some other great place to eat. As we were walking down the street our noses led us straight into the kitchen of …. Buca di Beppo. The front door is in the kitchen. Nicely played Buca, nicely played. I mean, the aroma! Absolutely mouthwatering. My nose didn’t know what hit me. 

We asked for a table for two, and there was a bit of a wait (again, this is on a Monday night), so we sat down at the bar while we were waiting. Of course, we ended up eating at the bar, because eating at the bar is the best. For some reason it’s just so much better. I don’t know why. 

Ok, so we started with the fried calamari with spicy marinara sauce for our appetizer. They were very tasty, four stars for sure. It’s all about the sauce though, I don’t know how they do it at Buca, but all the sauces were amazing. I knew I wanted to save some room for my dinner this time, so I was pretty careful with the appetizer (I might be lying… I tried to be careful with the appetizer). 

Fried calamari and spicy marinara

Dinner. Was. Amazing. 

We ordered two entrees and shared them because neither one of us could decide what to order. So, we got the Eggplant Parmigiana, and a chicken dish I can’t pronounce or spell (I later found out it was the Chicken Saltimbocca), but I know it came with an amazing buttery sauce that was to die for.

Eggplant Parmigiana
Chicken Saltimbocca

In case you’re concerned… we took a lot of food home with us in those little styrofoam boxes, but you know what we forgot to order? Pizza.

Until next week…

The cancer update

On this last visit to Stanford I had multiple appointments with all the different teams of doctors involved in my case. Sorry, I’m being overly dramatic. There are only two teams, plus the people who take my blood. The first appointment was with the oncologist in charge of the Bone Marrow Transplant. He has his own pre- and post-transplant nurse coordinators, and quite a crew of people working in that department. It’s impressive and a little intimidating at times. But, they are all super nice and caring and I know that I’m in good hands with these people. 

The next appointment was with the trial drug doctors, and their nurses and interns and assistants (and the photographer – don’t forget the photographer). There are two doctors on this research team, and I have a lot of faith in both of them, and their team. 

So after my latest PET scan and the bloodwork I’d had done that morning, all the doctors on both teams agreed that it was time to move forward with the planning for the Bone Marrow Transplant. OK. Finally. Granted, that was two weeks ago, and I still don’t have a start date…. I don’t know how long it takes to plan something like this, but apparently, it’s more that two weeks. Not that I’m complaining. I like where I’m at right now. I feel great, and I know that the Bone Marrow Transplant is going to be a  bit of an ordeal and that I might now feel so great. And quite frankly, I don’t want to do it. If I had it my way, I’d stay on these immunotherapy drugs for the rest of my life. I mean, some people take insulin all the time – why can’t I just take these pills forever? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the smart people up at Stanford are recommending this Bone Marrow thing, and I’m going to follow their advice. I may even get to do a trial for the Transplant, and it sounds like it’s a little gentler than the usual treatment. I’m praying super hard that I get to do that. I will keep you all up to date on what is happening. Sorry for the long wait…. Thank you, thank you all for the prayers and support!!

Downtown Palo Alto at night

Nick’s – Fisherman’s Wharf

Oops, it looks like I took a bit of a vacation…. I’m sorry… I was just trying to get caught up at home, and then I realized the futility of that and decided to just get back to writing. What my mother always said is true: a woman’s work is never done haha (she just loved cliches, I think I could write a book about all her little sayings). Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever be caught up completely, but a girl can hope. 

This last time we were up at Stanford for my June appointment, the Dodgers were also in the bay area playing the Giants. We made a nice weekend of it and spent the night in San Francisco. We stayed at a super hip hotel, Hotel Zoe in the Fishermans Wharf area, I definitely recommend this little hotel. It was cute and modern, and the price was very reasonable considering the location.  

It was a 1:00 game, and I think it was the hottest weekend in the history of San Francisco ever. I enjoy summer, and you won’t usually hear me complaining about the heat, but it was pretty darn hot at that game. It was fun though, and the Dodgers won, so we were happy fans. I should mention that I’m married to a ‘Super Dodger fan’, C wore his Dodger Jersey and Dodger baseball cap proudly all around San Francisco, it made for some great conversations. After the game we headed to 21st Amendment for some refreshments….the problem was – everyone else that had been at the game was  thinking the same thing. So…. We went exploring. And ended up at Nicks Lighthouse. It’s in the heart of the Fishermans Wharf area, tucked in behind the street vendors selling chowder in bread bowls and crab sandwiches. It’s almost a sensory overload, with all the sights and sounds and smells all around, especially on an extra warm Sunday afternoon in the City by the Bay. Judging by the architecture and quaint styling of the little restaurant, this place has been in business since WWII, maybe longer. 

All the good stuff.

We started off with an appetizer, shrimp cocktail, which was very refreshing, and a little cup of clam chowder (that’s just a must when you’re near the ocean). For the main course I ordered a Caesar salad with shrimp, and C had the deep fried sample platter with a little bit of everything. We shared each others plates, and all of it was pretty delicious.

For desert we took a little walk down to Ben and Jerry’s, because you can’t beat ice cream on a hot day, and even though I try really hard not to eat sugary foods, I felt like it was a good day for a cheat meal. My favorite is chocolate ice cream with peanut butter, and lucky me, they had it, and it wasn’t all melty like it sometimes is at the local ice cream place. I don’t remember what C had, but it was in a waffle cone, and I know he enjoyed the heck out of that.

We don’t have to return to Stanford until the beginning of July, and I’m enjoying the much needed rest at home. So, until next time….

The cancer update

This was the last week of so many weeks in a row at Stanford. After this appointment I don’t have to return for 4 weeks! I’m really looking forward to spending Sundays at home, not packing up and heading for Palo Alto. 

This last appointment went really well. We got the confirmation once again that the PET scan is clear, which is to say that none of the concerning lymph nodes were lighting up on the PET test. THAT’S really great news! I could feel it in my body, the weird aches and pains in my hands and wrists I’d had since the middle of January were completely gone, as is the pesky rash. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

Now we are moving forward with the current treatment for two more months, and then we will start to prepare for the bone marrow transplant. The Dr.s are trying to get me into a clinical trial for the transplant as well, and I’ll be having immunotherapy and radiation for treatment during the transplant. In other words: no more chemotherapy (I really hope they don’t change their minds on this) This makes me so happy! Even though I didn’t experience much of the side effects from chemo, I don’t want to lose my hair again, or feel so tired and weak again. Let me just say, I prefer immunotherapy to chemo. 

Superfan, he sort of stole the show lol.
More bloodwork

To be continued…..

Surfrider Cafe

Down town Santa Cruz has some pretty sweet little restaurants. We found this one on Yelp, I think it was the pictures of the deep fried avocados that got our attetion.

Deep fried avocados? Yes please!

We decided to head straight to Santa Cruz on Sunday before we went to Palo Alto, just so we could spend a little time at the beach. Of course food was on my mind….the last two times we were in Santa Cruz, the places we ate were not worth mentioning. I was starting to worry about the city of Santa Cruz, did they have any good restaurants? This time, upon arrival, we stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee, and asked the locals where to eat. They told us about a very nice place, and we actually made reservations there, but then in the meantime, we found the Surfrider Cafe on Yelp and decided on that. We both wanted to try those avocados. They did not dissapoint. Our waitress told us that that’s what they’re known for. I bet. Wow. Just wow. So, these little slices of (perfect) avocado are lightly breaded, or rather rolled in bread crumbs and then deep-fried to perfection.

All good stuff right here.

Of course then we had still had the main course coming. I had the sliders, with more sliced of avocado as you can see, and crispy fried onion slices. C had grilled fish and fries (fish and chips done healthy) with a couple of prawns. It was all delicious!

Double brownie delight.

For some reason we thought we needed desert. We did not. But I’m not sorry we ordered it. It was supposed to be a warm brownie with ice cream but we asked her to just bring the brownie. So she substituted another brownie for the ice cream, just stacked them on top of each other (what smart waitress). The whole thing was dripping with chocolate sauce and covered in whipped cream. With a cherry on top. Oh my….yeah. That was an amazing desert. To our credit, we didn’t finish it. We could’ve, but we didn’t.

This place is on my list of places to go back to. I highly recommend it.

Until next week…

The cancer update

Officially this was supposed to be an ‘rest’ week. But… the trial experts needed to have some test results to check my progress and to see if the drug is working and, also how well it’s working. So Monday found us once again in Palo Alto. I really can’t complain, it’s a beautiful place to hang out, but a week off from hospital stuff is pretty nice too. Anyway, this past Monday I had to have a PET scan done at Stanford. In case you’re wondering what a PET scan is, let me tell you. They inject you with a radioactive solution and let you sit for about 45 minutes so that can work it’s way through your body. Then they lay you down on a giant table that slides into a corresponding giant tube to ‘scan’ you. I’m a little claustrophobic, so I really have to tell myself not to think about being trapped in a small space. Just close my eyes and try to take a nap. No thinking, just napping. After 25 minutes or so it’s all over. That’s it in a nutshell. 

Normally it takes a week to get the results from the test, which I’m fine with, I don’t sit by the phone waiting for them to call. I feel fine, I don’t need a test to tell me that I’m feeling better. But a really awesome (wonderful, miraculous, blessed) thing happened this week. One of the trial team members called me the day after the PET scan to tell me the results of the scan. She said it’s really good news, there was no suspicious activity. The lymph nodes, the ones they were keeping an eye on, are shrinking. Hallelujah!!! Happy dance, happy dance!! The little pills I take every day, twice a day, are doing their job. Praise the Lord! I can’t say it often enough how grateful I am for Stanford and the doctors there. God is an awesome God. Yes he is.

Progress 🙂

To be continued….

Celia’s Mexican Restaurant.

This week we celebrated Memorial Day in Palo Alto at a sweet little Mexican restaurant called Celia’s. It’s on the main drag – you guessed it – El Camino Real in Palo Alto. Have I mentioned that I have zero self control once I enter any Mexican restaurant? Oh my goodness, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so full! Yikes. The food was that good people. 

It’s so cute here.

It being a holiday, I ordered a Corona, and C ordered an IPA, which just so happened to be from the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, where we had had such a great dinner a couple of weeks ago. We ordered Ceviche (they served it with guacamole – yum!) and mini Chimichangas for our appetizer in addition to the standard tortilla chips and salsa you get at most Mexican restaurants. We had skipped lunch, so we were pretty hungry and – well, we demolished those poor little appetizers. Yummmmm!!! Seriously. 

Chile Verde

For the main course I had a Chile Relleno, with a red meat sauce poured over it. Oh my goodness – I was actually already full from the ceviche by the time my dinner came, but it was so good I ate all of it anyway. The only thing I would have done differently is order the chili Relleno without the meat sauce, just the plain Relleno with cheese please. And rice and beans of course. C had the chili Verde with rice and beans, he’s on a mission to try Chili Verde at every Mexican restaurant we visit. I’m pretty sure he mentioned being full by the time his main dish was served as well, but I’m not really sure, because I was too busy stuffing my face with the cheesy yumminess from my plate. 

Chile Relleno

There was no room for desert. Nope, no room whatsoever, but dinner was delicious, and we will be coming back to this charming little restaurant. 

Thank you Celia. 

Bonus Review – The Fruit stands all along Pacheco Pass

The cutest fruit stand.

I love these little fruit stands, they’re adorable. The fruit is just amazing! It’s like a farmers market all along the Pacheco pass between Casa de Fruta and the 101 in Gilroy. I’m seriously spoiled now. The strawberries, and the cherries are the plumpest, juiciest, sweetest I’ve ever had. According to all the fruit stand owners this is kind of an ‘off’ year because of the colder, wetter weather.  I’m not complaining, everything is still delicious – and being a farmers daughter I have this mantra stuck in my head all the time: ‘we need the rain.’  In addition to all the awesome fruit, there are a couple of places along the way that have some really great ‘extras’. For instance you can get garlic ice cream (or even chocolate-garlic ice cream) if you want to try that. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not for me….but, they also sell these other amazing ice cream treats. They’re kind of like a Magnum or Hagen Das, but home made. The ice cream is home made and then that is dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in roasted almonds. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s worth the drive I promise.  

I love this planter!

I could go on and on, but I think that’s enough food wisdom for now.

Until next week….

The cancer update

It’s a Wednesday, so I’m definitely late with this update, my apologies to you, my readers.  Last week was the first time in a very long time that we did not have to drive up to Stanford for appointments and I had every intention of getting a blog out, but it just didn’t happen. I do have cancer after all, and I’m supposed to be taking it easy. I was not taking it easy. When you’re gone as much as we are, you spend your time at home playing catch up. Catching up with the housework, the laundry, the mail, the bills, the yard work, your friends. Everything. And I love every minute of it, it’s all a blessing at this point.

And then because of the Memorial Day holiday, my appointment was on Tuesday instead of Monday. One more day of rest for my veins – they needed it!

It was another great appointment. First they took my blood, just to make sure my body is tolerating this new drug. And yes, everything looked good.  My veins were indeed happy to have last week off from being poked so the blood draw was a little easier this time. I ran my standard laps around the CTRU (the lab in Stanford where I get my blood drawn) to get warmed up and get my blood pumping. Don’t make fun, this is what seems to work for me. Then we met with Dr. Meyer, he’s my Bone Marrow Transplant Dr., he is just such a very friendly and caring Dr. He makes me feel like everything is going to be all right. He was able to clear up a few questions we had about the pending transplant. My sister is a match, so that’s really awesome. It’s very strange (wonderful?) how little I worry about any of this. I mean, I have cancer. I should probably be worried, but I’m not. I’ve been trusting God through all of this that he will take care of everything, and he really has (Stanford? what a blessing that place has been!). I think when Dr. Meyer first mentioned the Bone Marrow transplant using a donor this time around, I had a slight twinge of ‘oh no – what if they can’t find a match?’ But then I told myself immediately that was not something I needed to worry about quite yet. And before it even became any kind of an issue they had found that my sister was a perfect match, plus four strangers on the donor registration who are also a perfect match. What a miracle. What a blessing.

To be continued….

Osteria. A little slice of Italy

A little slice of Tuscany in Palo Alto

We tried this little Italian restaurant about a year ago on a whim and loved it so much that my sweet husband made reservations to surprise me for Mother’s Day. He wanted to do something special for me since we had to be up in Palo Alto again on this special day. 

It’s located in the heart of downtown Palo Alto, and it’s just so quaint. We were seated right by the window so we could do plenty of people watching during dinner. Of course right across the street is another restaurant that looks pretty cool. Next week we’ll check that place out.

It was good. It was very good.

We started with a nice smooth glass of Italian cabernet. It paired quite nicely with the bread and olive oil they served before the appetizers came out. We ordered the Italian meatballs in a red sauce for our appetizer, which is definitely a change of pace for me. I think I always go for the bruschetta at any Italian restaurant. But since I was planning on a meatless entree, meatballs seemed like a good choice. They did not disappoint. I love Italian meatballs, and the fact that they weren’t on a bed of spaghetti noodles only enhanced their flavor. 

Next up was the dinner salad, butter leaf lettuce with blue cheese crumbles and Italian dressing. A-mazing! I’ve recently developed a thing for blue cheese. I love it. Which is weird, because I used to hate blue cheese. 

The entree that I ordered was delicious. Spinach ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese in a red sauce. I cleaned up my plate that’s for sure. C’s dinner was a little less exciting (they can’t all be good). It was one of the specials of that day; the menu said ‘Duck leg’, and since he’s always wanted to try duck he went ahead and ordered it. It was definitely not a duck leg. It was maybe a fraction of a duck leg, shredded up with a lot of noodles in a butter sauce. Not quite what you have in mind when you order  $34 worth of duck leg. We usually ask the waiter/waitress for recommendations, and for some reason we didn’t this time. We will definitely be doing that from now on that’s for sure. Lesson learned. 

Everything else was delicious, I’m not sure what my favorite dish was. I loved the bread with the olive oil. There were little flavorful pieces of olives in the olive oil, and the bread was super fresh and soft. The meatballs were pretty yummy too, but I think the wine just tied it all together. 

Until next week…

The cancer update

Another week at the Stanford clinic. It’s starting to feel like our home away from home. At every visit they I’m asked to fill out a little survey about how I’m feeling on a scale of one to ten. I circle a nine every time because I really do feel great, but I have cancer so I can’t really circle a ten. I still don’t see how I can be feeling so good and have cancer, it doesn’t make sense. Half the time I feel like I’m faking it. That being said, I guess it’s a huge blessing that I had that rash to indicate that the cancer was still camping out in my body. Because if it wasn’t for the rash, the doctors probably wouldn’t have detected this until it was much more advanced. I thank God for that ‘gift’ every day.

I never thought I could get so excited about my blood test results. I’m sitting here, and it’s a Tuesday morning (yes I know, I’m a day late with the blog) and I keep checking my phone for my test results. I knew they were decent because if they are too low or just off then the doctors will discontinue the treatment. Which, honestly, kind of scares the crap out of me. That’s why I am so diligent about making sure I eat enough of the right kind of food. It’s a little nerve wracking every Monday morning playing the ‘will my counts be good?’ game. I’ve had to completely reverse my relationship to food. I basically just eat everything my dad can’t – he’s a heart patient – and then I add in a lot of leafy greens and try to get a shot of wheat grass every day.  Starving myself to lose weight right now is not an option. It turns out eating (good) food is healthy. Who knew? 

The appointments are getting easier, and shorter, thank goodness. This time we were out of there by 11:00 a.m. This is how it works: when you have an appointment with a cancer doctor at 9:00 a.m. you actually have an appointment at at the lab at 8:00 a.m. because they want you there an hour early for blood work. That way they can have the results of the blood tests at your actual appointment. And you want to be a little early for that 8:00 a.m. thing just in case it’s busy in the lab, and you must always plan extra time for the traffic. After the blood is collected (which can be an ordeal all by itself because my veins are a little scarred from chemo, and not very big to begin with, they usually use a pediatric needle on me) we head over to the lymphoma clinic and wait to be called back to a little room. It’s usually a short wait, they are pretty streamlined there. They ‘take my vitals’ temp, blood pressure, heart-rate, and oxygen level, then I get my pictures taken (still don’t really like this part), and then we wait for all the doctors to come in. Yesterday there were 6 lab coats in the room with us. They ask a lot of questions, it is a research project after all, someone checks all my lymph nodes and my skin, go over my lab results, and send me on my way. This is all going so well, the doctors are very happy with the way things are going. It’s all such an answer to prayer.

I just hope and pray it things keep going so well.

 to be continued….

Su-Dam

Su-Dam.

Tonight ‘Adventures in Food’ took us to Su-Dam, one of the many asian restaurants in Palo Alto. On this particular Sunday night, we had a hard time choosing a place to eat. And since it’s called Adventures in Food, we decided to in fact be adventurous. We took a short walk from our hotel because we were heading to a place called Chef Chu’s – it looked promising, but for some reason we decided to check out the restaurants in the strip mall before we crossed the street over to Chef Chus. In the strip mall there was a Chinese restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, and a Korean place as well as a couple of other restaurants. So many places to choose from, plus I think there were a couple more places around the corner that we noticed when we were leaving. 

Chicken wings – Korean style

We chose Su-Dam because of the chicken wing special they were running that evening. It just sounded really good, and they were delicious. They were covered with a sweet teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. One order was enough for us to get started, but because they weren’t quite perfect, they brought us an extra order. We don’t turn down free food lol. 

It was a pretty cool little restaurant. They started us off with a very cool looking bottle of water and some complimentary appetizers – we didn’t know they would be serving these. Cool surprise. I had no idea what we were eating, but it was pretty tasty. I found our later what the appetizers actually were, and honestly, it’s a probably a good thing I didn’t know what we were eating because I wouldn’t have tried it with an open mind. I’m way too picky to have eaten those things had I known what it was. 

Glass noodles

Our main course consisted of Bul Go Gi (Korean beef) with rice and coleslaw., and something called Glass noodles with shrimp (I had a hard time finding the shrimp, it was heavy on the noodles and light on the shrimp) I’ve never heard of glass noodles before, but I’m pretty brave when it comes to trying new things. I don’t think I’ll order them again though. Too many carbs. The beef was pretty delicious, and fortunately there was enough for sharing. 

We liked Su-Dam, it was a great low key place to eat on a Sunday night in Palo Alto. One more restaurant down…a thousand more to try. If you know of any great places we should try, we would love your suggestions for where to go next. 

Until next week….

The cancer update

This is week four of the food blog, week 63 of me having cancer. Sort of. I mean, for a while there between September and January, I thought I was in remission. It was like I had a short vacation from cancer. A vacation where I stayed home, rested, grew my hair back and worked like crazy get back in shape. I’m ashamed to say I never realized how blessed I was before. If I ever get to go back to work training people (I was a personal trainer in my previous life) I will be a much better trainer. I’ll have a better understanding of all levels of fitness and I will have more compassion. 

Let me tell you a little bit about my new treatment. It’s an immunotherapy drug. Immunotherapy targets the sick/cancer cells growing in my body, as opposed to chemotherapy which just kills all the cells (that’s why the hair falls out). Mine is a trial drug, and I’m patient #96. It has worked for most of the 95 people who have tried it before me, and the doctors were eager to have me try this drug because there is actually another person with my exact symptoms for whom it has been working wonders. When they introduced the idea to me I was very red and itchy. I was probably a little nervous because I get anxious when I meet new people anyway, and I was meeting about 7 or 8 of them at once, so I was definitely blushing. And that blushing would get taken over by the rash, my ears would turn bright red and be on fire, I could feel my cheeks burning, and there was nothing I could do about it. They were telling me about another patient who had the rash as well – it’s called Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma I believe – and the doctors said that the rash went away within two weeks of starting the trial drug. Sign me up! First and foremost I wanted to be free of the rash and the itching. It worked for me the first day, I was so happy! 

There is one tricky thing about the treatment: I have to take it on an empty stomach. So I have to fast for two hours before and 1 hour after I take the medicine. It’s not that hard, it’s just a little interesting with meals and such. I definitely lost weight the first week, not from being nauseous or anything, just from not eating for those periods of time. Overall it’s a pretty easy fix so far. I feel great, and I have a lot of energy so I am HAPPY. 

Me and the dogs on the patio enjoying a much needed week off from Stanford

This month we start going to Stanford every other week. Thankfully. We’ve been going up there every single week for the past 10 weeks, a week off from the drive is pretty nice.

to be continued….

21st Amendment Brewery

Dodgers fans in the house.

Ok, yes, I’m a day or two late with my blog this week, but trust me when I say it was worth the wait. We ventured off the beaten path…and rewarded ourselves with a day in San Francisco and a ball game. The Giants were playing the Dodgers, and C is a huge Dodgers fan so we decided to have a little fun for a change after my appointments. While we were there we took full advantage of the delicious eats the city by the bay has to offer. We asked the concierge at our hotel for a few recommendations and after walking around a bit we landed at a little microbrewery called The 21st Amendment Brewery. What a cute little pub, it had a great bar, nice atmosphere in the restaurant, with an open kitchen, and a great little outdoor patio. It would’ve been nice to sit outside on the patio, but it was a little chilly plus all the tables seemed to be taken out there. Inside was pretty cool though, and we had a great waiter – Alejandro.

Naturally we started with a couple of craft beers that went down pretty  smooth with our fried calamari, which was also delicious. Let me just back up a bit here: we had had a couple of not so delicious meals on this trip. Sunday night we ended up in some little Mexican restaurant that should never be remembered. Ever. And then our lunch on Monday – well, we actually got our money back because it was so bad. Thankfully everything we ordered at The 21st Amendment more than made up for the not so delicious food we had at those other restaurants.  The beer and calamari were a great combination to start off the afternoon. 

We weren’t even sure if we were going to order dinner, until we saw the menu. First I wanted to try the Fish and Chips, then I thought maybe pizza…. But when I saw that they had baby back ribs on the menu I was sold. C ordered the thin crust pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, tomatoes and basil. Oh my goodness! I thought for sure the ribs I ordered would be way better than the pizza, but I was wrong…. The pizza was the bomb! I don’t know if it was the cheese or the sauce that was so delicious, maybe it was just the combination of it all. I’m so glad the hubs likes to share. 

I can’t wait to try the Fish and Chips next time.

So…where to next?

Ribs…. finger licking’ good
The fried calamari

Bonus review: Coffee shop right near our hotel called Bravado. Bravado indeed. This little place was so cool. It was a coffee/breakfast place in the morning, and beer/wine/tapas bar in the afternoons and evenings. We just sort of stumbled into the place in search of morning cup of joe, but when I saw they had avocado toast, I had to try it. Oh man, am I ever glad I did. De-licious! So I upgraded my coffee to a cappuccino, and C had some sort of egg scramble with a latte. Good way to start the day for sure.

Latte love, cappuccino, and the last little bit of our coffee cake

The Cancer update

Well, obviously I’m feeling well enough to be eating like an olympic swimmer. After all the meetings and discussions with the doctors I/we chose to be brave and try the clinical trial. I’ve heard so many good things about immunotherapy, and it seemed like the only way I was going to get to try it was through a clinical trial. I had two options, of which I don’t really know the difference. For one of them (named trial #1) they wanted to do some genetic testing, and it could potentially take a little longer before I could start treatment, and I didn’t want to wait a minute longer. That’s how I made the decision to go with trial #2, an immunotherapy drug called Cerdulatinib. I started taking it on Monday the 15th of April, and that evening was the first time in months that I didn’t turn all red and itchy. It went to work pretty quickly.

At this point, we are tired. Fighting cancer is exhausting, and I’m one of the lucky ones, because I don’t even feel sick. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to do all this while feeling nauseous all the time. Right now it’s the weekly visits to Stanford that are wearing me out. I feel bad for even saying that though, because Stanford is saving my life. And in such a wonderful way – immunotherapy is definitely working for me. In June I’ll have another PET scan, so the Doctors can actually see what’s going on with the lymph nodes, but for now they seem pretty confident in the treatment just based on the fact that my skin and other symptoms have vastly improved.

Yes, every Sunday, we wake up, pack up and head to Stanford for appointments early Monday morning, and sometimes Tuesdays, appointments that can take up to 6 hours. When we’re done we head home (after we eat of course), always hoping to get out of there before rush hour. Four hours of driving is so much better than 5 or 6. The we get home, unpack, do laundry, and just try to get caught up with the chores around the house. Poor C heads in to work exhausted for the rest of the week – I don’t think he ever gets caught up on sleep….sorry honey. I’m starting to think the doctor who told me ‘no’ when I asked about going back to work was right. I want to get back to a ‘normal’ (what’s normal? I don’t even know) life so badly it hurts. So I asked the Doctors if I could go back to work, and that was a no. Dr. Kim told me to ‘take it easy’ right now. I feel like I’ve been ‘taking it eas’y for a really long time already, and I thought I was ready to go back to work. However, gyms and a compromised immune system dont’ mix very well, so they said no. 

The treatments are working, and I’m so very thankful about that. What an answer to prayer! And what a relief that the rash and itching have gone away. I have noticed that when I eat too much sugar or get too tired the rash returns, so I try to stay away from sugar – and ‘take it easy’. I also had a low platelet count at one of my check ups so that next week I made sure to eat foods that would get that up – steak, lots of dairy, bacon, sausages, and lots of green leafy veggies. Basically a keto diet. I’m not complaining about that. 

Actually, I’m just so thankful that God has blessed me so much with an army of prayer warriors, and these great doctors at Stanford. What a blessing!

to be continued…..