Kicking Lung Cancer’s Butt

Today is the Lung Cancer Initiative’s annual LUNGe Forward 5K, held to raise funds and awareness to kick lung cancer’s butt. It’s my fourth year participating and my second time doing it pregnant, though I was only 9 weeks last time I ran it pregnant as opposed to nearly 37 weeks this time. (It probably goes without saying that I won’t be running it this time so much as waddling it. Slowly.)

lungeforward-2016

I don’t look that pregnant, right?

I’ve been so busy and tired lately that I haven’t really done a very good job attempting to raise awareness regarding the fight against lung cancer, something of which I am slightly ashamed. Lung cancer (or any cancer, for that matter) doesn’t take a break, so I shouldn’t either.

Here are some cold hard facts about lung cancer:

fact sheet-page-001

From The ASCO Post’s article “Will Funding for Lung Cancer Ever Improve?” :

  • Data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Department of Defense (DoD), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that the amount of money spent per death from cancer for the fiscal year 2012 was $17,835 for breast cancer, compared to $1,378 for lung cancer. This represents a greater than 10-fold increased spending per breast cancer death compared to each lung cancer death. A look at the total funding for these malignancies is just as alarming. Between 2008 and 2010, the NCI spent $1,803.3 million on breast cancer research compared to $776.4 million on lung cancer research.

The discrepancy in survival rates for lung cancer versus other cancers, particularly breast, is ridiculous. The paucity of funding available for lung cancer research is appalling. And the fact that there is still a stigma surrounding lung cancer is absurd. Lung cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or previous smoke exposure.

I know this is short notice, but if you would like to join me in the fight against lung cancer, here is a link to my donation page:

http://RaleighLUNGeForward.kintera.org/2016/kristenw.
Any funds that you donate are used responsibly to assist in the fight, I swear. The Lung Cancer Initiative does a great job of making sure that your donations go back to the people that need them, with 88¢ of each dollar donated going back to the community in the form of various programs. Here is a link to the LCI page detailing just what, exactly they are doing with your money.

It looks like it’s going to rain again, for the third year in a row. But like I told some of my coworkers who are coming to the race with me, “Cancer doesn’t stop for the rain so neither will we.” I’ll post some pics from race day later (or tomorrow…) so you guys can all see the amazing turn out we have here in North Carolina to fight the number one cancer killer in the world. Thank you in advance for your support!

Update: Here are some pictures from the race today. The rain held off, which was a nice change from the last few years. I’m always amazed at the wonderful turn out this event gets, that so many people in the area are committed to fighting lung cancer.

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Rocking the compression socks and my team t-shirt

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Second year dragging my bestie along with me

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That’s an inspiring sight to me

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Post race with some of my coworkers

 

Pregnancy #3 Update – 34 weeks

Well, I feel like we’re officially down to the wire. Wally is coming next month!  I simultaneously feel like this pregnancy has flown by and like I have been pregnant forever. Granted, I’ve been knocked up for 2 1/4 of the last 5 years, so it is kind of like I’ve been pregnant forever. How’re things going?

Well, I’m really tired. Like, really tired. It could be due to the fact that this is a fairly accurate representation of my sleep, as captured by my FitBit Charge.

Sleep Pattern

I wouldn’t really call that restful…

Like I told my sister, it’s not even my heartburn so much this go round like it was with LB and BIT. (Though I may have just jinxed myself.) It’s mainly having to pee every 90 minutes, as well as having to fluff my mountain of pillows to try and alleviate some of the back pain. BUT I can usually fall back asleep pretty quickly after a trip to the bathroom, so it could be worse. And I’m not having a ton of leg cramps, like I have previously, so I’ll take that as another tick in the win column.

Other than being exceedingly tired at this point, I’m feeling pretty good. Weight gain is right at 19-20 lbs, which makes me happy. I’ve got 6 weeks to go and I’d like to keep it to 25-27 lbs total, but I’ve finally gotten to the point in this pregnancy where I’ve let it go a bit. If this is our last family addition, then I guess I should try and live it up my last 6 weeks of pregnancy ever, right?

34-weeks

The other day, within the same hour, I had someone ask me if I was sure I wasn’t having twins as well as someone tell me that I’m all belly and my ass is as tight as ever. (This last comment came from a 91-year old female patient…) I’m trying pretty hard not to let the comments irritate me, which is difficult as I’m fairly irritable at times, but oh well. People feel obligated to say something to a pregnant lady and it’s not necessarily going to be something intelligent or tactful. But I am trying to be kind and reasonably tolerant. We’ll see how well I’m doing at that in another 5 1/2 weeks.

Anyway, that’s a brief rundown on the status of me & Wally. Next week, some work friends are taking me out for baby celebration dinner. I’ve had a few of them ask me what we need and I answer, very honestly, “Diapers and wine.” I did manage to get the onesies out and the crib put back to newborn height, so I’m feeling all set. I’ve just got to sign up for some Similac coupons, rewash the bottles, and get the car seat out of storage and we will be totally ready. Or, as ready as one can be for something as momentous as the arrival of another child. Funny how much less stuff it takes the more you do it…

Building A Produce Storage Rack

Over the long Labor Day weekend, the DreadBrewer and I were able to conquer one of the garden projects that has been on our To Do list for far too long: building a produce storage rack.

Until now, we’ve had to store our onion, garlic, and shallot crops in bins and boxes in the guest bathroom, not to mention the fact that our tub was totally full of onions. Not only did this present a problem if we had guests who had the crazy notion that they would perhaps like a semi-usable bathroom in which to brush their teeth, but it also seriously shortened the self life of our root crops due to lack of air circulation. We ran the vent fan fairly frequently to try and keep some of the moisture out of there, but we still lost about 25% of our harvest due to rot.

Pre-Rack 1

Yeah, I’d consider these less than ideal storage conditions

I looked into all sorts of storage possibilities in an attempt to find something that would help us preserve our harvest. The easiest option would’ve probably been just to buy a ton of panty hose and string the bundles up from the shower curtain rod, but panty hose are actually kind of expensive when you think about the fact that you use them once and then cut them up. I tried to find something we could purchase and use, but again, everything was more money than we wanted to spend. Finally I found these plans from Ana White that looked awesomeThe plans only called for unfinished pine, which is pretty cheap, and were labeled as intermediate, which should be well within our capabilities, so DB and I decided that we would build our own food storage rack.

I have to say that the girls were so good while we were putting the rack together. They waited patiently in the morning for us to make the sides so we could go out and play in the yard.

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They put Curious George to shame

They waited patiently in the afternoon for us to put the frame together so we could go out and play in the kiddie pool.

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Look at these paragons of patience

I didn’t get a picture of it, but they entertained themselves with baby dolls and play dough while we built the shelves. All in all, they were champs while we worked at this. We also couldn’t have done it without my mother-in-law coming over and reading them books while we cut the 108 pieces (!!!) needed to build the rack.

Rack 1

Very pregnant BrewsterMama, hard at work

We finally finished the rack at lunch time on Sunday and everyone in the house was pretty darn excited.

Rack 3

I think she’s almost as proud as we are!

The original plan was to put it in the guest bathroom but the stupid doorway is smaller than a standard doorway and we couldn’t get the rack through, at least not without dissassembling the front supports (which involve wood glue, finishing nails, and screws) and then reassembling it in place. So plan B has it in the spare bedroom for the moment until we decide where to put it for the duration. (I would like to point out that when we were confronted with the fact that the rack would not go through the door as planned, the DreadBrewer just laughed and moved on. I was tempted to throw a complete and utter shit fit and would have totally understood if he had done the same. I was very impressed with his poise.)

Rack 4

SO much better than a tub full of onions,

As soon as conditions outside cool down to less than 80 degrees, which makes it cooler than what we keep our thermostat set at, our plan is to move the rack out to the garage and reclaim the spare bedroom for Wally.

For anyone who is interested in perhaps building a produce storage rack of his or her own, a few things that the DreadBrewer and I learned along the way.

  • The purchase list on the building plans calls for 14 1x3x8 boards; this is wrong and we learned this one the hard way. You need 18. There are at least two comments on the plan’s website pointing this out but the website author has yet to update the purchase list. (Perhaps 4 years hasn’t been enough time to figure out how to fix the list?)
  • The purchase list also recommends that you buy pocket hole screws, as well as regular 2″ screws for the project. You don’t need pocket hole screws. (I never even knew these existed and they’re stupidly expensive, in my opinion.) Had we used them, we would have used a max of 4. Instead, we used 2″ straight finishing nails and the end result looks and functions just as well. The regular screws work perfectly fine wherever you need to screw two pieces of wood together.
  • Read all the way through the directions before you even start cutting the wood. The X-braces are very confusing to make if you try to do it based off just the cut list and easy to mess up, which we learned the hard way as well. If you read the step for assembling the sides, which includes a diagram with measurements, it is much, much clearer how to cut your 2x2s.
  • Plan on spending about $150 on supplies and about 5 hours total assembling this project. We were lucky enough to have a cut saw, a nail gun, and two electric drills at our disposal, as well as a couple of exceedingly patient little girls, a star mother-in-law, and two reasonably savvy workers. If you’re trying to do this on your own, you will certainly need clamps or somesuch set up to help you with holding things and it will most likely take you longer.

Depending on how ambitious DB gets with garlic and onion planting next year, we may actually need to build another rack to store everything. It would be interesting to tweak the plans a bit, maybe make the rack thinner and taller. (Then at least we would know it could get through the bathroom door, right?) Regardless of whether or not we end up building another rack, I am inordinately proud of the one we made. Not bad work for one weekend, eh?

 

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars

Every year, our wonderful neighbors bring us bags and bags of fresh figs. They are kind enough to pick them for us, despite not really eating them themselves, simply because they know how much we love them. (Yes, I do know how lucky we are to have such awesome neighbors.)

Typically, we dehydrate some of the figs and then turn the rest of the fresh ones into fruit leather for the girls. This year, the fig trees were even more generous than usual and we had enough that I was able to experiment with a few recipes, as well as forcing all of my coworkers to try at least one “No, thank you” bite each of a fig. I was surprised at how many people have never tried a fresh fig, but maybe that’s not really all that crazy.

One thing I made with the figs was a big batch of Fig Jam from Food & Wine; it turned out really well and I think we’ll have no issues using it up within the recommended three months.

Next I wanted to try making some sort of fig cookie or fig bar, but all of the recipes I searched either called for dried figs or used obscene quantities of sugar. So I decided to adapt a recipe for chocolate oatmeal bars that looked decent and make my own Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars. This is the first incarnation of this recipe but I think it turned out pretty darn good and I will most likely be making it again very soon, with a maybe one or two tweaks that are outlined after the recipe.

Fig Bars 1

I’m obviously not a food photographer, but I think these still look delicious

Fig Bars 2

LB and BIT thought the bars were very, very yummy

So here’s my recipe for Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used coconut oil but I think vegetable would be fine, too)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 4 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped fresh figs

How To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil with an overhang and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Put first 10 ingredients (everything but figs and chocolate chips) into a big bowl. Using a hand held mixer or a big spoon, mix up a stiff batter. Fold in chips and figs.
  3. Press the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done. You don’t want them to be dry as a bone; a little moistness on a knife when you test it isn’t a bad thing.
  4. Using the foil, remove bars from pan. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Notes from yesterday: I used an 8 x 11.5 inch pan so my bars were very thick and took about 30 minutes to cook. But I think they will be better if they are made in a bigger pan and are thus thinner (which is what the original non-fig recipe called for). Also, I only used 1/2 cup packed brown sugar but I felt like the oatmeal/flour batter was a little underwhelming and only elevated to awesomeness by the chocolate and figs. 3/4 cup of sugar is still less than originally called for and will make a more delicious batter. And I think that if you don’t have fresh figs, cherries would be amazing. That may actually be the next thing I try.

Let me know what you guys think!

3rd Pregnancy Update – Almost 32 weeks

I’ve realized something that everyone else has probably known forever – the more kids you have, the less free time you have to contemplate your current pregnancy. I remember when I was pregnant with the Littlest Brewster and I had all the time in the world to sit and contemplate the miracle occurring inside me. Even with BIT, I had opportunities to really focus on and prepare for the arrival of our second child.

Honestly, there are times with this pregnancy that I forget I’m pregnant. And I’m not lying. It completely slips my mind, particularly on the days that I’m feeling really good. Until I accidentally whack the belly into something or try to bend down and pick something up and I’m like, “Oh wait! I’m almost 32 weeks pregnant!” We have done absolutely nothing to prepare for the arrival of Wally. (Well, technically you can count moving BIT to a big girl bed and freeing up the crib as preparation, if you discount the fact that we then promptly turned the crib into a spot for storing spare linens.)

My big goal for the next two weeks is to make some serious strides on clearing the extra junk out of the bonus room (aka Wally’s room) and figuring out a place to put the things that he/she is going to need, like clothes and diapers. (On a side note, a coworker asked me in all earnestness what theme we were going with for the nursery. I wanted to laugh but I managed to restrain myself.) I also want to get out all of the bottles, etc and see what parts are still good and what parts need to be replaced. I feel like that is doable, right?

Other than being forgotten, how is this pregnancy going? Well, I’ve had lots of good days but there have also been some serious trials and tribulations over the last 4-ish weeks. Not necessarily pregnancy related, but when they have come one after the other and my reserves are low from being very pregnant, it’s been a little rough.

First I nearly sliced off the end of my pinky finger with our mandoline. Now, with my platelets already low due to pregnancy, it took nearly 2 hours for the bleeding to stop when I did it. (I really needed stitches but refused to go to the ER out of stubbornness, which I’m sure will surprise absolutely no one.) Then I had one of docs at work check it out the next day, who insisted I go to our work ER anyway which took forever and essentially ended up in them doing nothing but slapping some steri-strips on it, giving me a Tdap, and sending me on way with Keflex. However, I then started to get a granuloma at the laceration site, prompting a visit to a hand specialist to have that burned off. All in all, it was nearly 2 weeks of pain and irritation dealing with this nonsense, all because I didn’t use the safety guard for the first time ever . 

Then I got this weird blistering rash on my left hand and arm that no one at my OB’s office could figure out. The 3rd doctor to give an opinion on it decided that he thought it was a strange presentation of shingles, wrote me a prescription for Valtrex, and sent me on my way. After I’ve already informed work that I’ll be out for a few days (immunocompromised patients + active shingles = very, very bad combination), the OB calls and suggests I swing by the dermatologist to have a section scraped and microscopically examined. Which was painful but at least had the happy result of confirming I didn’t have shingles but instead was having a very bad case of contact dermatitis from poison ivy. Never mind that I have absolutely no clue where or when I could have possibly came into contact with poison ivy, but at least I didn’t have to take days and days of work. I declined the prescription for steroids, even if it would have cleared up the rash more quickly because I just didn’t feel like adding another pill to the mix.

Then I started having some back pain and thought I had pulled something, but that apparently was just the warning sign that I was about to come down with a raging UTI. Over the course of a day at work, I went from feeling a little off to thinking that I was going to die with back pain and lower abdominal cramps. Luckily, I was able to get checked out by our lab and call my OB to let them know that I did indeed have a UTI and they were able to call in yet another prescription for antibiotics.

Two days after starting my antibiotics, I’m feeling like a new woman, thinking all the bad stuff is behind me. And then I actually do pull a muscle in my back, rather badly.

So I’ve spent the last two days hobbling around and feeling very sorry for myself, something I typically try not to do but it’s been a rough month.

But I’m doing my best to be optimistic that this rough patch is almost over and the rest of the pregnancy is going to be smooth sailing.

On that note of sunshine, here’s the most recent belly picture:

31.5 weeks

31.5 weeks

For comparison, here are pics of me at the same point with LB & BIT –

32 weeks with BIT

32 weeks with BIT

32 weeks with LB

32 weeks with LB

I had sort of felt like I was carrying exactly the same with this pregnancy, leading me to feel like this is probably another girl but comparing pictures makes me think that maybe I am carrying differently after all. But it could be that, as I’ve explained to DB, my abdominal area is like a hammock that’s been sat in repeatedly and that could the reason it looks different this time. Not that I really think I’ll be able to tell before October what we’re having, it’s just fun to speculate.

If I actually remember that I’m pregnant, look for another update in a couple of weeks to see if things really do get better.