Number 47: my first year without her

Mother's Day 2013. She had no idea she was already sick inside. Only a few months later she was diagnosed, and a few months later she was gone.  This experience has strengthened my mission to encourage others to do all that IS possible (knowing some things are out of our control) to keep this from happening to their family.

Mother’s Day 2013. She had no idea she was already sick inside. Only a few months later she was diagnosed, and a few months later she was gone. This experience has strengthened my mission to encourage others to do all that IS possible (knowing some things are out of our control) to keep this from happening to their family.

Hello again, dear readers. Some of you may not know why my last post was all the way back in January, so I’m bringing y’all up to date today. On February 6, 2014 my mom passed away from an infection caused by the ordeal of stage 4 inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer. As I read that sentence over again, it still does not seem real. I have not wanted to blog since that day. It has been overwhelming sadness at times, but getting better as the weeks go by. It is a strange thing to lose a parent. It’s “stranger” than I thought it would be. I get lost in thoughts about her, our relationship, how I do and do not want to emulate certain qualities.  Mostly I just miss her, because she was one of my most favorite people in the world. Feelings pop up and tears roll down at very unexpected times and places. Nothing feels quite right in life.  And even though I usually only saw her every couple of months when she was alive, I miss being able to pick up the phone to ask a question or send a quick email. My friends who have lost parents tell me the hole never goes away, but it does get smaller with time. I imagine this next year of “firsts” will be difficult.  Since February, it has certainly been a process of grief, and has left me feeling unmotivated to write, since I needed to work through the grief before writing about it. That is starting to change now, 5 months later, as I am starting to feel glimmers of excitement over information I want to share with you, and ways I want to encourage you and your family.  I have a lot of things in the works, nothing is quite ready to post yet, but I feel my passion for Organic Eater coming back as my cortisol levels are decreasing. And I have learned a lot about cortisol and stress that I want to share with you, especially you moms! Wow, does it affect health like nothing else!

So, know that I have not forgotten about you or this blog. I am processing, praying, and pondering my next posts. Yes, I still love alliteration:) I have been posting most days on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but just haven’t been ready to come back here to do this yet. I am just about ready to get back to this. God is carrying me through, revealing things about myself and His love for me; doing the cathartic healing that is completed only by “casting all your cares upon Him”, and giving me new vision for the spiritual direction He wants me to take at Organic Eater. Thanks for all of your encouragement and support in the last few months!  Hang in there with me healthy friends, I will be back.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

When life hands you lemons, choose kale.

kale and eggs with homemade kraut

The blog is serving two purposes these days. Trying to come up with a way to post about food for the foodie followers, and simultaneously give a personal update on my mom’s cancer to our friends, has been a bit of a challenge.  Fortunately, the writing has been a pleasant distraction from the otherwise heavy thoughts that keep running through my mind. I think God gave me some extra clarity yesterday: “When life hands you lemons, choose kale and eggs instead” was a post I created on Instagram.  For me, it means when circumstances are crappy, find a way to choose joy and count your blessings. For some circumstances it will take longer than others, so please don’t interpret this as some kind of “be happy right now, no matter what your situation.” No. This is about looking deeper than your circumstances, when you’re ready, to find your true joy. Joy that, for me, only comes from an unexplainable peace that God is granting to me. He has granted it quickly for me, but that is not to say yours will come so quickly. The cancer of a child or spouse will look differently than dealing with the cancer of a parent. Everyone must take their own journey when dealing with the explosion of emotions as a loved one suffers, but when and where you can, choose joy. Choosing local organic kale and pastured eggs and fermented homemade sauerkraut is another great choice, but on a different level. So here’s the update for those who want to know:

The oncologist told her it is Stage 4. Incurable. Radiation would do more harm than good and operating is out of the question. The pancreas and liver are covered in tumors. Chemotherapy was his only suggestion, and he urged her to start immediately. She starts tomorrow. Three weeks on, one week off, then do it again. Then blood tests to see if any progress has been made. If the doctor gave her any time frame for how long she’s “got”, mom did not share that with me. I suppose I wouldn’t want to tell my kids that news either if I ever heard it. Emotions as I process this are strange and surreal and I’m not even going to try to explain them here in this post, probably not ever on the internet. It’s too much for me to try to express, for now anyway. We appreciate your prayers for mom as she faces what’s ahead, and for the family as we love her through this valley. This tapestry looks pretty ugly from this side, but I know there’s another beautiful side being woven by the Creator Himself. He has never failed me; I praise Him still. NOT because of my circumstances, but because of who He is. For I know WHOM I have believed and am convinced He is able, 1Timothy 1:12

Choosing Joy and Encouraging Health,


A personal update from Dana

This is an especially challenging post for many reasons. First of all, writing about cancer in your family is never an enjoyable task. Also, I am trying to write this one single post to update all of my Organic Eater followers, as well as many friends and family and business acquaintances, who we have not had time to personally call. I need to get this “right” with one post, so I can move on to all the other things I need to do next. My mind is racing with whether to keep this more “professional” as my OE post, or just pour my heart out and hope my OE readers aren’t too bothered by my realistic emotions, which may go deeply spiritual, way beyond “food” that is normally discussed here. I guess I’m going to risk it, and go with the heart…

My mom has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it has already moved into the liver. It has hit hard and fast, as she had just received a perfect bill of health on blood work and her physical at the end of June. I think she probably heard a “stage” number yesterday, but she hasn’t let me know those details yet. It has been a crappy couple of weeks waiting and waiting for doctor appointments and test results. She has been in pain, and that is by far the most agonizing part so far. My mind has been scattered; I’m even a little fearful of what my mind may forget to do while under this stress. I’ve been on that emotional roller coaster of numbness, to despair, to anger, in between moments of tranquil peace and acceptance of what’s to come. This one is completely out of my control, but thankfully we know the One who IS in control. God has given me (and my mom and family) unbelievable peace through this storm. It’s been quite astounding to literally feel the prayers of so many Believers who are interceding on our behalf. My mom has no question that she will be healed, but we just don’t know yet if it will be on this side of heaven. God has given us great faith to trust Him. He is always good, no matter what our earthly circumstances are. My life is tremendously blessed, and I don’t have to look far to see others who are going through much worse than this. Not that I need to compare sufferings, but I do need to keep a perspective of gratitude and need to find anything I can to be thankful for, in order to get through this. The Lord has made it easy for me to find blessings all around me. I praise Him.  And, there’s more…

My sister was also diagnosed with a skin cancer on her nose the very same day, but we hope hers will not be life threatening. She has no health insurance and is figuring out a way to get 4k to pay for the procedure out of pocket. She is a busy mom of 3 in elementary school (and a 20yr old who is in a stressful situation) and she needs to make some really big lifestyle changes immediately, while dealing with all the stress of her own health as well as mom’s. And yet there’s still more…

As some of you already know, my husband has been dealing with his own health issues too. About a month ago, his eye doctor told him to get to the retina specialist immediately! He had a grey spot in the middle of the vision of his right eye. The specialist has not given us a diagnosis, but everything we have read seems to indicate wet macular degeneration is likely. He has gotten shots in his eyes twice now, and will have one more round in about a month. But we’re not waiting on that alone. Organic Eater has been researching everything possible we can do! And there’s a lot! In many areas of life things are out of our control, but there are some things we CAN do. In the words of Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And you better believe that’s exactly what we’re doing.  My favorite pastor gave an amazing sermon (click on PART THREE) while we have been dealing with these issues (no coincidence there!). A message on how we do what we can do and let God do what only He can do. If you need any encouragement in that area, I highly recommend watching or listening to the sermon series “I Don’t Know What I Believe“, specifically sermon number three “The Second Circle”. It has given me huge perspective as we go through all of this.

And NOW I am finished with my list of updates. That’s enough for one post, huh?! I would love to hear the stories you may have of dealing with this in your own lives. I know cancer has touched many. Too many. Know that while there are moments of doubt and fear, there is peace in the deepest part of my soul. He has taken me into Deep Waters. He has never failed me. He will not fail me now. This video explains perfectly how I am coping.

I pray that my situation would somehow be used to encourage you. IF it does that, please let me know because that would encourage ME!:) Maybe you’re here because you need to make some changes that will keep this from happening in your own life. If you need some help with that, this blog has lots of information and links for you! Maybe you’re dealing with a loved one who is battling cancer right now, and you just needed some encouragement that others are going through this as well. Whatever the reason, I hope this would bring you closer to what you’re looking for. This is not really about me. It’s much bigger than me. I am but a small part in a beautiful tapestry He is creating. I see the “underneath” that’s messy, but one day I will see the other side of a beautiful piece of art that my Father has lovingly sewn together. He is good, no matter what my circumstances are. I will praise Him still.

Encouraging Health,

Dana, Organic Eater

PS: i have no idea if I will have time or desire to create blog posts or pictures for Social Media. If I see that any of this encourages anyone, that will likely motivate me to do more. So, if you have questions, ask me, and I will answer as I can.  I will post here if there are any big new updates. I appreciate all of your prayers, especially my many e-friends who I have never even met, but I know you care about this foodie friend you have never laid eyes on! See, just another one of my blessings to count! I love and appreciate you all!

Thursday Thoughts: Social Media

I have a friend, a “blend” (as Lindsay calls them), a blogger friend, across the country whom I have never met, and most likely will never meet. We are both fortysomething & enjoy healthy living social media, but only know each other via blogs and Instagram and Twitter. This week she lost her beloved dog, and I cried for her. I have prayed intently for her and her husband as they go through their mourning. I am not even a huge pet fan (we have none), so the tears were not shed over my sadness for a wonderful pet. My tears were shed because I feel the pain of her loss from across the country, and I care about what she is going through, even though I have only experienced this loss through seeing an Instagram photo and caption. Someone I don’t even “know”, and I’m crying for her and praying for her. That’s astounding to me. (the Lindsays list link above also has a story about the craziness of caring for people you’ve never met, you should read it). Social Media is affecting people in both good and bad ways. I want to use it positively, to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to encourage and bless. As my pastor has encouraged me to do, I want my blog to be a blessing, not a “success”! There is already plenty of negative and hateful “noise” out there, pulling us down and apart and away from love and compassion. I want to contribute to the positive. I want God to use my life and my blog to help and encourage, and I’m figuring out what that looks like as I go…. and that’s all He wants me to do: give Him my everything, which is essentially “nothing” but a willing spirit (most days:), taking that next step and trusting Him as I do it. For me, it’s the way I must do everything in order to be a true success. So, I’m thankful for blends, and social media, and blogs. I’m thankful for the encouragement, inspiration, motivation, and joy I find there (because I am careful about who I “follow”).  Five years ago I couldn’t even have imagined it. So, I will pray for a friend I have never met, and strive to always make this OE social media thing an encouragement to everyone who may ever come across it. And those are my thoughts on Thursday, but I’m barely making the cut-off before Friday gets here:) Have a great weekend everybody!!

I would love to hear your thoughts on how social media has impacted your life, and your WHY behind your own social media accounts and/or blog!

Encouraging Health,

Dana (aka Organic Eater)

PS: incase you missed it, TinaB was the grand prize Zevia winner, but EVERYONE who left a comment is getting a coupon from Zevia! They rock!! So if you left a comment on the Zevia post on this blog by 10-22-12, then email me ASAP at with your address, so Zevia can mail a coupon to you! Thank you all for sharing your life-change stories with us. You guys are amazing!!