I’m your cancer “go-to” girl

This is not a position I applied for, but it appears it is a job the universe has given me for the time being.
This is a short story about vegetables, cooking, the Farmer’s Market, and one Farmer in particular.

Andy's vegetables, Toledo Farmers Market, January 2010

  I have always LOVED going to the Farmer’s Market.  I loved Farmer’s Markets before they were cool, even.  As a little kid I remember going “to Market” with my dad a couple times and with my Aunt who sold eggs once as well.  This would have been back in the early 60’s, and then it was only called “Market”.  I guess it wasn’t necessary to include the occupational code term of “Farmer” at that time.  I loved the many diffeent sights, sounds, the early morning, and most of all the people.  All different types of people that this little farm girl didn’t normally see around Cygnet and Hope Lutheran Church, my two social outposts of childhood.      Well, I still go to Farmer’s Markets now, and they have changed.  Now it’s cool to get your food at an open air market and to speak a few words with the grower of the goods.  I LOVE to browse the fresh food, and I love to talk with the growers.  Some talk a little more, some a little less.  My favorite guy is Andy Keil from Swanton.  This big bear of a guy is always at the market, always has a big smile on his face, and since I have begun my trip into cancerland, has always asked about me.  Here is a sample of our conversations this past year:  Andy, “How’re ya doin’?”  me: “oh….pretty good…” usually followed by a brief explanation of what’s happened recently or what is to happen next.  The conversation always closes with Andy saying, “Well, you know I’m still prayin’ for you.”  And me, the true Unitarian, I always reply, “Thanks Andy, I’ll take all the prayers I can get.”   Because of course, if there is a Holy Trinity up there somewhere, I’m pretty sure I’m not on the “save” list.                       

Farmer Andy and me at Toledo Farmer’s Market, 1/31/10                   


Well, this week Andy had a little sense of urgency in his voice when he greeted me.  “I was hopin’ I’d see you here, because I got something to ask you.”  “Sure Andy, what do ‘ya need?” I replied.   “It’s time to return the favor for me.  You know how I always tell you I am praying for you?  Well…..”   and he went on to tell me of a very recent medical appointment that ended with a surgery date coming up very quickly to remove a suspicious tumor and adjacent tissue.  And when he was given the bad news, he said, “You know, you were the first person I thought of.”   I really felt kind of honored, in a wierd kind of way.  I told him that personally, I really think tumors suck, and I hope that he is one of the lucky ones to not get admittance into the cancer club any time soon.  We chatted for a few more minutes about how he is way too busy growing food for me to get sidelined with this  surgery and treatment business for too long, and I was really glad he is proactive about his health, and taking care of the important business of living life.                    



Of course now I have to get busy with the praying part.  So I did today.  At home on Sunday afternoon, my son, Louie, carefully peeled the parsnips and carrots and I did the turnips.   I then chopped them up into slightly larger than bite size along with the red onions and a potato, threw a few homemade frozen “pesto cubes” on top and then opened a can of Dei Fratelli chopped tomatoes to add a nice liquid base with beautiful tomato pieces.  The whole while thinking of Andy, and hoping that his great Karma and good nature will get him through the surgery he has scheduled in about 10 days.   This is basically a big pan of vegetables that will last about five days in my house through all my lunches at work and a few dinners at home, also.  Now I can’t help but think of Andy when I pull out my veggies.  This is how a “foodie” prays.  Or at least this is one way I see “prayer”.           


Dinner Sunday night, Andy’s veggies, Trader Joe’s Brown Jasmine Rice and Brown Rice Medley (and yes, I am drinking that wine!)  Of course,  this is a lot of vegetables, and I cook this way to streamline the food “prep” through the week.  My new favorite food thing is prepping five individual containers of “chow” for the week to have healthy and filling lunches every day without having to do a thing, except pull it out of the fridge…….          



 This is such a good lunch, I can’t even begin to explain.  But I do think of Andy now whenever I pull out his vegetables….and when I think “ummmm, this is sooo good!”   I am saying a prayer that my favorite farmer is back in the field this Spring, and not in a Medical Complex someplace decoding a whole new world.   

Thank goodness for those who have travelled this road before me.  When I was first able to utter the word “biopsy”, it was to my friend Kathy, who had been there before with Breast Cancer.  When I started thinking about my mastectomy and how to recover, I was so grateful that my Chinese sister, Helen, spent hours on the phone with me.  When it was apparent I was about to lose my hair, Cathy and Diana loaned me their wigs and hats.    

I’m truly grateful that Andy asked me to pray for him, even if I’m not a very good pray-er.  Gives me a chance to “pay it forward”.   If you are good at praying, you got a direct line to Jesus and God, would you put in a good word for Andy?  He so very much deserves it.  I want him to keep showing up at the Farmer’s Market for many years to come.   








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2 Responses to “I’m your cancer “go-to” girl”

  1. Angela Pedelose Says:

    Hi,I don’t know if you have ever met me, but I’m sure you’ve heard of me. I am Angela, Andy’s oldest daughter-the one with six kids. I know that has to ring a bell.

    I want to start with saying thank you. Thank you for not only supporting our local farmers but for being there. If it wasn’t for customers like you to enter into our lives, these kind of situations would be much harder for one.

    My father is a wonderful person. He has always been there with open arms ready to accept anything you throw at him. This time I don’t think his arm are open and neither are mine.

    I believe that God has a plan for all of us. He will only give us what we can handle. Through him, I have came through many hardships in my life.

    Like the Author John Amatt said, “Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life – facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential.”

    You are a very Blessed woman. Your disease, like any other disease or major life happening, is a life adventure. It’s meant to teach us profound, yet simple, anchors along our journeys of enlightenment.

    I want to again thank you for being there. For being that one person who was drawn to my father to be there there for him and to pray for him. Thank you again.

    May God Bless you and be with you always.

    p.s – You have great taste in food. I am going to fix that dish for me tonight. Well it’s going to have to wait for Sunday after all. I need to go “shopping” in dad’s barn first.

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