It’s My Week

Today is Tuesday of my week of time off.  For those of you who are regular blog readers know that this is my week of prep for cancer testing.  I’m two years out from my initial diagnosis of Follicular Thyroid Cancer.  Thyroid Cancer is unlike most other cancers.  It is treated with radioactive iodine…no chemo…no radiation.  That’s a huge blessing.

In preparation for the big test on Friday I have been on a low iodine diet- week two of it now for me.  That means no iodized salt for me…no dairy, eggs, fish, soy, processed anything including bread …no going out to eat at all.  In theory that doesn’t sound terrible and it really isn’t but it’s challenging. (and I’m a whiner)

We live rural and that in itself has made this so much more than it would be for anyone who lives in the city.  For example….the grocery store that is 7 miles away has nothing that is a “no-salt added” product.  So I have to drive to the grocery store that’s 30 minutes away.  I don’t mind as the thrift stores are there….but even once there the selection isn’t huge so I have to go to Walmart and to Fareway and to the local health food store.  Each only has a few products.

I’m finding my best friend is fruit (and the bathroom)….It’s the only food that tastes exactly the same to me.  So from my refrigerator you can see I’m loaded up on it.  I typically eat at least a container a day.  I put it on the kitchen island to snack on.


My other cooking…a little more interesting.  One of my childcare mom’s had a recipe for unstuffed cabbage on her Facebook feed….I thought I could make something similar so I gave it a try….That recipe was meant to be in a crock pot.  I was hungry so did it in the Instant Pot instead.

It started easy…hamburger, onions and garlic. (I had to skip the bacon…alas.)

Then it got a little tricky.

The recipe called for rice….um, I can’t have rice….well how about Quinoa instead.  It’s not the same texture but it will do.  It’s been awhile since I have used Quinoa so I wasn’t sure how much it puffed up in comparison to rice so took a guess and put in a cup.


Then the recipe looked like this.

1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (10 oz) can tomato soup

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5-6 cups beef broth

1 1/2 cups V8 or other vegetable juice

Um..how was I going to tackle that???

I had no salt diced tomatoes and tomato paste….no soup, no juice and no broth.  UGH.  Well the immersion blender turned the diced tomatoes into “juice”…I did another can to make up for the soup.  I added two cans of water instead of beef broth.

I knew it would be no where near the recipe…but I held hope that it would be edible.  I did add spice but didn’t have thyme or Worchestire sauce (at least not salt free) so I added some nutmeg as long ago I had a stuffed cabbage recipe that did call for nutmeg.

I put it in the Instant Pot- Manual Pressure for 10 minutes…..this is what I had.

Mine isn’t as tomato-ey as the original but that’s okay.  I’m getting burnt out on tomatoes.

I’m doing okay but cooking has been a challenge.  There are good recipes and good recipe books out there but the problem is so many of them call for ingredients that aren’t available in our rural area.  It means that I have to use my imagination a little more and that’s all okay too.  If I make it again…I’m adding two pounds of hamburger instead of one.

I have read so many labels this last week or so.  Did you know that chili powder has salt in it?  I thought it was only powdered chilis….nope, it’s not.

Also because we are so rural I’ve had to take the week off work.  I need to take shots Monday and Tuesday.  The shots can only be taken in Lacrosse and that’s a two-ish hour drive there and two-ish hour drive back home.  That means four hours on the road.  Wednesday I have to be back in Lacrosse to take a small dose of radio active iodine.  Thursday I have off  (my free day)…Friday I have to go for the scan and to meet with my doctor.  It’s a long week of travel.  From the time I park the truck at the clinic, to getting the shot, to getting back in the truck is only about 20 minutes.  I’ve asked if I could get it done at the local satellite clinic.  They say no.  It’s a specialized shot that costs $1500 a dose-they can’t risk a satellite clinic nurse doing it wrong.  UGH.  (Thank goodness we have insurance to cover part of it)

Because of the long trek back and forth, I have to take the whole week off of childcare.  People who are going through this that live close would likely only have to take an hour off of work each day to manage it.

I love our rural life but when it come to medical things, it’s makes getting to the doctor more challenging.  Today I have Kelli with on the trek.  It’s been a bit since I’ve been able to catch up with her in person.  She is going to make the trek with me and keep me company.  After my shot we’re heading over to the specialist to look at my shoulder….FINALLY!  I had an appointment scheduled for March but we had a snowstorm then and I was forced to cancel it.  I could have rescheduled sooner but suffered with it to save yet another trip to Lacrosse.

Hubby is going with on Friday and that will for sure include a meal out as after the scan, I can eat regular food again…WHAT A BLESSING!!  I’ll let you know how things go as they unfold.  Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers.  It means a lot to me.

23 thoughts on “It’s My Week

  1. Donna

    Your diet and commuting sound challenging! Glad you are making the best of it the week will be over before you know it!

  2. Penny

    Keeping you in my prayers, Jo. Hoping you get good results from the testing & continue recovering well. Sending healing Hugs to you!

  3. Jackie Goosen

    Totally get the living rural part, however, our local grocery stores do a good job of providing options for various eating dilemmas. Good luck with your test, praying for you!

  4. Susan

    Wow, glad this is almost over for you. Your Instant Pot food looks pretty good. Sending prayers that your test comes back good!

  5. Marilyn

    Prayers for you. You are a warrior and you always have a wonderful outlook. I live in a rural area also . I really look forward to your blogs.

  6. Pat B

    Homemade chili powder
    1⁄4 cup sweet paprika
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    Place all ingredients in a small container with a tight-fitting lid and shake to mix.

    There are also recipes that you roast and grind your own peppers, if desired.

    Good luck with all of the tests and travel.
    Store in a cook, dark place.

  7. Linda

    Prayers for you this week.. That all will be well…and that you won’t need any more tests for a long time……Your recipe helped me….I struggle with Instant Pot recipes that call for canned soup—nothing else is like condensed soups and they all have wheat in them….

  8. Debbie B

    Not your typical week off work is it? You’re handling it well and I wish you all the best. Hugs!

  9. Nell

    Hope you are finding some time to sew to help with the stress/anxiety. Sending lots of love your way.

  10. Melissa Hollenbeck

    Glad you have company for that long drive to the doctors. We live on the coast and many doctor appointments require a 2 hr drive. Its different than when we lived in town, but I’ll never go back! We are all on your team Jo, and those prayers are more powerful than any doctor!

  11. Marie

    I have had two thyroid cancer surgeries and they both required radiation treatments, in my case, 33 consecutive daily ones, requiring me to stay at a cancer hospital 2 1/2 hrs. away from home.
    I also had to go for a radiation stay where they isolated me in an iron walled room, after radiating my body, for 3 full days and nights in a hospital nearly 4 hours away , that was no picnic either.
    However, when I think of not being checked for more cancer, I gladly go for these yearly checkups, so keep smiling.

  12. Elana Goldberg

    Best of luck to you. My husband had thyroid cancer a few years ago. He was eating matzah that week, which apparently has no salt or iodine. We are Jewish and certainly have matzah during passover, but this was a first…eating it during the rest of the year. Anyways, it was a very stressful time but fast forward several years later and he is doing just great. I hope your outcome is good and that you keep your sense of humor and perspective as you recover. All the best.

  13. Carla

    I can barely imagine all you must have been through with your thyroid cancer. I am certainly adding my prayers for good results to everyone else’s. Oh, and it’s actually 7 out of the 17 that I have done. But that should get bumped to 8 soon :-)

  14. Heidi S

    I make a version of that same recipe. The one I used was labeled cabbage roll soup. My version is not salt free but it is rich and delicious. I use breakfast sausage (from my pig) for incredible flavor. Eliminated the rice to make it low carb and subbed in stewed tomatoes for the V8 and tomato juice. I usually use 2 cans stewed and 1 can diced or sauce. I’m rural as well and need recipes that work with my pantry staples. No bacon in mine. It has become my family’s favorite soup.
    Good luck with your testing! Enjoy your hubby :)
    I will be praying for you to have great results.

  15. Kim

    Hoping and praying that the outcome is positive for you. Glad you are so creative with your mad cooking skills and we love our instant pot for many quick meals, thanks for sharing another recipe.

  16. beverly schwartz

    hi jo just to let you know i had my cancer test and iam now declared cancer free i have been taking dandolion root and that helped clear the cancer up so just to keep taking it to make double sure it stays away good luck with your test

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