Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
Who adds jam to yogurt? Your girl right here. If you love yogurt parfaits, this beats the Starbucks parfait (29g of sugar) by far. There are camps of experts that believe sugar fuels cancer and so I do try to limit my intake despite other camps that say cancer will also feed off protein and fat when sugar is not available. I don't actually believe that sugar directly feeds cancer cells, but I do believe that excess sugar keeps the body in a constant state of inflammation, which can never be good, and excess fat in the body means extra storage space for estrogen, which is exactly the kind of food my cancer fancies. I don't drink sodas or eat many desserts or processed foods, so my restrictions are basically in ice cream - devastating but not too intrusive to my life I would say. In those sugar rationing efforts I decided to make my own low sugar jam, where I realized that I will never buy store bought jam again, and that even my non-cancer friends should also being making this easy no-frills recipe purely for the rich and sticky deliciousness that comes from using quality berries without any thickening agents. I know that 3/4 cups of sugar still seems like a hideous amount, but do keep in mind that you will only be using a small dollop at a time. If you are using more than this amount, you should try to begin practicing appropriate portion control for your health goals.
1 lb strawberries
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Dice the strawberries and mix with sugar and lemon juice. Leave on the counter to macerate for 1 hour or more. The sugar will help the strawberries release a lot of their juices.
Put a plate in the freezer.
Pour into a large pot (it will foam and splatter so don't use a tiny pot) and boil the mixture at medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil it until the mixture turns from pink to dark red, and the mixture is thick enough that any foam that surfaces can be easily mixed in. Don't leave the stove at all, as it can easily burn if you stop stirring.
It will be ready when the jam is thick and not runny. To test the consistency, put a dollop of jam on the frozen plate and run a finger through it. If it feels like a jelly consistency and the dollop doesn't drip, it's ready! Take your pan off the heat.
Rinse the glass jar and it's lid in boiling water to sterilize it. Pour the jam into the jar and refrigerate. This will last 3 months in the refrigerator.
When I started this blog i expected that a year later I would return with good news of my recovery and tips on how to get through it. What I did not expect and what no one warned me about was that after my strong sprint through treatments, would come such a low in my life where I don't feel recovered, and i really kind of lost myself. I don't go to work anymore. I'm a full time mom but I don't enjoy how mentally exhausted and crippled it makes me. I'm a wife but I don't look or feel the same as before. Intimacy is hard, not missing my old self is still difficult. I'm supposed to grateful for all the hair growing out but I really look like Kramer and that is hard to appreciate. I now have to face anxieties head on without the help of alcohol. Things that used to come naturally to me have now becoming very consuming. Who exactly am I now?
Before cancer, I spent a lot of time discovering the things that made me happy - nature, travel, simplifying my life. Post cancer, these things are no longer applicable or on hold because they all come with a caveat of good health. If I'm in a phase of anxiety or unsure if I'm still in remission, being surrounded by the things i used to love just doesn't bring me the same kind of joy. This is a huge problem, having your happiness dependent on something you cannot control. Does it mean that if I ever relapse, I won't find happiness again? The worry that I'll forever be so bothered and consumed by my illness scares me. This unexpectedly long struggle of picking up broken pieces is something that is rarely shared at first, but i discovered that all cancer patients have. So many friends have told me about how positive and well their family members or friends are doing post cancer, but I would like to suggest that we all be extra kind anyway, not all feelings are easily shared in person and it just can't be easy.
So lately I live just as I did during treatment, each day at a time. I had plans to move to Taipei, plans to bring Bevy to Vancouver for the summer, plans to visit London again. But all these are on hold because concrete plans for the future still overwhelm me and I certainly don't want to jinx any good luck I have currently. One day spent without anxiety driven discomforts (I sometimes have tension headaches, stomach pains and gagging when I'm anxious) and negative vibes is a huge win in the books. In a few days it'll be one year since my mastectomy. One year cancer free is probably the biggest achievement of my life, if you know you know, the amount of strength it takes to get through 365 days in this state of constant fear, then change, then rebuilding. I'll also be receiving the results to my scans in a few days. Oh the scanxiety is so real!!
I'm sounding way more emotional than I wish to be, but I think social distancing from the coronavirus has had a huge impact on these feelings. The feeling of being restricted and not being able to experience life is a huge reminder of what life was like during active treatment. I guess many parts of life are extremely hard even for those not battling illness, and throwing ourselves out there and keeping busy keeps all of us brave and sane. Not being able to do so right now is giving us all way too much time to think and making a full mental recovery incredibly hard. To my BC sisters out there, I'm giving you a virtual high five. What we can find comfort in is knowing that we all share the same fears, yearning for healing, and roller coaster ride. A breast cancer survivor wrote to me on Instagram a while ago, reminding me that it seems like a lot of people are sick and dying, but actually only the unwell are blogging about their illness online, those millions and millions of women who are thriving and have already recovered are out there living their life, not writing about it on the internet. It will end for sure. Both this cancer chapter and coronavirus chapter will end, and we will look back one day at what a ridiculous, laughable, crazy time this was.
Remember to wash your hands and be safe my friends. Stay at home and make some jam.