It’s 1999. I’m 12 years old. Just like every other morning, I get up and pour myself a bowl of cereal, before heading to another day of 7th grade. But this morning is not like every other morning. I’m sitting at the dining-room table with my little sister eating breakfast. My dad isn’t there, but he usually goes to work pretty early. My brother isn’t there, but he’s a “late-bird” in his first-grade class, so he doesn’t have to be up for another hour. There was no way to know that this wasn’t another normal day in the life of a twelve-year old.
Unfortunately, it’s not like any other day. My mom comes and sits at the table. “You might have noticed that your brother and dad aren’t here. The doctor called last night and told us that your brother’s blood tests came back, and he had to go to the hospital right away. They think he might have leukemia.” Wow. What do you do when you hear that sort of news?
That was March 1st, 1999. My brother was five years old, and he had leukemia. Those were hard times. I remember not being able to talk to anyone about it for a while, because they wanted to make sure it was leukemia before they told anyone about it. I remember going to the hospital and visiting him, but having to leave because he was getting horrible headaches from the treatment. I remember my uncle taking my sister and I out to Sea World, and going climbing at the fake rock wall near my house, and going with our cousins to the Long Beach Aquarium, so we could still get out and have some fun while my parents spent all their time at the hospital with my brother. I remember his first grade teacher coming to home school him. I remember going to Disneyland and getting to go to the front of every line for his Make-A-Wish wish. I remember my dad taking him to the movie theater in the middle of the day when no one would be there, just so he could get out even though he couldn’t come into contact with other people. Other than that, most of that time is a daze. I don’t think at that age I really understood the gravity of all that was happening. After the first initial shock of my brother being really sick, it was pretty much just accepted as a fact of life.
Three years later, he went into remission. The cancer was gone.
Fast forward seven years. Now I’m in college. I visit home and glance at the calendar that we write all our appointments on. I see something about my dad having surgery, and ask my mom about it. Turns out, now my dad has prostate cancer. They had known for a while, but no one told me because they didn’t want to distract me during finals.
That was a hard time for us… to see my dad, always so strong, now weak and sick and pretty much just sitting on the couch all the time. I was at school so I didn’t have to see it very often, but I know it was very difficult for my siblings who were at home. Luckily he had his surgery and treatment, so he’s all better now.
Last September, I called my mom. She had said she was going to cook okazu for us (Son loves her okazu), so I wanted to make sure that was still in the plans. Turns out, that was NOT in the plans any longer. My brother had come home sick from school that morning (the first day of sophomore year! He has great timing.) and ended up in the hospital. He had relapsed. He had leukemia again. This time, I was old enough to really comprehend the gravity of the situation. The first time, I don’t think I really cried about him being sick. This time, Son came home and held me for hours while I sobbed.
This time, it’s both easier and harder for my brother. Easier because he’s been through it once before, so he knows what he’s in for. Same doctors, same nurses, same wing in the hospital. He even knows some of the other patients, so when he and a friend are there at the same time, they do what they can to be roommates. Harder because he misses seeing his friends at school every day (even though he sees them after school quite often) and, as he puts it, this time he actually cares what he looks like! Which means he wasn’t too pleased about losing his hair or putting on weight from the chemotherapy. Such a ladies man he is.
He’s going through treatment right now. He should be, for about another year. Yet in many ways he’s still a normal teenager. He skateboards, goes to the beach, goes to see his favorite bands play, text messages his friends 24/7. He blasts hip-hop music from his room, has to have all the coolest clothes and *stuff*, and pesters my parents to let him start learning how to drive. And in a year, he’ll be all better.
I know I’ve told you about my family’s battle with cancer when I made the Orange Cupcakes for the second Taste and Create, but I felt I had to tell it once more for a very special reason. This year I decided to participate in the A Taste of Yellow event, hosted by Winos and Foodies, for LiveSTRONG Day 2008. We had to take a picture of some sort of yellow food and include the LiveSTRONG wristband in the picture. I had made this Mac N’ Cheese with a Twist from Finger Licking Food for Taste and Create, but since it’s yellow and I hadn’t taken a picture for this yet, I decided to use it for the LiveSTRONG event and make something else from her blog for Taste and Create. (That’s coming later this week!)
This is the most heavenly macaroni and cheese I have ever had! It wasn’t too difficult to make, and even though it took a little while, I’ll definitely make it again! Yes, it’s that good. The red peppers and onions get soft enough to really melt in your mouth, and everyone knows I love bacon in just about anything! If you are making this for kids who are picky about vegetables, try using yellow bell peppers instead of red. They will blend in with the cheese so the kids won’t be able to see them, and there are no weird textures that a child might be put off by. Excellent macaroni and cheese!
- 2 cups macaroni elbows
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1Â½ cups milk
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 5 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp all-purpose Flour
- 1 slice bread, crumbled
- green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Salt generously, add a tsp of oil and then add the pasta.
- Stir and cook for about 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.
- Drain pasta and set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Add the onions and bell pepper.
- Saute for a few minutes until onions and peppers are soft.
- Microwave milk for about a minute, so it is hot but not boiling.
- Add the flour to the vegetables and stir continuously until vegetables are coated and the flour no longer looks white.
- Cook on low heat for 2 minutes.
- Slowly stir in the hot milk.
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Turn off stove-top heat.
- Stir in the salt, pepper and the shredded cheese.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and bacon, and toss to coat evenly.
- Transfer to a 9″x13″ baking dish and spread to form an even layer.
- Top with the bread crumbs and a handful of shredded cheese.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and the bread crumbs have browned. Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions.
You also might like...
- Taste and Create 7
- A Taste of Yellow – Curried Sushi Hearts
- A Hug Rolled up with Salmon and Seaweed
- Orange-Flavored Mochi
- Stoplight Roll