When the word means the thing {Low Iodine Thyroid Cancer Diet}

When I found out that my friend Susan might have thyroid cancer I landed on my knees in prayer.  This wouldn’t be the first time I had prayed for my friend Susan and I know that she’s done the same for me.  Once she was diagnosed my prayers changed to “How might I help her?” and “What do I have to give that is worthy enough”?  Like many of Susan’s other friends I reached out and asked her to let me know if she needed anything.  But each and every time I spoke or wrote those words I felt an emptiness.  How do I let her know that I really, really mean it?  How can I let her know that I’m choosing to care in such a way that I wake up thinking about her and sometimes I want to scream and other times I’m simply left resting in my hope?  All for her?

One day Susan reached out and gave me a gift.  She told me exactly how I could help.  She told me exactly how I could be of the most help.  “Hey would you want to come over and cook with me one day?  My doctors are going to put me on a low-iodine diet and I want to be prepared.”

Of course I said “yes” followed immediately by thinking, “what in the world is a low-iodine diet”?  

There was a long list of foods that are not allowed on the diet, but I was thrilled to see that the approved list was full of items available here on our farm (or could be picked up from other farmers at the market).  It reminded me that time and time again the recommended and ever changing diets for improved health like Whole 30, GAPS, Trim Healthy Mama all include real, farm fresh food.  An encouraging reminder that all of this hard work and giving away of gifts is worth every minute.

This was Susan’s preferred, approved “food” list:

-Potatoes
-Sweet Potatoes
-Small Pumpkin
-Acorn Squash
-Lettuce/Greens
-Carrots
-Peppers
-Tomatoes
-Bell Peppers
-Eggplant
-Squash
-Zucchini
-Beef
-Chicken
-Pork
-Egg Whites

So on a Monday afternoon we gathered up the food and headed for Susan’s along with other friends and co-farmers from Community Farmers Market.  

How bold and brave it was for Susan to reach out to us like that.  To trust us enough to welcome us into her personal space and intimate needs.  Because really-there are few things more intimate then the food we eat in order to prepare and heal our bodies.  This time together reminds me so much of the start of Community Farmers Market.  The ways that our lives have always folded in and out of one another’s.  Susan was there when I gave birth to a baby girl at home and I was there when she gave birth to her ever growing iced cream business.  Loving, believing, hoping, caring for one another.  Celebrating with one another, struggling with one another.  

It’s moments like this that the word community is really the thing.  For many of us it’s not just a word that we use lightly, but something that we live out-day to day-alongside one another.  Not something to be bought or sold, but THE most valuable thing to be nurtured and shared.

As we gathered together to prep and cook we simply got started.  There were no recipes, no plans…just everyone using the cooking skill they knew with the food available right in front of them.  One person started caramelizing onions while another cut and diced squash and yet another prepared proteins for their place in each meal.  Quickly-entire meals were coming together and the freezer was being filled. 

In a way I think that all of us felt like we had poured our heart and soul into that food in ways we had never done before.  Our love and care for our good friend could be felt in the room and tasted in each dish.  I love the way that Susan shared her perspective from our time together on social media and I have asked her permission to share it with you,

“Y’all don’t even know how dear these ladies are to me. A few weeks ago I sent out a distress signal, and these lovely ladies, along with a few reinforcements, were willing and able to answer the call. To prepare for radiation, I needed to start a special diet, the low-iodine diet {LID}. I basically had a tiny window of opportunity to prepare for this diet, and was completely overwhelmed by the thought of it, not to mention not feeling well enough to even know where to begin. So I invited a handful of farmers market friends to a party~ they were asked to bring their farm fresh foods, come to the kitchen, and cook for me all afternoon. Nice of me, wasn’t it? ? Well these are a few of the hardworking ladies that were able to make it, and let me tell you, I am NOT going hungry thanks to them. They really made this restrictive LID feel like a luxury. I’ll be sharing more pictures and stories of our afternoon in the kitchen at Susan’s Low Iodine Par-Tay. I hope it pieces together what the Community Farmers Market means to me: community, family, friendship, food, nourishment, service, blessings. I hold these women {and so many others}, and the memory of this day, close to my heart. I will never forget their kindness.”

The word community really does mean EVERYthing.

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