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Thursday
Nov102011

Happy Birthday Marge's Lungs!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Cake

Yes, you read that right, we have a lung birthday! I've been really excited for today's post! Today I have my friend, Marge's, inspiring story and a delicious Cookie Cake recipe to go along with it .  Marge is my good friend from Lafayette College who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as an infant and due to this she had a double lung transplant our Senior year, and today is her 7th lung birthday. Confused? Intrigued? Already inspired? Well lucky for you and me Marge is sharing her story on KMW.

First everyone say, Hi Marge!

LP 2010 (20)

Now let me show you the reason I started making the cookie cake myself.

Mrs. Fields Cookie Cake

That was our Mrs. Fields cake from 2007 that read 'Happy Birthday Marge'F Lung'F', I figured I could do this myself, throw in some peanut butter chips, not decorate it as nicely, but spell words correctly (athough I've never actually attempted to write words) and definitely put a little more love into my homemade version.

Now onto the highlight of my post, Marge's write up, followed by the cookie cake recipe. If you aren't already, you'll be an organ donor after reading this inspiring post! 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

As the saying goes, some people eat to live and others live to eat.  I happen to lie squarely in the latter category.  This is why every year, right around the second week in November, I think about little else than the delicious cookie cake my friend Carrie makes me.  She has made it every year, like clockwork, for the last four years to commemorate a very special time in my life. 

LP2009 008

Let me start from the beginning. When I was just three months old, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (commonly known as CF).  This is a progressive genetic disorder affecting all major organ systems in the body, the main damage being concentrated to the lungs and pancreas.  CF causes an over production of a thick and sticky mucous throughout the body, bacteria thrive in that dark and wet environment and cause chronic lung infections. With each lung infection, permanent and irreversible damage occurs to the lungs, making it more and more difficult each year for a CF patient to breathe. 

My life growing up with CF was filled with coughing attacks, hospital stays for intravenous medications, daily chest physical therapy and a plethora of medications to replenish my body of nutrients that it lost.  Since CF also affected my digestive system, I needed twice as many calories than the average person my age just to maintain my weight and was consequently always tiny compared to my peers.  By the time I was fourteen years old and starting high school, coughing and breathing was burning so many calories that I weighed only 80 pounds. I even required a feeding tube for extra nutrients and to keep a little extra weight on my already frail body.     

As difficult as this all was, I always maintained a zest for life.  My family and high school friends were always there to see me through the hard times.  The home I grew up in was always filled with laughter, I worked hard at school to maintain excellent grades in my classes, and I was involved in as many activities as possible.  Wanting so badly to be normal, I was determined to be successful and get into the college of my choosing.  My academic journey took me to Lafayette College where I met another group of life long friends, including Carrie. 

Throughout my college experience, my health was on a steady decline.  My lung function had dropped to a dismal 30% by the time I was a junior in college.  I was on oxygen full time and my doctors were candid with me regarding my health.  In 2003, at the age of 20, I was told that I would need a double lung transplant to ensure my survival.  

Despite the begging from my family to come home so that they could care for me, I was determined to complete my junior year at Lafayette.  The friends that I had made at college were an integral part of assisting me in accomplishing my goal.  They gave me “piggy back” rides when I needed to get around, carried my books up and down the stairs for me, and even helped to get me food and do my laundry.  Without them, I would have never been able to complete that year. But once it was over, I knew that I had to take action. 

The list for a transplant in the Northeast was very long and by January of 2004 my situation was urgent.  It was apparent that I desperately needed a transplant and I knew in my heart I would not make the two-year wait time at the center in the Northeast.  After much research I found a transplant center in New Orleans with an average wait time of three months.  My family and I decided that moving to New Orleans would provide me with the best odds of survival…and we were right!  On November 10, 2004, after five months of living in New Orleans, I received the call that would change my life forever.    

On November 11, 2004 I woke up after an eight-hour surgery and took a deep breath for the first time in a very long time.  My recovery was remarkable.  I was sitting up in a chair the day after my transplant and walking a couple of days after that.  I was eating like I had never eaten before since I could actually taste my food and was no longer struggling to eat and breathe at the same time.  For the first time in years, I even walked up a flight of stairs with no assistance and without gasping for air.  The happiest moment was when I laughed for the first time and it was not followed by a coughing attack.  After nine days in the hospital, the doctors sent me home to start my new life.  

For cystic fibrosis patients, a lung transplant is not a second chance at life but a first chance at life.  Today, I am a healthy 28 year-old woman living life to the fullest.  My transplant has given me the ability to have an active lifestyle, travel the country, run a half marathon, and to create lasting memories with my family and friends.  I have done all of this without being tethered to an oxygen tank and without coughing.  While I still experience some serious health issues, I would not be here today nor could I have accomplished all that I have in the last seven years without the generous and selfless act of my donor family.   

NJ Half Marathon 017

Every year around November 11, I have a get together with family and friends to commemorate the anniversary of my transplant.  It is a celebration of life and a thanksgiving to my anonymous donor.  It is homage to my loved ones who see me through the hard times.  It is a reminder that I could not get through life without my dedicated transplant team.  It is also my own recipe for one hell of a party. One year, Carrie arrived to the celebration with a cookie cake with the “age” of my lungs written in M&Ms. Ever since then, it has been  tradition to have Carrie’s cookie cake on my special day! And I hope to look forward to that for very many more years to come!

LP2009 004

 - - - - - - - - --

Happy Lung Birthday Marge and thanks for posting on KMW!

Now for the cookie cake, this recipe is so easy and people can't get enough of it. This is my peanut butter and chocolate chip version, but sometimes I throw in M&M's and you could even throw in pieces of candy. Maybe I'll do that  next year with my leftover Halloween candy. How does that sound Marge?

Ingredients
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
icing, for decorating cake

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugars. Add eggs and beat until mixed in well.

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in seperate bowl. Add to butter and sugar mixture, combining well. Mix in vanilla. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips. 

Grease 12"-14" pizza pan with butter and pour in batter, spreading evenly (it's a pretty thick batter). 

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until edges and top start to brown.

 

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