November 21, 2012

Thankful ... My Personal Cancer Story {and Chocolate & Cheesecake Cupcakes}


"To everyone who is battling cancer, I hope you are all successful against this disease. I hope that for all those counting down to your dates of being declared *cancer free* that you all celebrate that anniversary with your loved ones. To all those who have never had to deal with this disease personally within your families, I hope that you never do."
~ Paula at Frosting for the Cause
My sentiments exactly.
I originally shared this post on September 23, 2011, over at Frosting for the Cause, a year-long baking adventure to raise money for breast cancer research. 
My reasons for re-sharing here on The Kitchen is My Playground are two-fold:

1.  The Frosting for the Cause site most likely won't stay up and running forever.  The site administrator, Paula, funded the site's hosting through year-end 2012, but isn't sure it will stay up beyond that point.  I therefore want to 'preserve' the post here within the 'walls' of The Kitchen is My Playground.

2.  I am so thankful to have my life as I have it today.  I am thankful to be able to say that I have been successful against cancer. I am thankful to be able to celebrate the anniversary each year of my day of being declared *cancer free.*  At this point, I am now approaching my twelth year cancer free.  And so, on this day before Thanksgiving, I thought it was the perfect day to share with you here my personal cancer story.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!  To all of those dealing personally with cancer in your family, I wish for you the peace of a positive outcome.


When Tracey was thinking of a name for her blog back in February of this year, she only had to put two of her loves together to come up with her title. The Kitchen Is My Playground came easy to this Grade One teacher who, when not enjoying her students both in the classroom and while playing in the school playground she has a lot of fun herself in her own personal playground, her kitchen. Readers like visiting Tracey’s playground too and delighting in her habit of obsessively collecting recipes so that she can try them, change them and create anew. ...  I’m delighted that Tracey is here today sharing her story and recipe with us.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
When I read that one of the requirements for becoming a participating “Baking a Difference” baker was to write about a person in your life touched by cancer I thought, “Oh. That’s easy. That would be me!” Got that requirement covered pretty easily. I’m honored to share a little bit of my personal story here at Frosting for the Cause.

I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was 30 years old. And I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. And that’s probably a very gross understatement. My thoughts: “What?? Me????? At 30 years old?” The discovery process was kicked off during my annual physical that year. My physician decided that my thyroid felt a little bit enlarged and wanted to send me for an ultrasound. Okay. No problem. This really didn’t even register much of a concern with me. I had been feeling a little more tired than normal, had been gaining some weight with absolutely no life-style changes to warrant it … “Ahhhh,” I finally thought, “maybe this is why! I just have a little thyroid issue that needs to get straightened out.”

Well, after the ultrasound I was sent to see a specialist. Okay. Still no problem. I was thinking, “Now I’ll have an even more knowledgeable person to help with my situation.” Still not concerned. (My Mom, on the other hand, was starting to freak out. Though she kept her freak-out to herself. I remember her offering to come to the specialist appointment with me, and me thinking that was a little odd. I was a big girl, after all, and had been going to my doctors’ appointments all on my own for quite some time!).

At the specialist appointment the doctor did a quick exam, looked at me, and said, “There is definitely a growth of some kind on your thyroid. It could be cancerous, so I would like to do a biopsy. If you have time I can do it right now, or we can have you schedule a follow-up appointment.”

I have no idea what my facial expression looked like, but here’s the doctor’s next statement, in a very kind tone: “The thought that this could be cancer never crossed your mind, did it?”

No. Nope. Never. Not once. Are you kidding me?!!!?!!? I’m only 30!! Cancer??? Me?? Hearing the c-word is never a great experience. Hearing the c-word in relation to your own body and health is surreal.

People who know me well will not be at all surprised about my response to my doctor. I very calmly said, “No, that had not crossed my mind. Can I drive after the biopsy? If I can, let’s do it now.” See, I’m a get-‘er-done kinda gal.

I could go on and on about the thoughts and feelings I had, about the treatment, about complications I experienced, about the recovery, about how this gave me the courage to leave a career in which I was unhappy, about a scare I had just this year with possible ovarian cancer (the tumors were benign, praise God!) … But to make a quite long story short I’ll just say, I’m proud and immensely happy to say that I am a cancer survivor and I am cancer free. In fact, last month marked the 10-year mark for me … and I have a totally clean bill of health.

I am thankful for fabulous and talented doctors, I am thankful for the discovery of treatments to fight and destroy cancer, and I am thankful for medical research that has produced life-sustaining medications. Without all of those, I wouldn’t still be on this Earth. I am thankful for every day.

In celebration of being 10 years cancer free, I’m sharing one of my favorite cupcakes with you today.

These little beauties are decadently rich and delicious, combining two of my all-time loves – chocolate and cheesecake. I don’t know about you, but I adore each one separately, so think that whoever came up with the plan to put them together in a single cupcake is a genius. Truly, he or she deserves an award.

It’s hard to believe, as delicious as these cupcakes are, they’re so easy to make.  First, mix up a simple cheesecake batter with some cream cheese, an egg, a bit of sugar, and some mini chocolate chips. Set that aside.

Next, mix up a really easy chocolate batter.

Spoon some chocolate batter into cupcake liners, and then top the chocolate batter with a heaping teaspoon of cheesecake batter.

Bake them up and then (by far the hardest part!) let them cool. I love how the cheesecake just peeks out on the top, but then is a really big ol’ hunk of cheesecake when you bite in.

These cupcakes are absolutely fabulous just as they are at this point. But to make them even more yummy and decadent, top them with some cream cheese frosting. Why not, right? Don’t we all love things even more yummy and decadent?? So go ahead and whip up some tasty cream cheese frosting.

Pipe that tasty frosting onto the cupcakes and then finish ‘em off with a tiny dusting of cocoa powder.

Now go ahead, dig in and enjoy. You know you want to!

I invite you to follow The Kitchen is My Playground with PinterestFacebookGoogle Friend ConnectLinky Followersbloglovin', or Feedburner. Buttons are in the right sidebar. I'd love to have you back soon!

Chocolate & Cheesecake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Source:  Cupcakes and frosting adapted from my Mom
(Printable recipe)
Cheesecake center:
1 c. cream cheese
1/3 c. sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Chocolate bottom:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil
1 T. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream cheese frosting:
3 c. confectioners’ sugar
5 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz. cream cheese, cold
½ tsp. vanilla

Cheesecake center: Combine cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Beat well. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

Chocolate bottom: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cocoa. Add water, vinegar, oil, and vanilla; stir to combine.
Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. Fill each cup 1/3 full of chocolate batter. Top each with a heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes. Makes 18′ish.

Cream cheese frosting: Beat confectioners’ sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium-slow speed until well mixed. Add vanilla and cream cheese (all at once); beat until cream cheese is completely incorporated. Turn mixer speed up to medium-high and beat frosting until it is light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat, as the frosting can quickly become runny if overbeaten. Chill frosting for about 15 minutes. Frost cooled cupcakes. Sift a small amount of cocoa powder on top.
Store cupcakes in the refrigerator.



  1. Congrats on 10+ years cancer free! That was a great story.

    My mom makes these cupcakes too, with a box cake mix so even easier. :) They're some of my favorites, I'll have to give your homemade version a try. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you so much, Mrs. Williams!! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

  2. Reading your story gives me hope. My husband was diagnosed in February of this year with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. After going through an aggressive treatment, and two additional hospital stays we were under the impression that everything looked good. This past Monday he went in to see his oncologist after finding out his platelet count was low over the weekend. After they ran his labs, the oncologist had him sent to the cancer center at UNC hospital. So far he's been told that the cancer is back, now they're trying to find out what changed in 4 weeks. They said it's treatable, but it's hard not being there for him. I'm home with the children 3 hours away, thankfully his parents were able to drive down from New York to be with him. Every story I read/hear about people beating cancer helps. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I will be keeping your husband and you in my thoughts and prayers, Brandy. I'm glad sharing my story helped at least a teeny tiny bit.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story on here, too. Congratulations on 10 years cancer free! Have a great Thanksgiving.

  4. Wow, you are such an amazing person and I love that you shared your story with all of us. I'm glad you made some amazing cupcakes to celebrate being 10 years cancer free.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! Something to be thankful for this week for sure. :) And I love the cupcakes too!

  6. Thank you for sharing and congrats on 10 years cancer free! I am not really very good in the kitchen but these cupcakes look AMAZING, so maybe I will give them a try ;)

  7. Like you, I am a cancer survivor, so I was very interested to read your story, thanks so much for sharing.
    I have just become a follower - love your blog, and all the yummy recipes.
    Best wishes from Jenny in New Zealand - do you know where that is?

  8. What an inspiring story from my precious friend. I am so thankful you beat it and I pray the same for others facing it. Love you.


I love your comments. I read and appreciate each and every one. Thank you so much for visiting The Kitchen is My Playground! {NOTE: Captcha word verification is on to turn away the 'spambots' ... I apologize for the commenting inconvenience!}

Share Buttons

Get widget