Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks-- Cancer Free Style!!

A while back I had reposted a blog from a friend of mine who was in the midst of the fight of his life--literally.  I marveled at his upbeat attitude but it never surprised me.  That's Drew, it's just who he is.  Many of you have asked about him, wondering how he is doing so I thought it appropriate to repost the best update ever and the timing couldn't be better!  As we move closer to the day when we all formally give thanks, the Sandler household will have a whole lot more to celebrate this year!!

To read Drew Sandler's full story, read his blog here:

His latest post.......

Giving thanks for being Cancer Free

I thought I had posted this several weeks ago, so apologies for letting things like hospitals and recovery get in the way of spreading the news.
My doctors have pronounced me Cancer-Free! There is still a lot of work to do, but this is the first critical milestone.
I want to thank all the people in my life who have made this journey possible, my wife, who has helped me stay strong and positive the entire time. Our families who’s love and support has sustained us through some very trying times. And finally our friends who have offered so much love and generosity; at times it’s taken our breathe away how many people have reached out to support us, spiritually, physically and emotionally.
So what comes next?
I know a lot of people are wondering, so let me sketch out what happens now.
With cancer, progress looks like this:
* Cancer-Free
* Remission (5 years)
* Cured (10 years)
I’ve obviously crossed one of those thresholds… Now I move on to making sure I stay cancer-free. That will include 6 months of post-op chemo and then lots and lots of monitoring to make sure that nothing comes back. At this point we just pray that I stay cancer free for 5 years and can be declared in remission.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


+My Baked Stuffed Life
+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro

Friday, June 6, 2014

Live Like You Have Cancer

Long overdue, I know, but like many, sometimes I need a little inspiration.  I've been busy working on a few promises that I made to myself during the annual New Year's resolution ritual and writing was taking a back seat.  It's time to get myself back on track and there is no time like the present.  Kudos to an old friend for reminding me about what is important in life and giving me food for thought.  So today's post will be dedicated to him and to the many friends and family I have who have fought the battle, are fighting the battle or who have yet to discover that there is a battle to be fought at all.

Cancer just sucks.  There is no reason to try to beautify that statement, there's nothing beautiful about it.  Well, maybe that's not entirely true.  I've been fortunate to know a few people who have used cancer as a catalyst to start a new life with a new attitude and a positive outlook.  Some have used cancer to start foundations to further educate people or to promote a healthy lifestyle

These people amaze me and should be looked upon as role models for all of us whether we are fighting a cancer battle or just trying to make it thru a lousy day.  These people have discovered what I've been saying right along--you have a choice.  If you wake up today, yes I said IF--- its a gift.  What you do with that gift is entirely up to you.  You've been dealt a hand, what's your next play?  It's a choice, you can fold or you can kick ass. Make the most of it.....

My friend Drew, he's choosing to kick some ass!!  Here's a passage from his blog "Save the Asshole", it's well worth the read.

Cancer brings clarity

May 31
Been thinking about this one a lot. 6 weeks ago, I was living as if I was cancer free. Not that I was cancer-free, I was just living my life…
Today I’m living the same life on a similar, but different path.
I like the new path. It’s amazing how much bullshit goes away when you have cancer. I just don’t have time to deal with stuff that truly does not matter AND I would argue, the people in my life reflect that. It’s amazing how many petty grievances or slights just don’t make the radar anymore. Anyone who’s been married, knows what I’m talking about, the silly, frustrating argument, about nothing… And a dozen other things that don’t involve my wife (that was just an easy example)…
I’m on this new path, and this new path means I’m no longer ignorant about my disease. It means that I can fight. It means I can tell the people in my life how much they mean to me. It means I can reach out to old high school friends.
It means that choosing a godfather for the new baby isn’t as simple as it was 6 weeks ago.
It doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed by people, but it does mean that I don’t sweat it like I would have on the old path.
It brings an urgency to my professional life that I enjoy and I hope I can continue when I am cancer-free.
When this is all over, I am determined to stay on this path and love better, work harder, play longer and live wiser.
- Drew Sandler
I told Drew that I was going to take this passage and repeat it here, on my blog.  It's well worth it and it's also worth repeating time after time.  His message is THAT important.  Appreciate what you have today and Live Like You Have Cancer.

+My Baked Stuffed Life
+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Spring Cleaning"

I've been on an extended vacation from the writing world. There's no particular reason for that other than choice and the need to take steps to rid my life and my mind of clutter. It's a necessary task from time to time and I highly recommend it. You'll find out exactly what you need, what you can and can't live without.  Interestingly enough, you may also find that some of your personal relationships will change because of this "spring cleaning" exercise. It's all good in the end. 

I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready to emerge again but I did come across the following quote and I find it interesting enough to share. 

Miss you all and I shall return....


+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
+My Baked Stuffed Life

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Kind of Selfish

I woke to the sounds of talk radio this morning.  Most of the time it's music but today is Sunday and Sunday is apparently reserved for the talking heads in radio land.  I didn't mind so much that it was talk radio as much as I minded that it was 6:30am and I had no good reason to be up at that hour on a Sunday.  I'm not one to sweat the small stuff so I just lay there and listened.  As it turns out it was a great way to start the day and  it was validation of the best kind.  You see, I've lived my life having at least one tiny practice remain constant. This one tiny practice was the subject at hand on this particular talk radio show.  I didn't catch the entire show, the alarm went off in the middle of it, but I woke as the guest speaker began a discussion on the best way to cure oneself of sadness or of bad feelings or of a bad mood in general.  The answer was to do something kind for someone else.  Give someone else the gift of what is lacking in your life at that moment and when you do that it will bestow upon you the very gift you are giving.  As you reach out to lift the spirits of another you too will have your spirits lifted.  As you lend a helping hand to ease the burden of another so too will your burden be lifted.  As the delight spreads across the face of another, so too will it create a smile upon yours.  

I do this.  I've always done this and it works like a charm.  It makes me feel good to do nice things for other people.  It's my kind of selfish......


+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
+My Baked Stuffed Life

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Get Your Slam On!

Happy New Year!  How are those resolutions coming along?  My journey continues into the new year and while I continue to struggle with food choices I've really been good about getting some awesome workouts in.  I was in one of the many classes that my trainer, Chris, teaches and she introduced us to medicine ball slamming.  This is my new favorite workout!  Watch............

The medicine balls we use are designed for slamming and as you can see in the short video, they bounce.  They come in a variety of weight options but the one I'm using is 18 lbs.  I'm sure you can imagine the intense workout this gives you from both a cardiovascular as well as a muscle conditioning standpoint.  I felt it right away in my shoulders and abs.  In addition, ball slamming also works your triceps, quads, glutes, calves and back.  The bonus feature to this workout is that it relieves so much stress!!!  If you get the chance .... go GET YOUR SLAM ON!!!


+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
+My Baked Stuffed Life

Monday, January 13, 2014


A friend of mine has been having a rough few days.  I can tell by his Facebook posts that he is trying very hard to get thru it and keep his head above water.  He posted A Prayer of Forgiveness.  When I saw it I knew I had to post it.  We all need forgiveness from time to time.  We need to forgive others, we need to forgive ourselves.  For you my friend, keep it close...


+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
+My Baked Stuffed Life

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013, My Year In Review

A Nor'easter howls outside my door, a candle is lit, my well worn coffee mug is perched atop my bedside table and the beloved pooch is nestled into my side.  A perfect night to write.  A perfect night to reflect on the past year.  My year in review.

 I've taken some steps forward and probably an equal number of steps back but I've emerged a different person than I was 12 months ago.  I've suffered the loss of friendship, rejoiced in new relationships and grown on a personal level from both.  I've been severely deconditioned and worked hard to achieve a healthier level of fitness. I've been too fat and too skinny and everything in between. 
 I've seen pain and disappointment graze the faces of my children and learned that while I experienced the same as a child, the pain is far greater when you watch it unfold in the lives of those you hold dear than if you were to experience it yourself.  So too have I seen absolute joy cross those same little faces and learned that those moments are what makes parenthood so worthwhile.                                                                   

This year brought emotional challenges.  I've seen highs and I've seen lows.  I've been happy, sad, joyful, and full of sorrow.  I've seen worry and experienced paralyzing fear and I've overcome both.  I've been helpless and powerful, hopeful and hopeless.  I've been full of emotion and lacked any emotion at all and it's all been an exercise of the heart.  I lived thru it all and learned from it all and I'm thankful for it all because if one minute of it were missing I would not be the person I am today.  Today I'm wiser, today I'm stronger and today I'm healthy and happy.

I was fortunate to have been able to travel this year. I traveled for business and I traveled for pleasure.  I was in planes and trains and automobiles and I was on ships at sea. I traveled alone and with family and in both cases I made new friends along the way.  I swam with sea turtles, hiked in a rainforest and had my hair braided like an island princess.  I traveled to places that took me back to the "good 'ole days" and explored new places as well.  I learned that no matter how much you want to or how hard you try, you cannot turn the clock back.  You can remember fondly and hold those memories dear but you can never go back in time.  You can, however, start fresh with today and carve out new adventures that will be equally as memorable and bring you just as much joy.

This year brought me closer to my passions. My passion for writing lead me to starting a new blog.           My Baked Stuffed Life was born in January and in the year that has passed I touched the lives of many and many have touched my life in return.  My readership has grown more than I could have ever imagined.  I'm thankful for my readers, I'm thankful for you.   I've met some incredible people along the way and shared stories and heartfelt messages with them.  I've connected with my readers, I've connected with you.  You've taught me that we are all more alike than we are different and that sometimes it just takes one of us to speak up, to break the ice and make the connection.  I'm grateful for the connections that I've made and I look forward to making more.

This year allowed me to explore my photography passion and fine tune what I like to call the "art of the shot".  When I first started taking pictures a few years back, I had no idea what I liked about it.  I just enjoyed clicking away and looking at the result at the end of the day.  Time and experience told me that what I really like to do is capture a moment of action in a moment in time.  Hair flying, feet in midair and fingers flying across the fret board.  I like the challenge of the chase and the thrill of the catch.  You have to study your subject.  You have to anticipate their movements.  You have to know what they will do before they do it and that's the only way you'll catch that moment.  That and luck but I don't want to rely on luck.

This year brought me tremendous personal growth.  In order to grow I had to make some tough decisions, I had to close some doors so others would open.  I had to leave some personal as well as professional relationships behind to allow room in my life for a more peaceful path.  None of the decisions were easy.  I was nervous and fearful each and every time.  As I look back now I realize that those nerves, that fear was born of self doubt, of confidence lacking.  In the face of that doubt I jumped off the cliff anyway and landed on my feet a much stronger person. I learned that when my intentions are pure and when my heart is in the right place that in the end I'll be just fine.  Just fine is a good place to be.

All in all it's been a great year!  What's on deck for 2014?  I didn't make any formal resolutions other than to stay the course.  I'm happy with the pace of my life, I'm happy with the progress I'm making so "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".  I will continue to breathe deeply, be still and watch for the right path to illuminate.  I'll be still and listen for the direction I should take.  I'll be a peace-keeper and a peace-seeker.  I'll fill my life with like minded people.  I'll continue my journey of self care.  I will continue to pursue passions and friendships that bring joy into my life. I'll stay away from ill-intentioned people.  I'll stay away from the users and abusers and those with evil running thru their veins.

I do have wishes and goals that I'll work toward in the coming year.  I'd like to take my photography to the next level and work on getting some professional assignments.  I have irons in the fire and a wonderful mentor who is helping me.  He really is an angel that dropped from the heavens and I'm so appreciative of his knowledge and expertise.

I will continue to write.  I want to challenge myself with different projects.  I'd like to work on getting some professional assignments in this medium as well.  I'd like to write a book some day so maybe I'll write a short story or two and see how it goes.

I'd like to continue traveling.  I'd like to see what I haven't seen.  There are always new places to see and new people to meet.

There are so many things I want to see and do.  I just cant wait to get started!!!!!

Happy New Year!!


+Michelle Morrissette Cucchiaro
+My Baked Stuffed Life