Filé and Cancer

Today, I received a call from a cousin who is one of those so close to you that they feel she is more a sister than a cousin. I have a few of those in my family. She and I had talked last night for hours! Because we were unable to connect since Thanksgiving. I know that doesn’t sound as if we are that close right? Problem is she and I are on diffe T sleep schedules and haven’t wanted to disturb the other one then with the time of year we are kept very busy. 

Well, she called me a few minutes ago and I had to return her call because I didn’t hear it. Another of the ways we haven’t connected until now. She called to tell about a bottle her sister had found almost hidden on top and to the back of a cabinet. Her sister has just moved into their parents home. So she is cleaning it up and she found this bottle. The bottle had a label on it and on the label it was written the words, “made by Leola and Lavern in 1996”. Inside this bottle was filé (Fee-Lay) my aunt and my father made just two years before he passed away. 

Filé is a very common spice found in many of the pantries here on the coast of Mississippi. My father and I would go out and collect the leaves off the trees then bring back the leaves and many times actual limbs off the trees. The limbs and leaves were laid around inside the house to dry. One of the first memories I have of making filé with dad still is etched into my brain. I loved doing these type of activities with my dad. 

So, why am I sharing this? Because it brings back the fact my father passed away 2 years after he and my aunt apparently gathered the leaves and made this filé. I’m sad because I was not a part of that adventure. That thought made me start to question why I wasn’t and why I really didn’t know they had did this until after my father passed away and this is not the first time I heard about this batch they made. 

What I have been thinking is about that time I was staying home a lot. I barely had energy to get out of bed each day. Was it so bad, my father didn’t ask me to go because he knew I felt bad? That leads me to many thoughts and questions about cancer, his and mine. Did I have the cancer then? Did my father have cancer then? If he had cancer then was he as fatigued as I was? I know in time he had shown signs of his cancer which he and we did not find out until 3 weeks before he passed away. 

All those questions have me wondering how he was able to do that outing. I believe we both had been showing signs of our cancers but just had no diagnosis or the correct diagnoses. I am pretty sure I had been showing signs since 1980’s and my father had around that same time. It took his having surgery for sleep apnea to have him diagnosed and then 3 weeks was all he loved from the time he was told. At that time I was told I had chronic fatigue and kept running a temperature so did not want to make him sick and did not get to spend those last days with him. In my mind we would have at least a few months like we did with my mother when she passed of cancer. Yes, my mother too! 

So, how long do we walk around with cancer and medical individuals overlook what maybe should be checked in the beginning?  I knew almost immediately when I saw my lab test in January 2014. Of course, I went into a bit of denial about it and it took me until June that year to finally find a doctor to listen to me and send me to an oncologist so at the very least we could rule oit cancer. With all the cancer in my family health history I knew that was a big possibility but did attempt to stay positive about it all. And ended up we proved I had cancer rather than ruling it out. 

This makes me wonder because of the timing with my parents rather they really could be classified as passing from brain cancer. They were found to have lung cancer first but upon death they seem to rule the cause of death as the last Cancer to show up which is brain cancer for many, I think, or should you die while having a heart attack then that is listed as cause of death. To me it becomes another form of “what came first,” the chicken or the egg. 

Right now, I am so tired and not entirely sure I am making any form of sharing others will enjoy reading or if it makes sense. I hope it does and hope it is helpful in some way to another person. Even if it is only entertaining and or helpful to one person I will feel satisfied to have shared this with you. 

If I don’t write again between now and Christmas, best wishes for a safe and healthy Christmas for all of you. My prayers are with everyone to have their best, healthiest holiday to date and same for the new year. 

Peace and Blessings,



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