Providing care to mastectomy survivors


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October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is over, but for many women, the follow-up to a mastectomy remains. Today, our featured cooks are in the business to assist those women by providing fitting for prosthetics.

Colleen Passey and Terri Hillman work through the Medicine Shoppe in Rexburg to serve those in need of prosthetics. Colleen has been a master fitter for 15 years. She is very adept at what she does. She has lived in the Rexburg area all of her life, and if she doesn’t know you, you can bet she knows someone you know. She is a widow and has two children, Kristen Bergeson and Brett Passey, and three grandchildren. Colleen has been a member of the Upper Valley Wranglers/Madison County Sheriff’s Posse since 1972. Her daughter also rides with her. She loves to Dutch oven cook, spend time with her grandkids, camp and ride horses. Her favorite food would be halibut, and her family would choose her chicken and noodle soup as a favorite food.

Terri Hillman has been a fitter for the past six years and attributes much of her expertise to Colleen. They make a great team. Terri has lived in the area for the past 42 years. She and Colleen both live in Burton about a country block from each other and have been accused at times of being sisters. Terri has three children, Lindsey Yearsley, Tyler Hillman and Paige Barney, and eight grandchildren. Her husband, Roger, and granddaughter, Brynlee, also ride in the Upper Valley Wranglers/Madison County Sheriff’s Posse, so she stays pretty involved in that as well. Terri loves to cook, spend time with her family, camp and ride horses. Her favorite food would be Italian food. Roger would choose steak and potatoes while her family likes her fried chicken, potatoes and gravy.

Both Terri and Colleen take their fitting job seriously, and the Medicine Shoppe provides a fitting room that offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere of caring and concern. Women that come to them have either been in the battle or are dealing with the battle against breast cancer. Some come after being diagnosed and just before surgery to be fitted with an after-surgery camisole. Being able to be fitted personally takes the guess and gamble out of seeking help online.

Terri and Collen are able to reassure and direct patients to help with counseling because of their connection with doctors and professionals in that field. They are sympathetic to whatever the ladies need and have spent hours laughing, crying, holding their hands or just listening. Anyone is welcome to their fitting room, which is among a few in the region that provide this service.

The fitting room provides a wonderful variety of beautiful lingerie from lacy to basic. They have colors, and their prosthetics come in many shapes and sizes, so, depending on the situation, they have what anyone would need.

Providing this service to cancer patients provides a chance for a woman to feel beautiful again, and that is their sole purpose. Seeing transformation from tears and fear to joy and laughter is so rewarding to Terri and Colleen. It is a “feel-good” feeling they get from this work. The women they fit are their heroes. These women have been in the fight of their lives, and Terri and Colleen just want to be there to help enhance their lives and the future.

Terri expresses appreciation to Jim Stevenson, the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy owner, who asked her to establish this service, and within a year, their files were filling and Colleen came on board to assist. They are front and center in everything they do, and it is so very gratifying to see the changes in the demeanor of their clients over time and a couple of visits. They love their job, and not only do they do it for their ladies, but knowing how important it is to others, they reap the good feelings themselves.

Today, we have learned a bit about the importance of breast prostheses fittings, which we have available right in our own backyard. Making friends is important to Colleen and Terri as they work with their ladies. Many times, recipes and food ideas are exchanged in the social visits, and today, Colleen and Terri have shared several of their family-favorite recipes for you to try yourselves. Remember, if you are ever in a situation to need their services, they are willing to work with you and support you in your recovery.

Simple Sugar Cookie Bars

(Terri Hillman)

For cookie bars:

1 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1½ teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 cups flour, fluffed or sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

½ cup softened butter

1 pound powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Sprinkles, if desired, for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape sides and mix again briefly. Stir in remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. It won’t come together as a dough initially, but if you grab a handful, it should hold its shape. Spread dough into prepared pan and press down evenly. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. To make the frosting, stir all ingredients together until smooth and fluffy. Start by adding three tablespoons milk and work up from there until frosting is the desired consistency. Spread over cooled cookie bars and add sprinkles, if desired. Cut into bars and serve.

Note: Make sure to fluff or sift flour before measuring and level the top of measuring cup. Not fluffing or sifting will mean more flour added to the dough and will make for a stiffer end-product.

Fresh Apple Cake

(Colleen Passey)

4 cups peeled, sliced apples

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1½ teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

½ cup oil or melted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together apples and sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, oil and vanilla. Add to apple mixture, blending thoroughly. Stir in pecans. Bake in a 9x13 2-inch pan for 50 minutes. Top with caramel sauce and serve warm.

Caramel sauce:

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup heavy cream or canned milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook three minutes. Serve warm.

Southwestern Chicken

(Colleen Passey)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can sliced olives

1 package shredded cheese

1 small jar salsa

1 jar honey BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a glass baking dish put a small amount of salsa. Place chicken on top and cover with BBQ sauce and remaining salsa, enough to cover halfway up the baking dish. Place olives on top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Take cover off and add cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

Note: For Dutch oven, use a 12-inch vessel. Bake with 10 coals on bottom and 16 on top.

No-Egg Chocolate Cake

(Terri Hillman)

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup cocoa

2 cups water

1 cup oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together and then add the remaining ingredients. Mix until smooth and bake in a 9x13-inch greased and floured baking pan at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Frost while still warm, not hot, with your favorite chocolate icing.

Note: This recipe can be cut in half.

Cauliflower-Broccoli Salad

(Terri Hillman)

Toss together:

1 head cauliflower, chopped fine without stalks

1 head broccoli, chopped fine without stalks

¼ cup chopped onion

1 pound fried bacon, cut in pieces and drained


2 cups mayonnaise

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

Mix dressing ingredients together, except for mozzarella, and pour over vegetables one day ahead and refrigerate. When ready to serve, top with mozzarella cheese.

Creamsicle Salad

(Colleen Passey)

1 6-ounce package of peach Jell-O

1½ cups boiling water

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Then add:

1 6-ounce can orange juice concentrate

1 cup cold water

1 15½-ounce can pineapple chunks with juice

1 11-ounce can Mandarin oranges, drained

Chill until slightly thick. In another bowl, mix together:

1 3-ounce package French vanilla instant pudding

1 cup of milk

Add to the Jell-O mixture.

Make a topping of the following:

Combine 2 cups French vanilla or Pina Colada yogurt

1½ cups whipped topping

Spread over the gelatin mixture and return to refrigerator to set.

Note: You can vary Jell-O, yogurt and pudding flavors. You can also add coconut to the topping or as a garnish.

Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake

(Colleen Passey)

This is for a 12-inch Dutch oven.

½ cup butter

¾ cup brown sugar

8 to 10 pineapple slices

1 yellow cake mix

1½ cups pineapple juice (if needed, add water to make full amount.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 to 10 maraschino cherries

Line Dutch oven with foil or liner. Melt butter in lined oven. Add brown sugar and spread over bottom. Arrange the pineapple slices around bottom. Put cherry in center of each slice of pineapple. Put cake mix in a bowl and add juice. Mix well. Pour slowly over pineapple in Dutch oven. Bake for 25–30 minutes at 350 degrees — 8 coals on bottom and 14 coals on top. When done, serve with whipped topping or ice cream.

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