Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cookbook in second printing

Staff Writer

“The idea (for the cookbook) came when the doctors told me I had six months to live,” Polly Stradley said.

That time limit has passed now and Polly is on her second printing of “Hey, Good Lookin’ What’s Cooking? (In the Kitchen With Polly).”

Polly, now 75, married Sam Stradley 30 years ago and came to live in the same house they still call home just outside Holly Springs.

The Stradley family is a large one — and has faced its share of sadness already. Sam’s son Ray passed away three years ago with a heart attack at the age of 32. Polly’s daughter Belinda passed away at age 7 with heart problems.

“She’s a beautiful memory,” Polly said sadly.

The Stradley family now includes four daughters, Susan Brame, Laney Gresham, Paula Stephenson and Jill Strauss; a son, Mitch Curl; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Polly has been a homemaker since she and Sam married, raising their family and traveling with Sam, who is in construction. She was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in October, a year ago.

“I had an appointment with my dermatologist and when I showed him the hard place on my leg, he immediately made an appointment with a surgeon. After a rush surgery, the surgeon then called Polly and said the words we all dread hearing, “I hate to tell you this on the phone, but it’s a malignant melanoma.”

Soon after that, an oncologist in Oxford found a softball sized tumor in her abdomen and he sent her to the Vanderbilt Cancer Clinic in Nashville. That tumor was removed and then four weeks later, all the lymph nodes were removed from her legs.

“I was very weak after that,” Polly said. “You certainly find out how many friends you have at a time like this. I was surrounded by prayer and support.”

Three months after that surgery, Polly was pronounced cancer free. Three-four months later, after a PET scan, another melanoma was found — the size of a softball, according to the doctor — and this one was on her aorta and inoperable.

That’s when Polly and her family were told she had six months to live.

When they gave Polly the time limit, she realized she needed to get in a hurry.

She had a set of file folders in the kitchen cabinets holding all her recipes and had intended for a long time to put together a cookbook for her family.

“My granddaughter Rachel (Brame) came and did all the typing while I put it together. Her fingers would just fly on the keyboard!” Polly said.

Because of the time constraint Polly was under, they took the cookbook to Fundcraft in Collierville and ordered 200.

But Polly’s days were not as numbered as had been thought.

She had been asked to participate in a cancer trial program, but was very uncertain, as the literature made it sound very dangerous.

But after talking with her doctor and realizing that even if it didn’t help her, the results could help those who came after her, Polly decided to undergo the trial treatment.

“After two chemo’s and the pills ,I took some more tests. Sam and I went into the doctor’s office and he said he wanted us to sit down for the news.

“He showed us the X-rays when it was first discovered and there was the large dark spot on my aorta. Then he showed us the X-rays from the previous day — and it was gone! I was certainly glad I was sitting down!” Polly said.

The doctor then told Polly that she was the first one and was the “breakthrough” case of the trial.

“I am still so elated. One out of seven people! And think of all the people who will be helped!” she said.

“I was never weak and didn’t feel bad. I didn’t lose my’s been a miracle all the way through!”

Polly will have to take the experimental treatment for a year, but she is well past the six-month time limit originally given.

“I’ve even started back with my church activities,” Polly said.

She is a member of First United Methodist Church in Holly Springs.

And her cookbook is now in its second printing and that 200 is nearly gone also!

“We’ve more than gotten our money back from the printing, so now, all the profits are going for cancer research,” Polly said. “I’ve given all my children, grandchildren and even my great-grandchildren copies (to be put up for them).”

“Every time I go somewhere, someone asks me for a copy of the book. It just stuns me — blows me away!” she said laughing.

“Everyone has just been so wonderful!”

“I asked God for a miracle and I truly have been given one,” she said.

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