Summer Plans

Vintage McCall's pattern

The last time I posted here, my CA-125 (the blood marker for Ovarian Cancer) was up to 19, from its usual awesome 3. Anything above 35 is bad, but for ladies who are in remission, single digits is the goal.

Last week, we found out my number is 353. Yikes.

D was in Europe on business when I emailed him the news from the parking lot of the doctor’s office. It was one a.m. where he was, so I knew it would be about five hours beforeĀ  I could talk to him. I felt like I needed that much time to gather the strength to hear his voice on the other line, to tell him we had to start chemo again.

I drove the twenty minutes home thinking about how I was going to break the news to my mom who was at home with little J. I couldn’t think of the right words. As it turned out, I didn’t need to say anything. She knew the minute I walked in the door, as moms do. We sat down at the table and looked at each other in shock. The same table, by the way, where she helped me with my math homework, served our family the best dinners imaginable, and planned my birthday parties. We cried a bit, discussed logistics, then got dressed up and took little J out for a burger at our local favorite pub.

While we’d been talking, D’s Blackberry had beeped him late at night in Stuttgart. He packed and gotten in a cab. Before we’d walked out the door for Finn’s Pub, his assistant had gotten him on the next flight for SFO. (Thank you forever, Amy.)

Since then, I have been scanned (again!) and am now assuredly visible from space: a warbly green radioactive glow in the outline of a woman’s body, her two hands held by the bravest guys on the planet, an army of friends and family behind her.

The scan showed a little tumor on my left lower inner side and a “sprinkling” of ditzels of disease on my lower inner right side. The pain is worse than when I was first diagnosed for some inexplicable reason, and the rogue cells are more aggressive than they were the first time, which is hard to fathom given how fierce they were before.

But, as Ms. Miller says, they are a house of cards waiting to be toppled. Treatment starts tomorrow. I’ll be getting a powerhouse combination of cisplatin and gemzar. I’ll get anotherĀ dose the following Tuesday, a week off, then start again. This will repeat for six to nine sessions, depending on how quickly the house of cards falls.

I know. I can’t believe I’m typing these words either. But here is the silver lining (and it is a thick and shiny one). Because of my BRCA-1 gene mutation, the combo of chemo drugs I’m getting has a very high chance of working. In my mind, it will absolutely work and has, in fact even started to work. The rogue cells are shaking in their boots and stomping in protest. Also, it’s not going to be cold and flu season. And finally, we are all determined to have a lovely summer in spite of this slight inconvenience.

We won’t be setting up a CaringBridge page. We’ll be posting here about our lovely summer: swimming lessons, trips to the beach, and with occasional updates on that other thing.

Love and hugs,


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  1. Ms. Miller’s avatar

    We will huff and puff and blow that house of cards down with a gale force wind of laughter and the sheer joy of your beautiful summer, my dear. Love you. xo

  2. Christine M’s avatar

    Jennifer, I’m so sorry to hear this. You will beat this thing!

  3. Kim Baccellia’s avatar

    Jennifer, I’m so sorry. My prayers will be with you. In my church we have this prayer roll. Would you like me to add your name?

    I’m with Chris, you can beat this! My thoughts and prayers are with you. If you’d like to talk or anything, just email me, ok?


  4. miss t.’s avatar

    Thinking of you Jennifer and sending loving support and visions of you, Dennis, James and your army of friends splashing in the warm sea on a hot summer day, tossing around a beach ball under a blue sky with the sun shining brightly on your warm bodies. All I can hear is abundant laughter and the sound of the waves lapping the shore. Much love!

  5. Renee’s avatar

    Good Afternoon Gorgeous~

    I read your blog and know you face a startling, tough road. I also know that road is filled with moments to be treasured. As you sit on the beach (covered, of course) watching the sun sparkling off the water this summer, know that all the cancer cells will be blown away like grains of sand on a breezy day.

    May you go from strength to strength. Know you are cocooned among friends and family.



  6. Mike Rea’s avatar

    I know the tyranny of the blood tests and we are so sorry to hear of this latest hurdle. Such terrible hurdles that few have to clear. Yet you are clearly a spirited pro — and an inspiration, for your courage and the combined love of your family. If there’s anything we can do this summer to make it easier or brighter or summerier, just let us know. I know K will/has reached out.

    Love and health,
    Mike, w/ Karen and Elsie

  7. jan’s avatar

    You are perfect. You are well. You are the female warrior. You will win.


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