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It’s not the clearest photo, but here’s Little J crossing home plate at his first T-ball game. It was my first, as well, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The kids ate it up: piling on the ball like football players in the outfield, cheering each other on, and sliding into home base. Little J jumped and cheered for every one of his own plays. Besides me, the kid is his biggest fan.

But by the second inning, all bets were off. That’s when I realized t-ball games were like Skittles, offering a huge rush and followed by a thorough crash.

Kids scattered behind the backstop, climbed the trash bins, and hung on their parents, asking to go home.

Luckily the coaches called the game and we all went to dinner for second winds all around.

Little J and his red-headed friends kept us entertained and I was amazed by J’s stamina. After all, before the game, he’d danced his booty off at the school’s talent show rehearsal.

He had had, he declared, an AWESOME day.

And sometimes for me that is all I can ask for.

Hugs,

Jennifer

True

Last night I made a typical Tuesday-night dinner: chicken tenders with herby panko crust, green beans, and smashed sweet potatoes.

When Dennis arrived, the dinner plates were still steamy and we all dug in for our first family sit-down dinner since Hawaii.

I looked at my first bite of green beans and thought in an instant how comforting they looked, so predictable and normal, and as I chewed them, I was suddenly struck by how so terribly unpredictable and not normal things were right now.

I dashed to the bathroom because my eyes were welling and I couldn’t face Little J with a broken, tear-streamed face.

Little J and Dennis followed me into the bathroom and Dennis instinctively began to tell J I was sad to be home from Hawaii, but a second later we all realized we had to share with Little J what was going on. You see, we usually spare him the ups and downs, but it just felt like the right thing to do, to explain.

I sat on the toilet and cried while Dennis took J back to the dinner table and told him what was happening. He explained that Mommy’s cancer number was up, that we need to do a scan and maybe change her medicine. J asked, “What if the number goes back down?”

When I returned to the table, Little J searched my face for clues. To what? Maybe how bad it was. Maybe something left unsaid. I smiled at him and told him I loved him and that he had to eat all his potatoes. And that if he tried the green beans, he could have an extra cookie. It all comes back to what’s right in front of us. Dinner. What makes us smile. Cookies.

Little J did a few little tricks to make me laugh, things he knows will draw a smile. I took his little hand from across the table and told him thank you. And more importantly, he didn’t have to feel like he had to make this okay. It’s not his fault. He doesn’t have to try to fix it or make me laugh. I don’t want him to take on that responsibility.

It was hard to look at Little J for the rest of the night, knowing that he knew, knowing that he’d seen me cry. Believe it or not, and I will just tell YOU this: through everything, he has only seen me cry about the cancer this one time. And though it was hard to show him my vulnerability, it also brought me some kind of peace, some kind of relief to know that he understands it’s ok to be afraid. To be vulnerable. And that we’re going through this together as a family. And there are no secrets.

I didn’t wake up with my game-face on, like I normally do the day after bad news. In fact, it was all I could to drag myself out of bed after a fitful night’s sleep. I walked J to school then came back and sat for a long time, feeling angry and sad. And I allowed myself to feel those things. It’s exhausting, but it’s honest.

At the bottom of it all, my faith glows like a fiery orb. And I’ll be honest with my feelings and allow them to rush through me. I’ll take care of myself and be honest with my family. And when I need to act, and be strong, I will.

Hugs,

Jennifer

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So we met with Doc G today and the news isn’t great.

My CA 125 is up another 20 points. That’s 88 if you’re keeping track.

The good thing is that it hasn’t skyrocketed and we have some time to figure out what to do next.

The outrageous thing is that the drug I should take next, Doxil, is not available. This is outrageous to my family, friends, and me. And yet there’s seemingly nothing we can do about it.

So the plan for now is to do a Pet/Ct scan this week to see where the activity is while we research clinical trials.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been treated in the last three years. I know my optimism is endless. My energy, however, seems finite and I need to be in shape for new treatment at some point.

The near future calls for simplicity in my endeavors and plenty of time with family and friends.

Hugs,
Jenn

Home

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Some one is glad we are back.

It’s a rough transition from paradise to a-half-hour-til-you-find-out-if-your-cancer-is-outsmarting-your-chemo.

We’re all on pins and needles. I’m thinking of palm trees and little J dancing in the sand to keep calm.

More later.

Hugs,

Jenn

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This is more like it.

The sun is out and we’ve been enjoying every beam.

Thanks to Uncle Mike, we’ve been poolside at the Sheraton today.

We made leis and took a hula class this morning. See J’s demonstration of both above.

It’s just 3:00 now but it feels like we’ve been out here for days. We don’t want to waste a single golden ray.

Aloha,
Jenn

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At the airport Friday, I asked friends to imagine us on Kauai with blessings for healing pouring down on me like rain.

And it has not stopped raining since we arrived. Literally.

You know us. We’re not a family to let anything dampen our spirits, but we need sun.

Please imagine us with blessings shining down on us like the SUN!!

Aloha and mahalo,

Jenn

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I haven’t written in weeks, I realize. I haven’t felt much like it. That hasn’t happened since, well, ever.

I’m not sure why it is but I don’t feel like it matters. The good thing is that I feel like it now.

We’re leaving for a week in Hawaii on Friday. I’m at the Cancer Center now, announcing to all who will listen, that I don’t want to know what my CA-125 is. I’ll deal with that when we’re back, when I have eight days of aloha to buoy me up for any kind of news.

For now, there is shopping for a swimsuit, packing my carry-on with in-flight surprises for Little J, and crossing our fingers for good weather.

Hugs,

Jenn

Be OK

I was sitting in Room 6 at the Cancer Center this morning when Kim walked in and said, “What’s wrong? And don’t give me that ‘Nothing, I’m fine’ business.’”

And before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “I don’t want to die,” squeezed her outstretched hand, and started to cry.

This surprised me, as not five minutes before, I had been bravely telling Doc G that I had come to accept the fact that I would some day succumb to this disease. I wanted to finally know, I persuaded, how much longer this battle would go on.

He told me he didn’t have a crystal ball and new-fangled therapies are around the corner and new, promising trials taking place right now, at the Cancer Center. But if there were no ground to gain by these new treatments, no miracles: a year, maybe two.

I suspected as much and I was OK with hearing this because there ARE new and promising treatments around the corner and I DO believe in miracles.

You might be wondering how this all came up today since my last CT scan was clear. Well, my CA-125 tumor marker is up ten points. But this could simply be an anomaly. This is my fourth time being treated for this disease in just over three years and one thing has been true for every occurrence: I’ve felt the pain before the onset. And currently I have no pain.

None of this is in my hands and I can’t keep track of the ups and downs. Let me just say that one-to-two years is a lot longer than many other cancer patients are given, many other much-younger cancer patients at that.

I’m off to pick up little J now, and for all he knows, and for all any of us know for that matter, mama’s gonna be around for a long time.

Here’s my mantra for the day. Enjoy:

 

Hugs,

Jennifer

 

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I woke at six to the sound of Dennis and Little J zipping their hoodies and talking in hushed voices. Each week they head out early to help with the Food Bank. Dennis unloads the truck and his helper makes a display of the food available each week.

I love that they do this together. They’ve also been working hard on their car for the Scouts’ Pinewood Derby Race.

I’ve been taking walks, sometimes with Leigh. We stroll along the marshland and our laughter cracks and scatters across the water like a startled flock of birds.

This weekend our friends from Australia visit and we attend an auction to help cure Kayla Rose.

I passed my next door neighbor on my walk this morning, her bright cheeks two pink flowers on a gray landscape. She was recently diagnosed with cancer. Every ounce of bounce in her step tells me she will be fine.

We blow each other kisses from across the street, then carry on, walking with purpose: two stones skillfully skipped across the water, touching down and changing direction. Never sinking.

Hibernation

Well, things are going so much better. *Cowers and waits for other shoe.* (Sigh)

My pain is gone, my tumors are gone, my dad is recovering beautifully, and it seems we can all exhale. Whoosh.

And many of you, (Marina, Mom, Sandra, Ronnie, Linda) will be happy to know that I’ve embraced a new, simpler, slower way of life. I’m simply just not doing as much.

I’ve gotten into a routine of spending my mornings reading, resting, walking, juicing and taking care of things around the house. But my main goal for each day is to simply have enough energy to spend quality time with Little J from 2:45 to 6:45. It’s such a blessing to have the strength to pick him up from school each day, rather than send him to after care. It’s so great to have four solid hours with him to go on play dates, do homework, read, go on a bike ride, whatever. It’s totally my job right now to make myself strong enough each day for that time with him. That’s it.

And not much has changed as far as my day-to-day except that I don’t create more busy-ness in my life. I do the bare minimum. I think that’s a lesson I could have used years and years ago.

I would call this a kind of hibernation, except for the fact that we’re not having winter for some reason. Our daffodils are already pushing up through the earth, still dry from a crackling autumn.

It sprinkled a little this morning and rained a bunch the weekend before last, but we need a good soak-down rain, to fill our reservoirs, spill over the edges our rain buckets, fill our gutters with worms.

I’d like to put a log on the fire and sip my tea to the sound of pattering rain while I shore up my energy for an afternoon with Little J. Til then, I’ll imagine the tinnish fingers of my good blessings sprinkling down on the rooftop, recline a little further and wait.

Hugs,

Jennifer

ps: Happy Birthday, Ronnie!

Photo Credit

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