The story behind the suit

Jun 28

Since Memorial Day, when our pool opened, I’ve known that I needed a new swimsuit.  Last year I was carrying post-partum weight, and, fortunately, my body seems to have rebounded better than my swimsuits.  (Ha ha!)  The need for a new swimsuit is complicated though.  I have many of the young mom body issues, but this year, I know I’ll also be having a mastectomy in August.  Talk about a whole new load of swimsuit issues.  So, I’ve been wearing my frumpy, stretched-out suits to the pool for a month because I did not know what to do about this.  I’m too cheap to buy a swimsuit (dude, they’re expensive!) that will work for less than one summer. I intend to buy a suit that will work pre and post-mastectomy.  This week, I decided to break down and Google “mastectomy swimsuit.”  Now that is a Google search I never thought I would do.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Lands End carries a line of mastectomy suits.  (Cool, huh?  Thank you Lands End executives!)  Buying swimsuits online seems wildly optimistic, so I went to Sears today to try some on (without kids–thank you Phenom!)  Unfortunately, their mastectomy suits are only available online, but at least I figured out what size I am in Lands End swimwear.  I haven’t actually ordered one yet.  Maybe later tonight.  Or this weekend.  Or maybe when I get a coupon via email. I realize this is post is somewhat random, but it illustrates where I’m at in the process right now.  I’m in my chemo routine and I’m at the point, three months in, where having cancer often feels normal.  Or, at least, not so stop-me-in-my-tracks-shocking.  There are times though, when things like swimsuits come out of the dark and remind me that I have cancer and life is different. Hopefully, I’ll find a suit that I like.  What’s more important though, is the plan to take my kids to the pool this summer, and next summer, and the summer after that, and the one after that.  That’s the main reason I need a new swimsuit: I’ve got plans.  I’m not going to let cancer, or a swimsuit, get in the way of...

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Things that matter

Jun 27

Dr. Wonderful asks, as he does at every appointment, “So Jen, have you noticed any changes after the last week or so?” “Well, I had some tingling after the last chemo for the first time.  That was cool.”  He nods.  “And I think it is a bit smaller, but I have a hard time assessing.  The biggest thing that I did was to send out a request on the blog for everyone to pray for some dramatic changes.”  I laugh and explain,  “I told them you wanted it to shrink faster, so that is what I told everybody to pray for.” Dr. W., “Okay, well, we’ll take a look.” After the exam he says, “Well Jen, I think that you should continue to call upon whatever higher power is working for you because I see a lot of difference.  The three-dimensional quality of the tumor is continuing to shrink down and I am happy with the receding nature of the cancer.”  He pauses, then looks at me, “Definitely keep praying and call on your people.” Yes folks, I do believe my oncologist just gave me a prescription for prayer.  Yes, sir!   Me, first thinking, “Yes!  I will tell everyone to keep praying!  God is answering our prayers.”  Also thinking, I don’t have a clear idea about what he means by the three-dimensional nature of the tumor, but I do understand “shrink down” and “receding nature”.  Sounds like o b l i t e r a t i o n to me!!!  Prayers matter! Praying the big hair scary prayers is hard.  It takes guts and risk and putting your heart on the table, knowing that if you don’t get what you ask for you’ll have to pick up the pieces and soldier on.  But.  Today I feel like I got a yes to a big hairy scary prayer.  And, oh my Lord, it is sweet.  Isn’t life like that in so many instances?  Big risk and big reward.  Amen. Tonight I sitting here feeling grateful.  And I’m also busy tingling.  (Which I love.)  Living with cancer is a plate full of perspective.  Some things matter, and some things don’t.  I’m working every day on the It Matters list....

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Chemo check in

Jun 27

“How is chemo going?”  This is the most-asked question of the past week, so I thought I would answer it here. Today is chemo number ten of sixteen.  Chemo continues to go well for me: I love knowing that cancer cells are dying!  Chemo Days are happy days, for sure. This is my sixth round of chemo on this drug (Taxol).  Now that I am in the rhythm of getting Taxol every week, I don’t seem to be knocked down each time.  Instead, I am generally fatigued.  I sleep a solid eight to ten hours at night, and I try to catch a short nap when Greta sleeps each day.  It’s a lot of sleep!  Luckily, my girls are little, so I fall into their schedule.  The best part: as long as I indulge my sleep schedule, I feel pretty normal (even great) the rest of the time.  I have no nausea on this drug at all.  My chemo experience is a lot different than what I thought it would be before I had cancer!  The fatigue is tolerable, and I still live my full life with minimum cancer allowances.  Sunday we went to church and then the pool for half the day; Tuesday we went to the zoo; we are busy! Phenom watches the girls on Chemo Day.  My routine is to drop them off, go for a run, and then tidy up the house.  Then I head to my oncology office for five to six hours.  After, I head straight home to pick up the girls for the dinner, bath, bed routine.  Phenom also watches the girls on either Thursday or Friday.  Brad and I call it my recovery day; I soak in extra sleep, grocery shop, chop veggies, and make “me” the priority.  My recovery days make a big mental difference for me; I have much-cherished alone time in my house, and I get to do the jobs that are hard to do with two little people around.  Most importantly, I nap with no alarm and no kids to interrupt.  I am so thankful to Brad for this gift, and to Phenom for giving my girls such a fun summer camp experience at her house.  I...

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A Smile

Jun 20

I’m sitting here in my bed, computer open, watching So You Think You Can Dance.  I am being totally frivolous and lazy and it feels good. I keep getting goose bumps.  Oddly frequently.  Also, the tumor site is tingling from time to time.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Active, restless, swarming O B L I T E R A T I O N ! Thank you for your prayers.  I believe I am being healed even as I type.  :: Grin ::  Thank you God. Smile on, people.  Smile....

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Hair-y Details

Jun 20

People keep asking the same questions about my hair, so I’ll try to answer them here. It was after my second chemo treatment that I shaved my head.  When I pulled on a lock of hair, twenty or so hairs would come loose.  I still had a full head of hair when the wind blew it away.  Actually, I didn’t shave my own head, we had our friend come over.  A brilliant friend, who learned to cut his own hair in high school, brought his clippers to college, and charged four dollars a cut to every kid in his dorm room every month.  (Do the math; I’m so teaching my girls to cut hair before they go to college!)  Anyway, after that day, I was left with a super short (one millimeter) buzz cut.  I don’t regret buzzing my hair this way: that day, that experience, was one of my favorite cancer moments so far.  I had been worried about it (mostly Maren being traumatized), and, instead, it was fun. As my hair continued to fall out,  I would lose the little hairs.  After about one month, my head got really itchy.  Within a day or two, two different women came up to  me and said, “Duct tape.” Blank stare from me, “Excuse me?” Her, nodding solemnly, “For the hair when it won’t fall out.  Trust me.  Use duct tape.” So I did.  Actually, Brad did.  We got the duct tape from his work bench, and brought it up to our bathroom.  We taped my head (sticky side down, obviously) and pulled it off.  Sure enough, the itchy little hairs came off with the duct tape.  It didn’t hurt at all.  We repeated it and did it all over my head.  We laughed while we did it.  Who would have thought my amazing husband would ever, ever be duct-taping my head?  That’s another fun cancer memory, and also one of the best cancer tips I can pass along. I still have to shave my legs.  In my opinion, cancer totally dropped the ball on this one.  So. Annoying. My eyebrows and eyelashes are holding on for dear life, but they are much thinner.  Probably thirty percent of what they...

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