Unspoken prayers

Apr 20

I’ve been feeling pretty cruddy for the past few days.  Nothing major: achey, tired, head-achey, sore bones, etc., but enough that I’ve felt blah. It might be jet lag. It might be a bug I picked up somewhere. It might be my body’s response to the new cancer drug I started last Tuesday. Honestly, all causes are equally possible.  This morning I called Dr. Wonderful’s office to describe how I’m feeling and they know me well enough to know that I don’t call unless I mean it.  The consensus from the team there was to rest up, stay hydrated, and check in again on Wednesday.  My symptoms are not easily attributed to any one ‘fixable’ thing, so I’m to stay the course. It was the answer I was expecting, but it still feels good to have a professional order you to rest.  The only other thing they could have done was to have me come in for bloodwork and/or fluids, both of which I agree are probably overkill. I have been resting as much I can without sacrificing fun.  I took naps over the weekend but happily rallied for the fun stuff: Maren’s birthday party, a luncheon, time with my family.  Maren turns eight this week and she is so delightful, creative, and kind.  It was fun to host such a small sweet party and watch it bring her so much joy. As usual, my champion Brad picked up my slack when I stepped aside over the weekend.  When I woke this morning (Monday morning) still feeling blah, I was trying to figure out how to give my lovely Greta a good day and also meet my own not-feeling-so-hot needs.  As I was midway through the thoughts, I got a relatively early morning message from a friend: she invited Greta over to play with her daughter for the day.  Perfect.  It was such a blessing to get that message/invitation, and to know that Greta would have an awesome day with a friend she treasures, and that I could truly be selfish with my own needs.  Sometimes God answers prayers we don’t even speak on a conscious level.  I love that. Tonight I rallied for some mom moments, a volleyball...

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A summit

Apr 16

A summit

In the fall, I seized upon an opportunity that I inadvertently stumbled across whilst googling “bucket list” “inexpensive midwest usa bucket list”. In a trifecta of awesomeness, I found an adventure that is completely in my husbands wheelhouse, won the hard-to-get reservation lottery at the destination, and planned it as a surprise getaway weekend for us.  Adventure dating… it might be Brad’s love language. What is this awesomeness?  I arranged for us to have an overnight stay at LeConte Lodge in Tennessee, inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  (If you are a hiker/outdoor enthusiast and you haven’t heard of LeConte Lodge, you’re welcome.) The reading and researching continued… the anticipation of such trips is fun for me.  I learned that there were five different trails that lead up to the top of Mount LeConte, and they ranged in distance from 5.5 miles to 8 miles.  In my mind, I was envisioning a hike… which is essentially walking… for that distance.  No problem.  I can do that even with 1 1/2 lungs.  (Haha!) What I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to was the elevation at the base of the climb versus the elevation at the top of the climb.  The elevation gain for our hike was 3820 feet, culminating at the top of Mount LeConte, which sits at 6593 feet and is the highest peak in the Great Smoky National Park. After the trip, I was explaining to Chief Sister how it was harder than I had expected.  Her response, “Um, yes Jen.  There is a major difference between a hike and a summit.  You summited a mountain.”  Darn sister–so wise! Because I am a total procrastinator, I began digging into the details of the trip about three weeks before the actual trip (3/28-3/29).  The “reservation lottery” I won dictated the date: the first opening Saturday night of the March to November LeConte season.  As Brad and I began reading up on the adventure, we realized that this was not going to be “spring hiking down south in Tennessee”.  All of the pictures/blogs from LeConte in March show snow.  Yikes.  Um, I was not prepared for this.  A further look at the forecast showed even-colder-than-normal temperatures.  I...

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Eye of the beholder

Apr 15

Eye of the beholder

Yesterday I was driving home late with the girls in the car with me.  I was feeling niggles of worry and heartache for some people I love, so therefore I also found myself joy-hunting. When I feel negative emotion of any kind, my general practice is to press in gratitude.  It’s amazing how much better I feel after I’ve righted my perspective in this way.  Gratitude heals. My circumstances do not, should not impede my ability to feel joyful. So, I was joy-hunting.  We listened to sing-out-loud music.  I prayed.  I listed blessings of the day.  I prayed some more. I passed my phone back to Maren because she wanted to text someone (I forget now who or what); after she sent her message, she must have taken this photo out the car window: Isn’t it breath-taking?  I love it.  I love the scene, and I love that my girl is a beauty-seeker.  I don’t know what was going through her mind as she saw the image and recorded it, but I know it was happy thoughts, and I’m so happy to have this record of it.  She, at seven, is crafting a skill that will serve her well in life.  Keep seeking beauty my love. Next up on my phone was series of smiles from my Greta. This girl has an impish grin that lightens every room and every mood.  I love that she seeks joy from within herself.  Another life skill: she is in charge of her own joy.  I’m so proud of her for using her power for good. I love that as I settled down last night, I found my joy because of the tone of my daughter’s simple, unintentional acts.  It was their turn to teach me: simple pleasures, life lessons, perspective. Beauty, joy, love. We each have all we need if only we can see...

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Bombs away

Apr 14

Bombs away

“When do the bombs start dropping?”  This was Chief Sister’s first question when I de-briefed her about the scan and treatment change plan a few weeks ago.  It was a brilliantly encouraging, hopeful response, and it’s the sentiment I’ve stored away in my mind and heart as I’ve carried on over these past few weeks.  She gave me the gift of a vision for this treatment.  Bombs away. I’ve got my new drug Kadcyla dripping in via my IV pole and port as we speak: it’s the one that has chemotherapy chemically bound to Herceptin.  The effect is that of a trojan horse: the cancer cell is blown up from the inside out.  Yes!  I love that imagery.  Would you please pray that the smart bombs find their way to all of my cancer spots and cancer cells?  Thank you.  The medical terminology that we’re praying for is either stable spots or regression; we want no progression/growth. Today is Chemo Tuesday instead of my regular Chemo Monday.  I’m at the bigger main campus oncology office rather than the smaller suburban satellite office I usually attend on Mondays.  Both are happy places, and I’m veteran enough that I know most of the staff anywhere I go in my oncology world. Last time I was at this office was twelve days ago, however it wasn’t for treatment.  It was for fun.  Often I try to brighten the spirits of the folks in the chemo room.  It makes me feel better, it makes them feel better, it makes the staff feel better.   Friends and family know this so they often contribute gifts for me to bring in with me.  My friend Tiffany works for Thirty-One gifts, and last week we made our second annual trip to deliver gifts to cancer patients. Tiffany solicits donations from customers, family and friends to purchase the bags, and then uses her commission to fill the bags with items helpful for chemo patients.  She does not profit from the effort, nor do we accept donations from the recipients.   Bags ready for giving away.   Items in the bags: hard candy, fun socks, chapstick, hand sanitizer, crossword puzzle book, tissues and a blanket. Each bag is tagged...

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Re-entry

Apr 13

Re-entry

I’m back!  (And jet-lagged.  Ha!) I gave big hugs to say good-bye to the ones I left behind.  Boo! I claimed more big hugs from the ones who were waiting to greet me on this end.  Yay! I’m a blessed woman indeed. The things I’ll remember most from this trip are the lingering conversations.  That, and the laughter.  Not having my children with me meant that I was better at asking questions and listening to the answers.  We sat, and walked, and ate, and drank shoulder-to-shoulder and talked all the way along the week.  Sometimes our view was exotic and spectacular; I breathed in sharply and soaked those moments into my soul.  Most of the time it was the people I zeroed in on.  I’ve long since had a great repoire and dialogue with my aunts and uncles.  They are some of my biggest cheerleaders and encouragers.  As the oldest cousin at 35 and my youngest cousin at 19, our generation are all now officially adults and our relationships, our friendships, have the capacity to be much deeper.  We are no longer united only by the ties of the our parents and grand-parents, we too are weaving our own ties.  I like them.  They are fun interesting people whom I’m proud of and pleased to know. My grandfather used to say, “Remember who you are,” as we — the family — would leave his house.  I’m one of the family, and I’m proud of my life, this legacy.   8 of 11 cousins together at the wedding.   A night out after the wedding. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder talking as we spotted dolphins, manta-rays and turtles in the water below. Ahh, it’s good to remember, and it’s good to be home.  Re-entry is like that....

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