SILENT SABBATH 5/31/09

Thanx for checking in.
J’s doing well.
Was at church this morning.
More later… 🙂

Don’t Waste Your ________ (fill in the blank).

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SEQUEL PICS & DEBRIEF & OTHER-SATURDAY 5/30/09

THE LAST 2 DAYS IN J’S WORDS…

SUCCESSFUL SURGERY DEBRIEF FROM 5/29/09
We went in to Kaiser Friday morning and it seemed we were on the fast track to surgery. First they checked my height and weight, then I had to pee in the cup.  I changed into my booties and gown — this particular type of gown is my favorite because it has a vent where they attach a warm air blower, which is nice.  Dr. Hanks came in almost immediately after and began typing on the computer in my pre-op room.  He asked me more about my appointment with my radiation oncologist, and I told him that because I was having this surgery, I would not be given the extra week of radiation.  So there will be 5 weeks of normal radiation, plus 1 week of a “boost” due to my age.  Then I told him about the different opinions on radiating my lymph nodes — “OH NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!”  interrupted Dr. Hanks!  He’s usually so mellow, so it was a little surprising to hear him be so firm and passionate.  He explained that he had taken 4 lymph nodes and that what he did supposedly made radiation there unnecessary and he seemed VERY against it.  So, it was even more confirmation not to do the lymph node radiation, just the breast.  Again, I’m just glad someone else is helping me make these decisions!

So I had only one person going in for surgery before me, so things moved along quickly.  I had my IV put in — I was thankful that this time the nurse did not miss the vein.  I hate getting pricked these days, and for some reason, I still get a little bit nauseous when needles are in me — it’s strange.  Then the nurse asked me all kinds of questions — do I smoke: no — when did I last take my yada-yada medication: hmm, let me think…   Later I met the anesthesiologist and she asked me if I wanted a cocktail. “Yes please — what will it do?” “It will make you feel like you’ve had a few too many margaritas.”  “Well, okay.”  So I was still pretty cognizant, but a little bit affected by the meds, and they wheeled me away into the room.  This time they just used local anesthesia, so I was awake a little bit longer while in the room, but soon fell asleep and don’t know what happened in there.  I seem to recall being able to hear them talking and me wanting to interject occasionally to try to make my doctor laugh, but I think I was too asleep to actually speak, and I’m sure I was too much in a dream state to say anything coherent anyway.

I woke up slowly, but didn’t sleep as long this time.  Dr. Hanks came by and said, “There’s not much to report.  I took a good chunk so they should be happy with that.”  I don’t know the exact measurements of “a good chunk” but it sounds promising.  I had my juice boxes and graham crackers (brought back memories of church nursery), and finally felt awake enough to go home.  They wheeled me out to the car, which is a nice way to travel through the hospital.
When we got home, Eric and I just plopped in bed and fell asleep for a long while.

Today (Saturday) the area hurts a little, but it doesn’t feel all that different from before — I feel a little more pain and want to be more careful with it than usual, but I was able to prepare some food without much trouble, so things are feeling pretty well.  Overall this surgery was much quicker and easier, and seemingly less painful than the last.  I’m glad to have it behind me so I can move on to radiation.

I ALWAYS SEEM TO RUN INTO SOMEONE
There’s something “small-townish” about Santa Clarita, especially lately for me, for I have been “running into” people a lot lately.  Perhaps the Lord is bringing them my way for some reason.  My mom and I had lots of small town moments at Home Depot.  I went along with her and we spent some time browsing around the garden area, looking at the flowers, while who should walk in but another English teaching colleague from school, Jen Dollman.  She was with her son and they were shopping for some lawn project.  It was really nice to see her and she seemed to be glad to see me and willing to visit a little.  Her son will be a sophomore next year so we were musing that he could be in my class next year (if all goes well with treatment, of course).  Interestingly, she had a tumor also and had surgery this semester (that’s all she needed), so we think it must be risky to teach English at Valencia.  There were also two other people we had long conversations with at Home Depot, but they were people who worked there — one woman who was from Fremont (in the Bay Area) whose son went to Valencia, and a man who gave us many good tips on how to care for bougainvillea.  We must have talked with each person for 15-20 minutes each!  It was interesting how this phenomenon seemed to happen to us today, almost like people wanted to talk and visit, and somehow we were willing to engage with them.  Funny.

KINDNESS IN THE MAIL FROM PAMMIE
Pammie C sent me a really pretty card in the mail that reads: “Is. 41:10 ‘I am your God… I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’  Dear Jennene — our prayers were with you on Friday…during your surgery.  What wonderful news that the chemo worked and your lymphs are good!!  We continue to pray for you as you recover and heal from surgery.  Radiation is next. ugh.  Hop you know that we understand what you are going through.  Love you and MISS you — Pammie and Bob.”  The picture is the beautiful work of John William Waterhouse “The Soul of the Rose,” of which Pammie says, “This picture is one of my favorites.  I even have it up on my wall in the dining room.”  I love Waterhouse too!  So I thought I’d share a link so you can see the picture — just click on the name.  Pammie has been faithful to send cards, gifts and little things to meditate on throughout these past months.  I really appreciate how she and Bob have been keeping up with how things are going and have been praying faithfully for us even while they have been very busy with their own busy lives.

KINDNESS IN THE MAIL FROM MOM C
Eric’s mom, Mary, sent a butterfly card, which reads, “‘fluttering by…just to say hi!’  Hi Jennene, Thinking of you always, praying for you even more than that, knowing you’ll be fine — eternally.  Hope you are resting and doing well.  Love, Mom C and Larry.”  It’s been a long time since I have received so much personal mail, and it’s so fun!  Yes, email and Facebook are wonderful for keeping in touch, but there is something special about getting a surprise in the mailbox that isn’t a bill!  🙂

OVERALL
So overall, it was a nice day, and I relaxed a bit.  We watched a very odd but sort of funny and charming movie, Cold Comfort Farm.  My mom is also almost finished with the outdoor shed she has built.  But really, nothing is ever really “done” in the yard.  It seems to be a never-ending project.

I was an 8 out of10 today — I’ll be glad when I can use my right arm more, esp. since I’m right handed.
But it is kind of fun asking people to do stuff for me…  🙂

PICS FROM SEQUEL SURGERY 5/30/09

THE SEQUEL HAS LEFT THE BUILDING 5/29/09

Hey everyone-
Just a quick note to let you know that I got a text from J (post surgery).
It went a little something like this:
“Hey! Happy bday! I’m awaken alive! Dr. H took a good chunk but looks cosmetically good. waiting to get i.v. out. prob we’ll leave w/in 30 min or so”

Soooo, once again, God needs to be honored and praise for His mercy and kindness to Jennene, as shown in all these outcomes.  Though, regardless of the outcomes, He’s still kind and merciful!  He wins either way!  🙂  And, so does J for worshipping Him and giving Him the glory through all of this!

Thanx for all your prayers/comments …. J & E appreciate it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS JUST IN: CERVIX ULTRASOUND UPDATE 5/28/09

J is now back home after her ultrasound tonight.
The ‘unofficial’ word is that it’s all clear!!!!
Praise the LORD! 🙂
She’ll get the official call in a week, but for now….all’s well!!!

Now, she prepares for her lumpectamy sequel surgery tomorrow!!!
Read here for her thoughts/preparations/prayer requests

Please keep praying for J&E!

thanx so much for keeping up and being a part and for caring about what God is doing in J&E’s life with this cancer (or now, the lack of it!).  🙂

THE EVE OF THE SEQUEL SURGERY THURSDAY (5/28/09)

IN J’S OWN WORDS…
Today I am a 9.5/10.
Still have a numb thumb.  🙂

I MISS MY HAIR
I must admit that I also really want hair again.
I know it’s vain and maybe I’m wasting my baldness, but I miss my hair.  I saw a woman in the parking lot of Kaiser yesterday with long, flowing shampoo-commercial-worthy hair, and I became envious.   That woman’s glory was her hair and she was workin’ it.  I’ve been a little concerned that mine won’t grow back enough for me to go without hats or wigs when school rolls around, so I started to shop the Internet for more cute hats that can be worn alone — Jessie Gates still gets the Oscar for best beanie. I wear that thing so much that it is getting a little stretchy.  Anyway, if any of you out there happen to know of good hat shops or online hat shopping, feel free to share.
Don’t get me wrong, I have lots and lots of beanies, but they are more ski bunny type beanies.
I think what I like about Jessie’s hat is that it looks so vintage and also that it breathes well — still wearable during hot weather (and hot flashes).  So here’s another shout out to Jessie Gates for her mad knitting skills!  🙂  And another shout out to all of the rest of you who also gave me beanies, especially those of you who took extra time to make them yourself (Jan 🙂 ).
Thank you so much for keeping my head warm and comfy!

PRAYER REQUEST FOR TONIGHT (THURSDAY 5/28)
(Maybe you’re reading this and it already happened, but feel free to still pray!)
-So this evening I have an appointment to get an ultrasound of my lower body due to the abnormal cervix biopsy.  I am hoping it is nothing, just an abnormality because of chemo, but I’m naturally a little nervous.  I don’t want anything new cropping up, especially since everything else has been found to be clear.  It’s a little scary, but I’m glad the NP who biopsied me is taking it seriously.  Dr. Hanks really felt that the breast lump had NOT spread at all, but he also seemed to think it had been in my body for many years (how weird is that?), so really, anything is possible.
-So if you think about me around 5:30, please pray for all to go well and that nothing bad is in my lower body.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR TOMORROW (FRIDAY 5/29)
-So tonight I have to stop eating or drinking ANYTHING to prepare for surgery #2 (the sequel).
-They will call me today to give me my surgery time.  I feel okay about this surgery, especially after Dr. Hanks explained how much less would be involved this time around.  Still, it is surgery, so I would appreciate your prayers, as always.  🙂
-I’m thankful again that due to my age the doctors are able to be as aggressive as they want to be to make SURE everything is clear (and in Dr. Hanks’ case, more aggressive than he wants to be!).
-So, in a weird way, there’s a silver lining to getting cancer young.

OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT TOMORROW
-You may want to note that tomorrow is also the birthday of the one responsible for this whole blog, my friend Sam.
Sadly I won’t be able to bring her breakfast in  bed with a pancake shaped like an S, nor bake her a huge cake topped with an Elmo candle, nor take her to Magic Mountain (I never do those things, by the way), but I do hope that she has a wonderful birthday, and I hope that all who read this and know and love her will make her feel loved and special as she is!  Awww, she’s a sparkler.  Tear.  🙂
-Seriously, though, I’m so thankful the Lord brought her to the church I attended long ago — around 1992 I believe (17 years!), and that He caused her and I to prepare a song together for a church service, which started our friendship.  We’ve been through a lot and had ups and downs, but I know for a fact that I would not be who I am today without her in my life — to quote the Bible (and Coach from Survivor), “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  I know I have been made better because of her, and I thank the Lord for how he created community to work in each of our lives.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, and He gives us gifts of relationships that help shape us and build us up.
-As Sam shared the verse yesterday on how we are comforted by the community we have in Christ, I am reminded of how much comfort and service and laughter and good times and adventures I have had in my friendship with Sam.  I was thinking about what makes her unique, and though she has a LOT of great qualities and gifts, one thing about her is that she DOESN’T WASTE HER LIFE.  She makes the most of relationships and opportunities, she seeks what is best, she pursues wisdom and God’s way, and she motivates and inspires others to do better, to expand their horizons, and best of all, to seek the Lord.  I’m thankful to know her.
Happy Birthday, Sammy!

Sam &Jennene old school ('97) Anointed Time album cover

Sam &Jennene old school ('97) Anointed Time album cover

MEDICAL THROWDOWN WEDNESDAY 5/27/09

IN J’S WORDS…

HOW I FEEL:
Overall: 9 out of 10 today
– Still having hot flashes.
-My right shoulder is a little strained, probably from holding my arm differently on that side… it is leading to a little numbness in my thumb, which is all amounting to discomfort, but overall, I am not in pain and feel pretty good.

MEDICAL WAKE UP CALL:
My radiation oncologist, Dr. Hwang, called me this morning around 8:00, so I feigned awakeness (is that a word? spellcheck says no).
She told me that she presented my case to her weekly meeting with other doctors and they all seemed to agree that I should go ahead with further surgery because of my age and mainly because I had chemo first. Something about chemo shrinking the lump but leaving traces of something behind? I don’t know the specific science of it, nor the verbiage. So that made me feel a little better about going ahead with surgery Friday — I love it when it’s not just up to me and my decision, because I can be wrong, of course.
She also told me that none of the doctors were “gung ho” about me getting radiation in my lymph nodes. I will of course have it on my breast, but the lymph nodes were questionable. A few felt it was worth considering, but overall it was not suggested.
Another affirmation of what to do — I was already leaning towards not getting the lymph nodes radiated after hearing the stats that 15-30% get lymphedema due to scar tissue. I like using my right arm a lot, so I feel like I am now much more firm in my decision NOT to do the extra radiation, esp. since all 4 lymph nodes taken were clear of cancer.
It’s a relief to have these controversies seem to come together for me because what the heck do I know?? 🙂

APPOINTMENT WITH DR. HANKS:
My mom went with me, and as usual, Dr. Hanks was his dry, funny, skinny self.
He recapped his conversation with Dr. Hwang a week ago, and he still felt like the surgery this Friday was NOT necessary. He told me that Dr. Hwang basically wouldn’t take no for an answer and was pretty much waiting for Dr. Hanks to just finish talking. Kind of humorous to hear about them disagreeing.
So I told him about my morning phone call and how all Dr. Hwang’s colleagues agreed with her when she presented my case.
Dr. Hanks: “They’re all in cahoots…”
Me: “You’re making this hard for me, Doctor.”
He’s funny.
But he told me that he decided this surgery was really “no big deal” and would take “about 10 minutes” this time — no need for a wire put in, no need for radioactive injection or any of that. He will use the same incision and will use local anesthesia. So it should be much simpler and easier than the last one. I told him that I was okay with this plan.
The overall visit was quite lengthy because Dr. H is a regular Chatty Cathy.
He had lots of studies and statistics and medical lingo to share, which was like listening to a language I’m not totally fluent in but understand about 80% of the words.
It was fun.

GOOD FRIENDS
I love it when I go somewhere and run into a friend!
It seems to happen a lot lately, which seems like a bit of sovereignty 🙂
Mom and I went to Costco and who should I run into but Kim Forbes from work.
Her daughter was in the cart (so cute and fun!) and Kim and I had a great conversation catching up a little. Mostly we talked about Jon & Kate Plus 8 and both commiserated about how sad it was to see a marriage break down. It was kind of refreshing to be able to mourn it together — maybe that’s weird, but sometimes it seems everyone just makes excuses for broken families instead of mourning the loss.

GOOD FRIENDS & SURPRISE GIFTS
Also, in the mail today I received a mysterious package, so tonight before bed I opened it and found the book “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew.
I have been wanting to read that!
The description reads: “Tension builds page by page in this remarkable true document… more thrilling than a spy story with its numerous near escapes and mounting climaxes of danger” -LA Times.
I was confused but found on the receipt that it was from Maria G.
Such a cool gift from such a cool friend! (see pictures of Maria from this past Sunday).

PICS FROM TODAY

GOD’S COMFORT TUESDAY 5/26/09

GOD MAKES GOOD ON HIS PROMISE TO JENNENE TO COMFORT HER

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

IN J’s OWN WORDS
PHYSICALLY= a 9 out of 10 today.
OTHER=Today I was feeling a little down — well, not for long.
The Lord knows what we need, that is for sure. I wish you could be in my head and live my life sometimes because it is almost spooky how He works. 🙂 (spooky in a good way, of course)

GOD USES KRISTIN TO COMFORT
He began to lift my spirits with the kind Tuesday gift fairy, Kristin M (friend from chuch) . She left a beautiful journal on the porch tied with a ribbon and a note that read “Praying for you, Jennene!” I think she has the spiritual gift of creative, classy encouragement (which scripture is that?). I always love whatever she gives (she has great taste), and I am always uplifted by her brief notes reminding me of her consistent prayer for me.

GOD USES AVID BANQUET TO COMFORT
Then I went to the AVID year-end banquet so I could see my former students who are now graduating from high school. Some of these students I had as freshmen and sophomores, and then spent 10 days with them on a college tour when they were juniors, so it was a special group. It was also great to see the current juniors and sophomores, and some of them have been commenting on this blog or on Facebook, which has been really cool. Well, I was a little unsure of how tonight would go because I am not always comfortable making conversation, and I wasn’t sure how they would act towards me.

My plan was to arrive early and then have a chance to greet each student as he or she arrived, thus giving me a chance to have a little bit of “special time” with each one before all the festivities started. It was a good plan — some of them didn’t see me at first (since I have no hair, I look a little different) and once they saw me, they were excited. Some even got emotional, which was a surprise but very cool. I think I was able to at least say hi and ask a little about each of my students at some point during the night, which is what I was hoping to do. A few were so happy to see me that it really warmed my heart.

During the program Alison Henry asked if I wanted to say anything, and so I got the chance to say a little on the mic — basically I said that I was really proud to see these seniors that I had as freshmen, many of whom are going off to 4-year colleges right away, which is so gratifying for me. I was also able to thank those that have followed the blog and kept in touch, and thank all of the students for the glittery birthday/get well cards they made for me back in January. I also told them that I am hoping to return to Valencia in the fall, if I continue to do well with all the treatment. I’m thankful for the opportunity to address them like that — what a blessing. It was also a blessing to have all the conversations with students and parents, sharing with them how well treatment has gone, how my husband has been so serving, and how much support I have had around me.

The AVID president Arika and vice president Lauren presented me with a poster that my former students all signed with kind notes, the following being a few of them:
“You have been an extremely awesome AVID teacher!!~ I know that I have missed being in your class terribly. I hope that you feel better soon. Lots of love”
“Thanks for being patient with me for the two years we had together! They were a blast, I’ll miss you”
“you are an awesome teacher. I miss you soo much. Hope you are getting better.”
“We love you Mrs. Margrave! Thank you SOOOO much for being my teacher/mentor/teacher again! I learned so much that couldn’t be graded by a test. Thank you!”
“I love you so much! You are my favorite teacher of all time! Stay strong”
“It wasn’t the same without you this semester. I hope I am in our class in the fall”

Well, I’m sure you can imagine what these kinds of words mean for a teacher… it’s the best gift we could get. So, THAT was cool.

GOD USES E’S STUDENTS/FRIENDS TO COMFORT
But the good feelings and giving didn’t stop there. As soon as I got home there were two more presents sitting on the bed — a huge red hat from a student at SCCS that Eric doesn’t really even know, Caroline, and a box of cookies and 3 kinds of tea from a sister of a student of Eric’s, with a note that read: “Dear Mrs. Margrave, here’s a little something to make you feel better. I’m praying for you.” SJ

TODAY’S SUMMARY OF GOD’S COMFORT
WOW! So the Lord must have known what I needed — it really fed my soul to see all those students, parents and colleagues and hear that they loved me and missed me. It was also so precious to see people still showing love and care, still praying for me, and even young people who don’t even know me. Wow, God is so good and He really made my day. 🙂

PICS OF HOW GOD COMFORTED TODAY