JENNENE’S ‘THANK YOU & GOODNIGHT’ TO CANCER 9/09

Well, while this particular post is longer than any of the other ones since December 2008, thankfully, this is the post where Jennene concludes her cancer journey and is basically giving her Oscar acceptance speech thank yous.  This is a post of Jennene reflecting, debriefing, changin, growing, and most sincerely, thanking!
So, grab a coffee and a quiet 10 minutes and join J in closing this chapter with Jennene and looking toward the next one… Don’t Waste THIS post, in particular. 🙂

END OF THE JOURNEY – Don’t Waste Your Last Blog Post
This post took me a long while to actually write.
I knew I wanted this one to be thoughtful and reflective of the past year, and I guess I got a little overwhelmed with the task.  Well, I’m not at the end of the overall journey, but I am at the end of this season, the time of this cancer treatment.
I had my FINAL radiation treatment on Monday August 24 and received my certificate of completion and well wishes from my therapists.  Sadly, they were out of T-shirts.  🙂

So Eric and I now move on to the next phase — there isn’t really a “back to normal” because there really have been many life-altering aspects of the past year.  As I spoke to Joan Davidson last Sunday, she confirmed this, that it is life-altering and you never look at things the same.  But, yes, we are moving back into our jobs, church life, and general trying to keep up with laundry and bills and birthdays and life as a non-cancer patient person.  Now I’m a “survivor.”

It is appropriate that Pastor Bob would preach about Psalm 90 recently, where Moses prays that God would teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
This past year, the fact that my days are numbered became a little more real to me.
Eric shared with me recently a story of a woman who lost her 11 year battle with breast cancer.

If that were me, that would make my life a lot shorter than I would have predicted. It could be that I will indeed do very well and not have a recurrence.  I could live a lot longer, especially now that there are so many amazing medical breakthroughs.  However, it could always be shorter.  Who knows but the Lord?  But for now, He has allowed me to be cancer free and feeling very well, very strong. I have been encouraged by several people that taking an aggressive treatment course was a good choice.  I understand that some who lose their battle with cancer may lose because they do not use all the treatments that are available.  Though there are sacrifices that come with doing chemo or taking Tamoxifen, I am thankful to be alive and cancer free right now. I guess if I were to encourage those who are getting diagnosed with cancer, I would tell them that the treatments may be hard, but they are temporal, and they can work.

Eric and I went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants after the final radiation treatment, kind of as a celebration.  We looked back together and wrote our thoughts in crayon on the paper table cover.
We debriefed the things we learned (and are still learning), the things we will miss (surprisingly), and the things we are thankful for.
Additionally, Sam made a great suggestion to put together some “top ten” style lists of things like favorite meals, things you’ll do differently, etc.
So, below I will combine these ideas into a final DWMC list-style debrief.

LESSONS (being) LEARNED
1. Life is precious
2. Everything we enjoy and struggle with is a gift from God, including a disease like cancer
3. There are people all around us who are suffering,
4. We can use our creativity and unique gifts to support those who suffer
5. Being consistently too busy to be balanced was not glorifying to God nor good for me and those around me
6. Practice thankfulness — it prevents many sins, helps us to see God rightly and respond positively in any circumstance
7. God sometimes needs to strip us of comforts to make us aware of our dependence on Him
8. Cancer can be a huge blessing if you let it
9. People around you can show great love and support if you are open to receiving it
10. There is a great camaraderie and empathy among others who know physical suffering
11. Though people are a great support, only the Lord is our perfect shelter
12. This is Eric now – I agree with everything J has said!  I would add that we are learning to stop and think about life more.  In life, especially in our jobs, we seem to deal with a lot of things we have to do and don’t always get to what we should do.  If we stop and think more often, those goals will no longer merely be hopes.
13. Communicating with people seems to be something we both took for granted.  Too often we are paralyzed by the, “I don’t know what to say” mindset.  This experience has taught me that I should not assume people know how I feel.
14. Whining sucks.  I find that I spend a lot less time whining now.  Even traffic and drivers that are not my favorite are not that big of a deal.  Whining communicates a victim mindset and one thing that stands out through this experience is just how blessed we are and how little we deserve anything.  We don’t deserve health (if we did why would we be thankful for it?), we don’t deserve life either which should lead to more and more of #6.
15. God is awesome. The stories of the cancer patients we heard reminded me just how fleeting life is and how it seemed unfair that J had such great treatment while others suffered.  Our lives are in His hands and He bought us with the price of His Son.  He has numbered our days and this serves as a reminder to live for Him because that’s the only way our joy will be full.
16. (back to J)  I learned a lot about honoring my husband (I recommend The Fruit of Her Hands!)
17. I learned a lot about the Bible — parts I had never read, I finally had plenty of time to read and consider.
18. I learned that real joy is available in every situation — it is mostly dependent on a thankful, joyful attitude, and an approach of wanting to love and serve and make others feel comfortable and appreciated.  (I find this hard in practice…)

THINGS WE LIKED AND WILL MISS (HOW CANCER WAS A BLESSING)

1. The felt prayer and felt support — people were so giving and so prayerful.  It was almost like experiencing my own funeral, in a way.  People expressed how much they cared and how much they missed having me in ministry or as their teacher or whatever — I’m not sure I ever would have had that outpouring of love in so tangible a way (without it being a funeral) — there were phone calls, cards, gifts, money, blog comments, Facebook messages, emails, meals, visits, and more, poured out constantly during the treatment time

2. Eric specifically appreciated that there was a break down of pretense and small talk with others — cancer removes some of those walls — he felt that his conversations w/ people were much more real and deep much quicker.

3. I liked not having to shave. 🙂

4. I loved my morning routine of reading the word — I finally caught up to where I should be in my Bible in a Year, and I had time to read, think, write and pray, more than I ever have before.  It has created a good habit of reading in the morning that I have continued fairly well.  I also found some pretty great resources and Christian reading, my favorites being “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence and “Talks for Growing Christians” website.

5. Not worrying about my meals — so many people made such thoughtful, delicious meals, and we always had more leftovers than we could manage!

6. Always having someone to accompany me to treatments or appointments — Sam, Nadine, Brad, my mom, my mother-in-law, Eric — the hospital is a lot more fun with good company

7. The people who came to visit — I had many drop in visitors and also people who made extra effort to come see me, even people from out of town.  It was such a cool thing to spend time with each of them and enjoy them

8. The time to connect and reconnect with many friends and family by way of the blog and Facebook — friends from high school, college, church; family from all over — there were friends I haven’t seen for at least a decade or more who were praying for me, writing me cool notes and sending me gifts!  I also enjoyed growing closer to family members through facebook and email and phone — I had family members making great effort to encourage me and show me love — received many cool gifts and cards and had extensive contact with some of them

9. Time to think about my life, to analyze how I have been living and consider changes to make

10. A true time of rest from all responsibilities of my life — it was very freeing and calming not to use the alarm clock, not to have work each day, to have no homework to grade, to have an extra measure of grace from people around me, to go to second service at church at 10:30 (usually went at 7am for worship rehearsal) — I would sometimes tell people with a laugh that having cancer was easier than my normal life

11. I was thankful to learn more about loved ones — I learned that Eric is truly a great husband (was there ever a doubt?) — he was a servant and was always on the same page as me.  He was a great shot giver and supportive, loving friend.  I learned more about the love of my mothers — they were both so giving and self-sacrificing.  It was neat to grow in my relationships with both of them.

THINGS I WON’T MISS
1. Heartburn
2. Needles, needles, everywhere
3. Baldness and hot or itchy head-wear
4. The nausea (thank God there wasn’t much)
5. The weird bone pain caused by my shots to increase WBC
6. The occasional sleeplessness

TOP MEALS/FOOD
1. Donohoe’s salad – love the goat cheese and cranberries…
2. Valentine’s meal by Jan, Nadine, and Karen — BEST ambience
3. Heidi Keller’s lasagna
4. Stuffed Artichokes by Karen Noa
5. Kate’s fruit dip
6. Rachel Phillips homemade bread and healthy meal
7. Megan’s yummy savory asparagus pie & healthy meal
8. Karen’s gourmet meal w/ balsamic sauce for the watermelon
9. So many more meals that we loved but now don’t remember.  Thank you all so much for your loving preparations!

THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF
Well, I think some of this was above in what I learned in general, but I did learn a few things about myself.

1. How I deal with pain, for one.  I learned that I can push through it, but that it is hard for me to be thankful for it in the midst of pain.

2. I also learned that I am much more dependent on people around me, which can be good and bad.  It’s good in the sense that we all need each other, and in the sense that I really DO appreciate the people around me and all they contribute to my life.  I sometimes think I am alright to be alone most of the time, but really, I need people more than I thought.  But, it is bad when I put more emphasis on getting my needs met by other people rather than looking to God with greater dependence.  People are great, but they are not a replacement for the Lord’s love and help, and God will never fail us.  Additionally, I need to guard against having expectations of people around me — I want to always be thankful for their contribution to my life and not take it for granted.

3. I learned that I can be susceptible to temptations, perhaps slightly harder to deal with due to physical difficulties — I know the Lord holds me accountable to be obedient and to honor and rely on Him in faith even while my body is weak or my hormones are crazy — these are times I should be MORE reliant and more in prayer.

4. I learned a lot about contentment — that even though I had a lot of blessings (no need to go to work, very little need to cook/clean, lots of love and support), I still had struggles with contentment and thankfulness at times.  I can look back, though, and see that God was always good and I could have been content and thankful if I had pursued it more.

5. I was convicted by watching the people who were so generous with their time, money and creativity.  I saw clearly the difference between my response to others’ griefs and difficulties and others’ response to my difficulty.  My deficit is great — I was regularly blown away by how much people would give and intercede for me.  I am very “behind” in this area.  God is kind to convict me in such a gentle way.

6. I learned that I had been taking many blessings in my life for granted.  When I was away from teaching, friends, activity, work, ministry, etc., I realized how much I appreciated all the great gifts God had given me that I was often just going through the motions in.  It was a blessing to be away from it and miss it all.  It made me more thankful for all of it.

7. I learned that there are a lot of people around me that I was not making as much effort toward as I should — people that I care about but didn’t value or proactively pursue, or people that I could make feel more welcome.

THINGS I WILL DO DIFFERENTLY, Lord, help me
Cancer helped me step back from my life and analyze my habits and lifestyle to see what needed to be changed.
Well, as you would expect, there were several major areas of life that I want to be different.

1. I want to establish a habit of thankfulness. I have been more regularly “counting my blessings” lately and hope to continue that habit.

2. I want to live life with more balance –– I used to have work and my “urgent list” as the things that filled most of my time.  Everything else came second.  I thought I could “do it all” but really, many things slipped through the cracks, and I often felt inefficient, overextended, stressed, and tired.  I still deal with this temptation, but I am now much more aware of needing balance and much more motivated to work toward it.  I am striving to work smarter rather than longer, to have time to do other activities, to enjoy life more along the way, to be more aware of being more people focused, and to not feel like I have to have my nose to the grindstone.

3. Related to #2, I will be striving to make work life easier while still trying to be effective — more planning ahead, more non-graded learning activities, more delegation, more having fun in my job.

4. I will also strive to keep in touch with people — especially through Facebook and email, and also having people over.

5. I want to live more healthfully

6. I also want to be more aware of the brevity of life — I want to be more thankful for everything, more purposeful, more in the Word, and more aware that everything is SO TEMPORAL.
Things that I thought would last for a long time really do have an end, and that end is sooner than I think. Enjoy it!  Appreciate it!  Make the most of it and don’t waste it!  “Teach us to number our days…”

TOP ENCOURAGING THINGS (in random order)
1. Faithful Tuesday gifts from Kristin M — always creative, beautiful, thoughtful.  She’s my hero.
2. The great effort (again) of Jan, Karen, and Nadine to make our Valentine’s Day so romantic and special.  It was the best V-day I’ve ever had, really.
3. The huge gifts from SCCS, VHS, and a few amazingly generous gift givers through the blog.  Wow.
4. Sam’s huge sacrifice to be around as often as she possibly could, to take zillions of photos to get the best ones (especially of the teddy bear), to upload and format a blog post every single day so people wouldn’t have to trouble me or Eric for news, to organize all of my meals and accompaniments to treatments, to set up a Facebook group, Blog, Paypal account, and even Don’t Waste Jennene’s Cancer business cards, among many other offerings of service too many of which to mention.  Triple wow.
5. Huge pile of Lemonheads from Siona, with a great mix CD and serenading at our front door from our Bible study guys.
6. Kind gift cards from lots of people — Summer, Betty, Katie and Kristy,
7. Gifted movies from Christina that I really enjoyed, and lended movies from Melyndee, Esther and Amanda
8. Fuzzy blankets and other comfy cozy stuff from Laura, Nancy and Kelly, and some from SCCS students
9. Made-with-love beanies and scarves from Jan, Carol, Jessie
10. Bought with love beanies from Sam, Susan and Ned, and T-shirts from Mark
11. Lots of head-wear and much love and cheerleading from Joanie
12. My go-to wig whenever I wanted to blend in, from Mary
13. My regular meal peeps — Nadine and Marybeth, who were ready to provide at least once a week with deliciousness
14. The great books people provided for my encouragement — George Muller, Hinds Feet in High Places, God’s Smuggler, Stepping Heavenward, Dead Man Walking, I Flunked my Mammogram, A Woman’s Decision, A Year In Provence, and The Shack.  🙂  Thanks Nadine, Maria, Heidi, Kerry, Kathy, Dee, Karen, and Kristen!
15. All the people who were so willing to bring healthy, delicious meals!

16. The great encouragement on Facebook and the blog when I was having a hard treatment, and  when I was getting surgery.  I also had a huge surge of love on my birthday, especially from my AVID students at VHS.
17. Amazing service of Krystal to clean my house EVERY chemo (I loved coming home to a clean house!  I brightened my day even while I was feeling pretty nauseous!), and the SCCS service team who came out and painted our fence and cleaned our house too.  What a blessing!
18. Some great long talks on the phone w/ Kristen, Renee and others.  Some great hang out times with Sam, Marybeth, Brad and Nadine, Sarah Jane, Holly, Adam and Megan, Melyndee and Amy, Joanie and Amy, Sue P, Alison H, Dave H, Jeff and Heather, Sarah and Chris, my mom, Mary, Kathy A, Siona, Phil, Mark & Thomas, Sue and Kara, Diane and Ned, Don and Sierra, Steve & Debra and the boys, Monica and Frank, and many, many others.  Some very special cards and letters and messages from Pammie, Arika, Kristy, Pastor Bob, and so many more of you.

19. Our amazing gifted Arrowhead “weekend” getaway from Roger & Michele (so relaxing and cool!)

WRAP UP
Well, I have tried very hard to include as many of you as I could, to let you know how greatly you impacted us and made us feel loved and lifted up in prayer.  It was always exciting to see how God would use all of you, to see what you would come up with to support us creatively, to see who would come to visit, to see what you would send us in the mail — almost every day there was a new surprise and a new way we felt loved.   I am thankful for this season of cancer and I thank you all for being a big part of it.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you.  I hope you know what a huge blessing you all were.  We will never be able to repay your kindness, but we know that you would never expect that.  I hope that Eric and I can take the unconditional love and giving from you and pay it forward to others — you have inspired us and we have been moved and convicted.  Thank you.

The Lord has been so good to us through cancer.
We have learned more about Him and know more than ever that He can be trusted for everything in life.  He has used cancer to show us His love, to humble us, to make us more dependent, to make us more prayerful, to draw us closer together and closer to Him.
I wouldn’t change it.
I know I didn’t always live up to my blog name, “don’t waste my cancer,” but I know the Lord didn’t waste it and you didn’t waste it.  I know that every part of it was worth it.  I pray God will continue the lessons and help us to be faithful to what we learned and received.
I know He was glorified and I pray He will be more greatly glorified as a result of it all.
Amen.

Grace and Peace to you all!

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STUDENTS, GOD, HUSBAND, THE WHOLE BIBLE 8/15/09

HEALTH UPDATE
I’m feeling well and almost done with radiation.
I have just one more week, and I am now doing the “boost” part of my treatment — they are narrowing the focus of the radiation to just the site of the mass (the past 5 weeks they radiated my whole right breast).
I have been experiencing a few side effects, but they are almost nothing compared to chemotherapy.  I have a slight “sunburn” on the area they have radiated, and I have been a little more tired — the last few treatments I have taken a nap in the car on the way home.  The only other side effects I’m feeling are the hot flashes that are common with tomoxifen.
Hard to believe there are just 6 more days of treatment!
Once that’s done, I continue the tomoxifen for 5 years and have checkups every so often.
It’ll be nice to be an “official” survivor!  🙂

BACK TO WORK
I went back to work this past week — part of why it has taken me so long to finally write this update!
There were meetings and work days, and then finally on Thursday the students showed up.  I was a little anxious because I’ve been out of teaching for 8 months.  I wasn’t sure if I had forgotten how to manage the classroom, I was nervous about having students who are discipline problems, I wasn’t sure if I’d have the energy to do a whole day.  Well, the Lord is gracious.  He helped me to be confident and passionate, and so far the students seem willing and positive.  I was tired the first day (I never seem to sleep well the night before the first day back), but I slept very well the second night and felt pretty energetic the following day.  I have been working until 3 and then leaving at 4 to go to radiation which is at 5.
It makes for a long day… but it’s almost over!!

The first day I told the students a little about myself, and included the cancer journey.
One of the classes even clapped a little for me.  Ha!  It was cool to see them respond that way to cancer survival.  It was a reminder of how seriously everyone takes the disease.  I guess I sometimes forget about how other people perceive cancer.
I also saw this in the responses of my colleagues to my return.  I was received with such warmth and encouragement — it was overwhelming yet again.  So often I think we forget to verbalize how we care for and appreciate the people around us.  Well, this was an opportunity for me to hear how people felt about me at work… so touching and humbling.  There were several people who expressed how glad they were that I was back.  Made me feel loved!  God is good. |
Additionally, I received several notes and texts from friends on the first day, wishing me a good day, telling me they were praying for me, asking me how it went.  People are kind.
I’m thankful to have people in my life who have reached out and who have lifted me up in prayer.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
Eric and I have enjoyed spending time together — I’m grateful that he has wanted to continue driving me to radiation each day.
This past few weeks we listened to “Joy at Work” on CD.  It was very inspirational as he and I were preparing to start back at work.
We also took advantage of having to be in LA each day by going out to dinner a few times, going to a few movies, visiting some friends in Hollywood, driving around exploring, and doing a little shopping.
Aside from going down to treatments, we have also had a chance to spend some time with family.  We’ve spent some time with my dad, Eric’s sisters, and Eric’s brother’s family.  When Eric’s nephew saw me with my new hairdo, he said, “You look like Uncle Eric.”  HA HA!!  Funny and quotable.  🙂
I’ve also had a chance to hang out with some friends here and there — enjoyed Holly W’s birthday over Indian food, dinner with Melyndee B, school planning time and conversation with Megan P, lunch with Sarah and Chris B, lunch with Alison H and Maura B, time at church with the worship team, and lots of just fun, casual conversation in the kitchen with Sarah Jane (and Jake). 🙂
I’ve also enjoyed connecting over the phone, email and Facebook with some of my good friends and family — you know who you are!  🙂  Yes, I guess I’ve been pretty busy!

THINGS I’M LEARNING/THINKING ABOUT/READING
-I’ve now officially read through the whole Bible!  I’m stoked!  But I still have more to go to get through my whole Bible-in-a-year — parts I have read before, but it’s been a while!  So I recently finished Job and am now in Ecclesiastes.  They are great books.  Through Job I thought a lot about a man’s perception of God, and God’s right to do anything He pleases.  Job questions God because he feels like his afflictions are unfair.  Looking back at the cancer journey, I am glad I mostly had the perspective that God was just and good, despite cancer.  Although I must confess, there are other times when I am more like Job, feeling self-pity or lacking thankfulness to God for the things He allows in my life.  Truly, everything in the life of a believer is a gift from God.  Some of His gifts don’t seem so good at the time, but they are good because they all have a purpose and all work out for good.  I have been thinking about thankfulness and God’s gifts quite a bit.  I want to receive all of God’s gifts with thankfulness and faith.  I have already tasted and seen that God is good and can be fully trusted, so I want to keep that in mind and respond in worship and humble gratefulness.

-I have also been reading Ecclesiastes, which has been a reminder of that which is worthwhile and that which is futile.  The “teacher” who writes the book speaks about a man’s lot in life — he explores the difficulties and hurts of life, but he also concedes that there is satisfaction in the simple pleasures of life — food, drink, work.  Reading this book makes me feel small and makes my life’s labor seem less significant.
I’m thankful the Lord gives purpose and meaning to our labor, and that every part of my life can be a sacred offering if I have an attitude of worship.

-I had the chance again today to converse with my father about the gospel.  Though I mostly feel like it is a pointless pursuit (in that he seems completely uninterested in the gospel — but I know the Lord can change his heart because nothing is impossible with God), it has been humbling for me to meditate on the wonder of the mercy of God.  My dad is still holding on to a works mentality, that he can pay for his own sins or be good enough for God’s favor in his own strength.   Though it makes me very sad to see him reject Christ, it makes me so grateful that God has made a way for me to have a relationship with Him through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  I am so, so glad God will receive me on Christ’s merits, because I cannot stand before Him on my own merits.  It’s the greatest message there is. I quoted a lot of scripture to my dad today — if you would like, please pray for my dad’s conscience to be stirred by the truth of the gospel.

PRAYER REQUESTS
-Besides salvation for my dad…
-Physically and mentally I covet your prayers for me this coming week as I will be working and going to radiation for 5 days in a row.
-Please pray for wisdom for me as well as I am establishing authority and rapport in the classroom — I want to do excellently with teaching as a good and faithful servant of the Master, and I want to be a godly example to my students for the sake of the gospel.
-Spiritually, please pray for me to be humble and to rely on the Lord, and that I would be thankful for all of God’s gifts in my life!

THANKS for reading and praying!
I’m so thankful for you!

PICS

HOME ON THE RANGE FRIDAY 6/19/09

SUMMARY
Events: we enjoyed a few more days in Georgia with family and sightseeing, and returned in time for Eric’s sister’s graduation
Overall I’m 9.7/10

HEALTH UPDATE
I’m feeling pretty normal, but am still a little amazed at the little ways I am still affected by chemo and surgery. Nothing too alarming or difficult to deal with, but little things, like numbness in my toes or little shooting, itchy, shocking nerve jolts in my feet or legs.
I was feeling some occasional swelling in my hands and feet (but that is starting to wane), and still there is the occasional hot flash or weird sleeping pattern. It’s amazing to me because it has been quite a while since my last chemo, but still the effects are there — powerful stuff.
But I can tell things are moving more and more towards normal.
My right arm is getting stronger but I still feel a little weaker than usual. I will need to heal a little bit more before radiation, but that will start soon.
I will be seeing my oncologist Dr. Shin in early July to check up on radiation and to start hormone therapy.
I will have 6 weeks, 5 days a week of radiation.
From what I’ve been told, I will probably be okay at first, but near the end have some sunburn-like effects on my skin and will be pretty tired. I am hoping to be as active as I can (but not more than is wise), because I have noticed that I am still pretty physically weak from the winter of sitting on the couch.
Move it or lose it, as they say!

E & J’s HIGHLIGHTS FROM GEORGIA
–Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site was a highlight. We saw Ebenezer Baptist Church, MLK’s tomb, and went through the museum. He was a world changer, and we were inspired that world change occurs through individuals
— also, we were encouraged by the excerpts of his speeches and such, especially the parts that showed his love for God.
–Mary said that E has mellowed a lot, in a good way. Perhaps a result of our ordeal? I’m so thankful for him — he is such a great support to me!
–For E, he enjoyed spending alone time together, especially driving to North Carolina — we had a fun time in the car.
–E also really liked touching the Atlantic Ocean, and he finally beat Larry in tennis (but to be fair, Larry had spent the whole day out in 98 degree heat & humidity, gardening).
–We also had a great time at the Zimmermans — had dinner at Aunt Nancy’s with cousin Kelly and Joe, and Mary and Larry came over, and aunt Kathy showed up also! It was nice to reconnect with the cousins, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

THE LAST MARGRAVE GRADUATES
Well, technically there are 3 more Margraves left to graduate, but they are the next generation.
Of Ned’s children, Kara was the last to walk to “Pomp and Circumstance.” She was excited to have us there, and seemed very happy to play several of her original songs for us in the hour before she had to leave for grad night. Some of our thoughts and highlights: –we’re happy for her, hopeful for her –we admire her talent and desire for the guitar –we had a nice time of talking with Susan back at the house, along with Diane, her sister, and Ned –E is happy for his dad and that the girls both made it through school! 🙂

PICS FROM THE REST OF THE TRIP & GRADUATION 🙂

ODE TO ‘TEAM DON’T WASTE JENNENE’S CANCER” WEDNESDAY 5/6/09

IN J’S WORDS….

SYMPTOMS UPDATE
My mouth sores are half cured — one is almost totally gone and one is still there.  I’m thankful for partial healing!  Though now I have a sore ankle.
Maybe from lots of long days of standing (I stood a long time yesterday).
It’s a reminder of how out of shape I am and how unused to being “in recovery” I am.
I’m sleeping well, so lots to be thankful for.

GENERAL DAILY ACTIVITIES
-Today I was able to meet at Stonefire for lunch with my mom Mary’s friend, Marcia — more about that in the next paragraph.
-Then I shopped at Trader Joe’s, cleaned the kitchen, talked to my dad, read, spent time on the computer, made and ate dinner with Eric, cleaned up, and did some research.
-I also enjoyed a brief visit with Joan and Amy Davidson, who came to see the new Brock baby, and later a brief visit with Nadine and Jake.  🙂   It was fun.
-Finished the night with Eric watching “The Biggest loser.”

LUNCH CONVERSATION-REFLECTIONS OF TEAM ‘DON’T WASTE JENNENE’S CANCER’ (TDWJC)!
Marcia was kind enough to treat me to lunch.
She and I split a southwestern salad, which I’ve never tried but really enjoyed!
She’s sweet.
We met because her daughter was recently diagnosed with cancer as well, so Marcia wanted to pick my brain about the ways she could support her daughter.
I told her about how supported I have been by Sam, and also by moms, Eric, other family and friends, and especially the body of Christ coming around me with meals, cleaning, donations, words of encouragement, gifts and prayer!  I thank you all for every single gesture of care towards me because each one built me up and helped me come through the difficult times.  🙂
I enjoyed “bragging” about all of you, and I’m hoping Marcia and her daughter can have the same kind of unbelievable support I had!
Thank you all!

Overall, J is at a 9.2 out of 10 (10 is the best!)

VARIOUS PICS

THE LORD’S BOUNTY THURSDAY 4/30/09

IN J’S WORDS…

Today I am a 9  out of 10.
I didn’t sleep well for the first time in a long while (praise the Lord I usually sleep well, which has been so nice for the last several weeks) but last night I think I was affected by the nap I took.  And, I kept getting hot and then cold and then hot again.  Also, I woke up with a little sore throat, so I need to take care of myself a little and see if that goes away.

We still have plenty of food around because even though we no longer need food, people have still brought things — Esther and Rick Denis and Siona and his guys, Thomas, Shon and Mark brought dessert, snacks and such, so there’s plenty to eat, and Eric is getting quite a variety in his lunch.  🙂  This evening was no exception to the overflowing bounty of goodness from the Lord and His people — Nadine brought over food from La Rhumba, and then our friends Sierra and Don popped by on their way to San Diego and brought food also.  We enjoyed a fun dinner with them, and our friend Phil Anderson also came over to hang out and joined us for dinner as well.  As Don and Sierra were leaving, Holly came home, so she joined Phil and us for hang out time, which was fun.  I also talked with Mary Chestnut on the phone — she has some family and friends going through a lot of struggles, so feel free to pray for them.

Today I read and prayed, and had an awesome time with the Lord.  I was reading about the brave and loyal mighty men who served David, ultimately a picture of our spiritual service for and worship of the Lord.  I also read about Paul’s shipwreck and journey to Rome — he always wanted to go there, but probably didn’t expect to go there as a prisoner who had been shipwrecked and bitten by a snake.  God’s plans are not ours, but He worked mightily through Paul anyway, probably more powerfully than if things had gone the way Paul had planned.  Made me think of how I never planned to have cancer, but God is still in control and has plans that are better than mine.  I’m praying for more trust in the Lord so that I can relax about how my life is going and enjoy the ride a little more.  🙂

This also reminds me of a cool conversation Sam and I were having while leaving Kaiser yesterday.  We had so much more fun with the doctor and nurses than usual (Sam especially, as she was making jokes and drawing out the fun sides of the doc and nurses, as she is sometimes wont to do). We were noting how much fun life can be when we are open and willing for it to be.  We were thinking about how the Lord really wants us to have joy and delight in Him in everything, and that even a cancer pre-operation appointment can be that way when we let it be.  It seems that trusting God as sovereign and letting go of worry is the key for me.  It also helps to be around a person like Sam who exercises her gift of engaging with people.  It was a cool lesson, and one of many from this season of cancer.

PICS

FARTING AROUND FRIDAY 4/17/09

Early morning readers (jan 🙂 ):
my apologies that this post didn’t make it up last night.
I fell into bed at 9:17pm last night (about 5 hours earlier than usual) and with no remembrance of the blog or ANY other responsibility in my life, fell fast asleep.  Though, maybe my punishment came in the form of the weird dream I had about stealing someone’s car to join a class field trip, only to, unknowingly become good friends with the car owner… I felt like I was lying to her the whole time.  I kept debating when to confess my sin and plead for forgiveness…alas, my alarm interupted the reconciliation desire.  🙂
ANYway… all that to say, sorry this post is a few hours late.
on to Jennene …

BOTTOMLINE
-J had some very uncomfortable stomach issues until mid afternoon.  She is not stoked about eating, but knows that it helps.  She suspects the lining in her stomach is just shot from the chemo and is too thin to really do its’ job these days
-Our friends, Jeff & Heather & kids, left around 11am (J was so so so so encouraged by them and has been thinking about God’s goodness through faithful friend who have endured in their faith and trials and grown closer to God!)
-E had a minimum day, so he came home early and hung out with J!!!…. and a huuuge blessing for next week…. (see below)
-In general, J laid on the couch (sitting up was pretty uncomfortable) and watched some shows and just hung out with E
-E&J&I hung out for a bit at night … caught up on life events and discussed how we want to watch ‘Boy In The Striped Pajamas’ (any reviews from you readers?)
-Overall, J is a 6.5 out of 10 (10 is the best)

HUGE BLESSING

-next week is standardized testing at E’s school.  his administration has told him that he can stay home all week to serve his wife!  E&J are both so happy and humbled by the kindness and sensitivity of Santa Clarita Christian School (E’s employer).  Thank you so much!

PICS FROM TODAY

CHEMO BE GONE MONDAY 4/13/09

BOTTOMLINE
-Day started out pretty good.
-Gail took J to oncology, J got her warrior poisons and was feeling pretty good around noon, they made their way back home around 3:45 and J promptly threw up in the car 😦
-J went to sleep after arriving home … and that’s the last activity of J’s that I heard about… 🙂
-E said that she’ll go back to Dr. Shin in 3 weeks and he will schedule the surgery at that time
-More news tomorrow…
-Thank you to all who have been praying and caring and writing and smiling and encouraging and journeying with J&E

J off to her 6th and FINAL chemo treatment!  Woo Hoo!!!

J off to her 6th and FINAL chemo treatment! Woo Hoo!!!