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!

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JENNENE’S 1st DAY OF SCHOOL-THURSDAY 8/13/09

(this is a note that went out to everyone in the FaceBook Group, ‘Don’t Waste Jennene’s Cancer’)

Hey Team DWJC!
Hope your summers are wrapping up nicely and that you accomplished great things!

Jennene’s summer has ended and, as I type this, she is back in the classroom, cancer free, giving her first lecture to her high school students!  Amazing!

Amazing to watch her journey come ALMOST full circle…
-December 2008 was diagnosed with breast cancer
-December 2008 started chemotherapy
-May 2009-Lumpectamy 1 & 2
-July 2009 Started Radiation
-August 2009 Started teaching again and a few more radiation treatments left!

An amazing testimony of God’s care and mercy!

PRAY & COMMENT
-Please pray for her today as she has a full work day (in a draining job) and that she can finish up her radiation with strength and grace.  Still not wasting a moment of it!!!
-Also, feel free to comment to her… the encouragement has been so important and powerful this last 8 months!!!!

Thank you again for your continued love, support, prayers, gifts, sacrifices, kindnesses, notes, etc!!!!!!

grace & peace
-DWJC staff

HORMONES, RADIATION, PONDERINGS, KARAOKE 7/4/09

CANCER UPDATE
So what’s new with cancer this week?
Well, I went to see Dr. Shin and he seemed pleased with how my surgical site is healing and prescribed my hormone therapy medication. So I will take 2 pills a day for 5 years — they will block the effects of estrogen, which can cause breast cancer. I read the prescription info and it’s kind of crazy what the possible side effects of cancer treatments are. Most commonly this medicine causes hot flashes (nothing new here), but can also lead to blood clots, which can lead to strokes. That’s pretty rare though. It can also cause other kinds of cancer, but the risk is low for that also. Just weird to do things to your body that are so hard core! But up to this point I have done well and I’m thankful for those very treatments that have made cancer go away. I just need to be aware of how my body is doing — Dr. Shin said to be careful on long plane trips to get up and move around. 🙂 Will do, Dr. Shin.

Dr. Shin also asked if this blog was still up and running, and wished a hello to mom and Eric. He’s sweet.

While getting my blood pressure taken in the nurse’s station (by the mother of a former student of mine) Dr. Hwang came through for a chance meeting. We talked about my radiation dates, and she said she would try to move things along faster — she’s hoping to get me in for tatooing on Saturday July 11 (my first tatoo! ha ha), and then start radiation on Monday or Tuesday following, July 13 or 14.

SOME COOL ACTIVITIES I’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN LATELY
– Attended a church friend’s beautiful wedding (Aimee B)
– Had a great time at Aimee’s reception with friends from church and from Eric’s school. Each table had to choose a song to sing to be dismissed for food, but it had to have the word “LOVE” in it — our song? A “Billie Jean”-“All You Need is Love”-“Can You Feel the Love Tonight”- and “Barney” medley. We were overachievers. 🙂
– Dinner on the deck, hang-out and Bollywood time with Adam & Megan Powell
– Reading the Bible, Ezra, I Corinthians, Psalms and Proverbs
– Reading a very interesting, practical book about a woman’s role in marriage: The Fruit of Her Hands. Getting a lot out of it!
– Hang out time with Sarah Jane Brock and some of the Thursday night dinner folks
– Enjoying the roominess of our new bathroom tub — Thanks Doug Trim and Jim Cantisano!
– Saw some cool movies: Defiance, Departures (these were excellent), and The Proposal, Bride Wars (I enjoyed them but I’d say they are rentals)
– Sweatin’ to the oldies as our A/C unit struggles along
– Having Claim Jumper lunch on Roger with Michelle, Holly and Eric after the weigh-in
– Getting my step dad to consider using daily plate (Livestrong) and to count his calories
– Cleaning my room!

SOME THOUGHTS I’VE BEEN THINKING LATELY
– I remember when I used to take my hair for granted, my mascara for granted, looking normal for granted… 🙂
– Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
– God’s wisdom seems foolish to the world, and the world’s wisdom IS foolish to God
– We do not need to be strong to glorify God; His glory is even made perfect in our weakness!
– I want to strive to see people as God sees them — through the saving, cleansing blood of Christ
– We are all just servants, each assigned to our own tasks (neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow)
– Am I making ETERNAL investments? with money, with time, with resources, with people…
– God changes the hearts and attitudes of kings when he wants to
– Joy comes from: separating from worldly and unclean pursuits to seek God, being cleansed, taking the slaughtered sacrifice that was offered to God for our sins and eating it, and then celebrating with joy, together as a community.
– Eric has inspired me to get back in shape for reals. (when I’m healthy again)
– I remember when I used to take A/C for granted… ha ha

OVERALL RATING TODAY
-Feeling: 9.8/10

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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 🙂

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!).  🙂