RADIATION-DAY 1-7/13/09

Hey Team DWJC!!!

J is is the homestretch now!
-she finished chemo with flying colors!!
-she finished her TWO lumpectamies with relative ease!!!
-and now she embarks on radiation…
Today was day 1 of her 6 week radiation series.

I’m sure she’ll fill you in on the details later.

This is just a heads up to continue praying/commenting/caring!

Thanx for being so faithful in keeping up!!!

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MOVIES, MARATHONS, MODELING (RE-) 7/12/09

Hello friends!

Thank you all for praying for me (and Eric) about preparing for school in the fall — I have only 4 weeks left of summer!  Ah, where does the time go…

MEDICAL UPDATE
On Saturday I had my radiation xrays and tattoos done.
They are just 4 small pinprick-size tattoos, and it hurt a little but wasn’t too bad.  There were lots of red lasers on me, I guess to help them align me each time.  The room I was in was pretty cool — it reminded me of a spa because the ceiling was natural wood, the lights were low, there were back-lit nature images to look at, and they were playing “relaxing” classical music the whole time.  Kind of cool, but kind of funny!
It wasn’t as comfy as it sounds, simply because I had to lay still with my head slightly turned and my arms up over my head and no adjusting my position for about 45 solid minutes.
Fortunately, radiation therapy sessions are only 12 minutes each time, so that won’t be as difficult a time to stay still.

RECENT ACTIVITIES
-We’ve seen lots of movies lately, and pretty interesting ones.
We’ve seen Departures, a Japanese movie about ceremonies for the deceased;
Il Postino, about poetry, romance and communist ideas;
Baghban, a Bollywood film about respect for elders and authority and the lack of it;
The Station Agent, about the human need for community;
The Killing Fields, about a friendship during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia; and
Away We Go (can’t recommend wholly — it was good, but if you go, miss the first 5 minutes), a movie about the search for home and for what is the best way to live and parent — there was definitely a lack of clear hope and clear destination for the main characters, which reminds me of the shortcomings of this world’s system.
Eric and I (and friends) had many good conversations about these films, which is what I love about good art — when it inspires thought and dialogue.

-We also have enjoyed dessert with Esther & Rick Dennis and dinner with Meg and Adam Powell — cool times of fellowship and delicious food!

-Eric has been running a lot; he ran a half marathon on Saturday and has been incrementally working up to it.  Obviously he is tired today, but he is doing really well with all the physical activity.  He has inspired me greatly to work back to fitness myself.  I may start walking with Sarah Jane regularly.
Who knows, maybe in a year I’ll be running alongside Eric in these distance runs.  🙂

GOINGS ON AT HOME
Our AC is working a bit better — there’s some water damage that we might have fixed and some other minor construction that might be going on at our house.  Fortunately, I don’t mind that kind of thing.  I rather like seeing improvements happen to my living spaces — it excites me. 🙂

RECENT READINGS & PONDERINGS
-Ezra & Nehemiah: God makes a way for his servants to accomplish His will.  It won’t be perfectly smooth and there will often be opposition, but God’s hand and blessing will be with His servants
-I Cor. on marriage — a husband and wife belong to each other; unbelieving spouses can be saved through the behavior/testimony of their spouses
-Psalms on getting help and mercy from God; and assorted Proverbs
-Church – the importance and testimony when believers submit to the authority of their employers — working hard, being trustworthy, showing respect, not stealing, submitting, not complaining or arguing; these things make the doctrine of God attractive!  So true.  It was good to have a message on this as I am about to prepare my teaching units for the fall — it is a good reminder to work excellently for the Lord and to consider my work and attitude as a testimony to all around me.

Thanks again for your prayers and encouragement!  🙂
I’m a 9.9/10!!

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TATTOOS, TEETH, SUNBURNS, LESSON PLANS 7/8/09

RADIATION JUNCTION
I have some news today about radiation.
At today’s CT scan and planning meeting, I learned that radiation would start Monday 7/13/09, for sure, and I learned how things will go.
I will have 5 weeks of broader radiation, and then one week of narrowed radiation to finish it off.
The side effects I will probably experience are sunburn-like: redness and maybe blistering.

Fatigue will also result, but that’s about it. Thus, I am supposed to keep the area clean and not irritate it with any sun or products (except 100% aloe vera gel). This Saturday I will receive my tattoos. They are really only as big as a dot on an “i”, so no worries. These “tats” will help them position me each time for radiation.
When they did the scan today, that was to be my final position for each treatment, so I needed to make sure I felt comfortable. They needed to jimmy-rig something for my feet because I was apparently too tall for the machine. So there was a lot to take in today, but the therapist gave me all the info in writing.

I’m thankful they were able to work around my requests for scheduling — I’ll go in at 11am-ish during vacation time, and when school starts, I’ll have 2 weeks of going in at 5pm.
Ironically, it is toward the end when fatigue usually happens, which is when I will be starting back to school.
I’ll need to work up my stamina by taking more walks… 🙂

CHEMO TEETH
Other news, I had been concerned as to how my teeth were doing after chemo — I was sure that they were in poor shape. Well, I had a dentist appointment Tuesday and am relieved… one tiny cavity and one larger one below a filling, both already filled and feeling fine. 🙂
It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about.

VACATION MORPHING INTO SCHOOL PREP=PRAYER REQUEST
Besides the medical issues, the vacation time has been nice.
I have been reading, watching movies w/ Eric, doing some minor organizing, and hanging out with a few people. It has been relaxing and low key. I will need to finish a few more organization tasks this week, and then I will have to start making a serious effort towards school planning.
If you get a chance, please pray for me (and Eric) to get a lot done so we’re ready for school to start. 🙂
Thanks!

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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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6 YEARS, 1 DUCK, 1 RABBIT MONDAY 6/29/09

Hello friends!
I am enjoying the freedom of summer these days.
My summer will seem shorter than usual due to radiation being on every weekday (probably starting in mid-July. I’ll know more info at my planning appointment on July 8).

Eric and I greatly enjoyed all our traveling and visitors, but it is so nice now to be able to slow down and relax for a little while. He and I really enjoy each other’s company, and we have officially been enjoying each other’s company in marriage for 6 years. I often wondered if he would find me less attractive while bald or if he would be irritated by my need for more service on his part, but any worries I had were unnecessary.
Eric was the dream husband during this ordeal — so supportive and easy to be with.

So for our anniversary last night he wanted to do something just the two of us, and something special.
So he made reservations at Le Chene, a local French restaurant.
On the way there we were graced with a beautiful sunset and a short backroads drive.
When we got there, we wanted to choose unique things from the menu that we wouldn’t normally be able to get at other restaurants, so I ordered rabbit and he ordered duck. Delicious! Yes, they kinda both tasted like chicken… ha ha.
We liked the ambiance and the chance to have a romantic dinner together.
We also lived dangerously and took in a late movie.
It was a great celebration of 6 great years being married to my favorite man. Even this morning he said something to me that almost brought tears to my eyes — something like “life is so much better with you.” The Lord has truly blessed me.   I read recently a blog where a woman has been listing and numbering the gifts from God in her life (A cool idea — seems the list would be very long!), and that moment w/ Eric was one that would go in the list, for sure. 🙂

Overall, 9.8 out of 10 (10 is the best)

PICS FROM MONDAY & TUESDAY (6/29 & 30)

JOURNAL STYLE UPDATE THURSDAY 6/25/09

IN J’s OWN WORDS…
JENNENE’S RECENT PONDERINGS

Hello friends.  Thank you for reading.
It feels a little strange writing this blog while on the tail end of cancer treatment.
Actually, it felt strange during treatment also — at that time I was surprised at how many people read and commented.  Well, now that I’m feeling so well and concern for my well being is not as necessary, now it feels like there aren’t as many people — by the way, if you are reading, thank you for your continued concern.
I guess that’s one strange thing that I have experienced with all of this.  There was extra attention or “specialness” attached to my situation when I was diagnosed.  But one thing I’ve seen very strongly while going through this is that there are always people in pain and struggle all around me.  I was never really unique, except that I finally got to share in a tiny part of the suffering of the masses.  Even the times of suffering, though, seemed very minimal, easy and doable.
I look at others’ experiences and realize that I had it easy.

It was a strange transition for me to be pulled out of my comfort zone and for my life to be more public.
Now I think that it is another transition to fade back again into oblivion.
We made jokes at the beginning about how I had “carte blanche” in what I said and did because I was the cancer patient.  Well, that may be a little bit of a stretch, but it does make me wonder what it will be like in this transition back to “normal.”
Will I get less benefit of the doubt, fewer cards in the mail, less prayer from church members, less physical help?  What expectations do people have on me now and will it increase or decrease?  Will people still want to read about my life?  And what about me?  Will I miss the attention?  Will I resent being “normal” and wish to be more “special” — perhaps I have let myself become spoiled by all these kind, caring friends and the extreme ways they have served and supported us?
I certainly don’t want to be selfish, so I hope the loving attentions I received in my time of need will naturally move on to those who need them now.  I hope I will become a part of the group who offers these loving attentions asking for nothing in return.

TRANSITION TO THOUGHTFUL PEOPLE
Speaking of loving attention, Kristin M is truly a kind, thoughtful person.
My foyer is now graced with roses from her regular Tuesday gift. 🙂

Also, E and I really appreciated the time in Lake Arrowhead, thanks to Roger and Michele H so generously providing us a stay at the resort.  It was a beautiful, peaceful setting that was perfect for a getaway.
E and I took the opportunity to review the year and our marriage, and to make goals for the next year of marriage.  From our cool times of debrief, I can see that God has been knitting us together more and more, which is such a blessing.
However, what I also saw was that there is always room for improvement in any relationship.
Well, there is in ours —  mainly that I am still finding ways that my selfishness creeps in.  As an example, one goal of mine this year is to take a greater interest in E’s interests (Biblical — “look to the interests of others” and “consider others as more important than yourself”).  So taking a greater interest in sports is one of my goals this year.  🙂   Yes, watching sports is now Biblical — ha ha.

CURRENT PHYSICAL RATING
Overall I am a  9.7 out of 10 (10 is the best)

PICS FROM THE LAST WEEK

THE LEGACY OF FATHERHOOD SUNDAY 6/21/09

SUMMARY
Spent time with family this weekend, went to church
Feeling good – 9.7/10

KIND GIFTS AND NOTES
When we got home from Georgia, there were some sweet cards and gifts that welcomed us.
1) My Aunt Sierra sent us a postcard from Yellowstone, and in her words, it “is a good place to see God’s hand carving and creating.”
2)  Got a loaf of banana bread and a sweet note from Meg & Adam Powell welcoming us back! Mmmmm… Thanks guys!
3)  Opened a package full of tea! My friend Wendy Y. from the Master’s College (& Facebook) was kind enough to send me a favorite beverage and a very kind note of encouragement. The card message reads, “‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28. I trust God will bring to pass all that is best for you — and I pray He’ll continue to give you grace for each step along the way.” And in Wendy’s own words she was grateful that Christ was getting all the glory in my situation, and that the “Don’t Waste Your Life” blog was a great ministry tool. Thanks Wendy and family! Truly any good that has come from all of this is from the Lord!

Eric also got some love from family for his b-day:
A) a cute card from his dad’s family: “There are three good reasons this birthday card is late. 1. I bought it late. 2. I signed it late. 3. I mailed it late. (Inside) Best reasons I could think of. Happy Belated!” ha ha. They’re sweet. 🙂
B) a very thoughtful card from my mom and Rich (she picks good ones): “For a special Son-in-law: When parents have a daughter, they try to imagine the kind of guy she’ll marry and the happy life they’ll share. They hope for a son-in-law who’s strong and considerate and easy to talk to…. like you. So on your birthday, you should know how much it means to have that special someone as part of the family… someone who fits in just perfectly and makes us all proud. Happy Birthday!”
And her own words: “This says it so much better than I could! Thanks for taking such good care of Jennene and loving her so much in a such a godly way!!”

FAMILY TIME WITH THE MARGRAVES (E’s brother’s family)
Dave and Marybeth and the kids came over Saturday night and we all enjoyed the maiden voyage of our barbeque grill. I was thrilled that Eric and I were able to get it cleaned and working (I bought it used). So now you are all welcome to invite yourselves over for BBQ at our house this summer! The Margraves provided almost the entire dinner, which was delicious, and we enjoyed an evening of talking and eating out on the deck. Then E and I watched the kids for a few hours while D & MB went to see a friend’s musical performance.

We had a good time with the kids — they like the Food Network, so we watched that with them. It was also fun to ask them questions and hear what they had to say. The kids’ show we were watching had a “grumpy squirrel” on it, so E asked each kid if they were ever grumpy. Only the oldest girl J admitted to being grumpy at times — ha ha.
E said that he gets grumpy sometimes, so the youngest boy, age 4, asked, “What makes you grumpy?” E replied, “getting up in the morning.”
The oldest girl J nodded in solidarity. She and E are SO related!!

FATHER’S DAY
I enjoyed the sermon at church about the legacy of fatherhood. Pastor Bob made such a great point about the responsibility that rests on dads’ shoulders to teach their children God’s word. Truly we can trace either greatness of a nation or failure of a nation back to how well fathers have done in their role as leaders in the home (well, that’s what I think…). My favorite illustration he brought up was Jonathan Edwards — from his legacy he had many descendants who were senators, college presidents, college professors, ministers/missionaries, judges, etc. The stats were pretty impressive.

So speaking of dads, E & I took my dad out to celebrate Father’s Day.
He said he would like Chinese food, so we took him to the Panda Inn in Pasadena and enjoyed some tasty food there. Highlights of conversation included telling him about Georgia, reminiscing about camping memories, and hearing about his health. On the car trip home, I asked him what he was thankful for — He said he was thankful for his 3 kids, that we turned out okay and none of us are in jail or have criminal records (hmmm, glad to know we accomplished the minimum…). Ha ha.
He also said he was thankful that he’s alive, that he’s almost 76 and has decent health and hopes to live much longer. I’m glad for him that he has those things that bring him satisfaction, but in my conversation with him, I was just struck by the fact that his relationship to God is more of a detached respect than a personal loving relationship of Father and child.
It made me sad for him.
But I’m hoping to continue to have conversations like that with him and hopefully “add rocks to his shoe” in terms of getting him thinking… Who knows. E ended our time w/ dad by praying — it was cool. He prayed for dad’s health and concerns, and I was so thankful to have the night ended that way, with dad there hearing E pray for him. I’m just so thankful to be on the same team w/ my husband working toward the same goal. It’s awesome.

Later E & I took a walk (trying to build up my strength), and we called my stepdad Rich to wish him Happy Father’s Day. R and I talked a little about golf and Tiger, but he’s not much of a phone guy, so it was short and sweet. I also sent him an e-card thanking him for being an example of consistency, hard work, generosity and humor. He always makes me laugh. 🙂 But seriously, I’m glad he’s in my life and I certainly look up to him in many ways.

So Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers!
Keep up the good work — it’s so worth it!!
“Don’t Waste Your Fatherhood” 🙂

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