Day 3

Mar 22

3 weeks ago, I had arranged for Greta to go to a neighborhood babysitter from 8 to 4 so that I could caulk and seal our shower.  It’s a big lousy home maintenance job, and one that I could not envision accomplishing with Greta around.  Because I barely get anything accomplished with Greta around.  Luckily, she’s so cute I don’t care.

However, I did not perform any home maintenance tasks today.  Almost every decision I make is different.  Maren and I strollered Greta to the babysitter, then we went out for breakfast.  The hostess commented on Maren’s hair, “It’s so beautiful! And I see where she gets it.”

I smile and say thank you, as I always do.  I wonder if mine will still be curly and red when it grows back.

Maren and I color on her place mat.  She has blue, I have yellow.  Both of us are underwhelmed with our color options since the scene is a snowy (white) mountain (green) farm (red).  Brief inspiration hits when we decide to combine forces to color the trees.  Last week I would have had an arsenal of Marentainment in my bag, including a full rainbow of colors, but this meal’s agenda was not to distract.  It was to interact, to listen, to look in her eyes, to see her, to let her see me: regular Mommy, who makes her look the waiter in the eyes to order her own meal, whose hair matches hers exactly, who asks good questions, who praises and delights in her whimsy.  For this hour, I pried the worry of my forehead and gave her my best.

Next we went to the dentist, which seems totally ridiculous.  But if you fall off that six month bandwagon it is so hard to get back on.  I call the dental office on the way to tell them that we were en route and also that, “I was diagnosed with cancer on Monday, and we have to leave by 11:15 because I have tests that are really important.  My 4-year-old doesn’t know, so I just want business as normal when we get there.  So whatever you can get done by 11:15 is fine; we’ll prioritize Maren’s teeth.”

They acquiesce with grace.  Both of us had our full exams.  I’m finding that playing the cancer card makes things happen.  I realize I should be finishing chemo before my next dental appointment.  Time is measured differently in dental appointments: I had 3 in Iowa (probably should have had more, but I fell of that darn bandwagon.)  Maren has had 3, total.  Greta, if you’re wondering,  has 4 teeth.

I move on to the echocardiogram.  I’m in a waiting room and I am the only person less than 300 pounds and under 65.  I fight the “it’s not fair” mantra.  I win pretty easily.

I realize I have time before I pick up Maren from school.  I go into TJ Maxx and return the swimsuit and sun dress I’d purchased last week.  I buy a couple of shirts that will come up high on my neck so that my chest port will be covered and Greta won’t be able to pull it out.  Jen and fashion have never been all that successful, so I’m okay with it.  Practical and efficient hat is on.  I move on to Meijer, where I buy flowers for Maren and I to plant.  The annuals are decisively unappealing.  Maren and I are going to plant these together and I want something that will live, grow, bloom, go dormant and repeat: perennials.  We put on our garden gloves (they match) and got our shovels (she got the good one) and planted them.  She was so delighted; I was so happy.

Throughout the day I had about 15 calls from medical people.  For each tedious call, I had 2-4 emails, texts and calls with messages of love and support.  I think that is a pretty good ratio.  There are a lot of really amazing people who are taking up arms to fight this alongside me.

We painted our toes and Maren’s fingers.  We both have hot pink nails, but she had me add  black and white polka dots on her toes, white flowers on her right hand and stripes on her left hand.  This is request and execution, relative to past nail-painting endeavors, was relatively simple.  She admired them with flair for the rest of the night and it was so worth it.

Our evening is normal, except that Maren plays in her bathing suit in the sprinkler for an hour.  It’s March, and it’s fabulous.  Greta was curious but preferred the stability of the patio.  Brad and I ate dinner together, catching each other up, being interrupted by Maren, planning, anticipating, sharing.  He centers me and my priorities click into place.  People at his work are moving mountains so that he can abandon his responsibilities and be with us.  Already we are being showered with so many blessings; good will come.  Good will triumph.

I head over to meet with my friends.  We pray for healing.  They listen.  We laugh.  We cry.  They tell me they believe, they know, that I will be healed.  I search their faces and lips for truth and believe them.  He is mighty to save.  I wish I could articulate, but this is where there are no words.  I am holding on to good, to Jesus, to love, with a ferocity I did not know I had.

Tomorrow: MRI and PET scan.


  1. Bonnie /

    Jen, looking through tears after reading your post.. You’re an amazing woman and it seems that the Lord has gone before you to make your way THROUGH HIM. I read an article on tues. about finding treasure in trials. Hmmm? This has been somewhat of a mantra for me over the past year or so. The concept is easy but the doing can be so hard. The idea being that even in trying times and the most difficult circumstances we can somehow find some redeeming good if we look. We don’t like them but it seems we cannot escape them – so our choice is to not let them ruin our lives thereby making us bitter, angry and resentful. Rather looking for the treasure that will help us love and hopefully serve others. By reading your expressive thoughts I truly KNOW that the Lord has made a way for you. I don’t know what I can do but I CAN hold you up, love you, pray fervently for and support you in whatever ways I can. I also do know that the Lord doesn’t put us in trails that He doesn’t believe that we handle but sometimes it is Bamboozling. I too have that unflinching trust that the Lord is in control. You are soooo loved.

  2. I don’t have words either, but I couldn’t leave this post with one comment. It is too good. Touched me too deeply.

  3. Julie /

    Still my Hero on Day 3… I’m catching up on all today… and am overwhelmed at your Grace a midst EXTREME uncertainty and all out warfare on you! Couldn’t help but catch Meijers… I’m a mid-westerner myself, although now in the D.C. area…. if I can coordinate any additional help with my base of family friends still in the mid-west, I will certainly try…. I just have to figure out where in the great 3-4 states Meijer’s exists that you actually live 🙂 Prayers for sustained mommy support for your girls while you take up resident bad-ass role!

  4. Oh, Jen, we just found out. Our love is with you. Biggest hug EVER. Love, The Pizzatos/Sullivans xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx