Day 4

Mar 23

Today’s itinerary:

6:30: Wake up.  Cry in shower; make deal with self that I must stop crying when I get out of the shower.  Get ready, pack Greta’s bag, pack Maren’s bag.  Debate breakfast, decide against it.

7:40: Wake up Maren.  (Seriously Maren, you pick today to sleep in?)  I remind her that she gets to play at the Lenhoffs today.  She bounds out of bed with the news that she can wear her pajamas in the car and not wear any shoes.  I go into Greta’s room, and she is standing on the wall side of her crib, clutching her blankie, sucking on her elephant paci, looking at the quilt that hangs there.  I love the look on her face when she is just awake.

7:55: Drop off Greta at babysitter.  I feel thankful when Greta smiles at the babysitter today.  It is day 2 for Greta at the babysitter’s house.

8:10: Drop Maren off at Lenhoffs.  Maren’s cheer makes it easy.

8:15-8:45: Talk to Dad on the way to hospital #1.  Our conversation ebbs and flows from logistics, to cancer, to laughter, to workouts.  It makes this new lifestyle feel doable and normal.

8:50: Pull into hospital parking garage.  I am washed over with memories of the last time I was here: bringing Greta, at 72 hours old, to check back into the hospital for jaundice treatment.  She was the cutest, fattest newborn.  My sister calls me a badass for delivering a 10 lb. 8 oz. baby in less than 5 minutes.  I think she’s right.  I think badass is exactly the kind of quality I need to have right now.

9:00-10:00: Breast MRI.  Stun two more technicians with the facts.  Realize I left the information pamphlet for next test, the PET scan, at home, and that I never read it.  I am a terrible cancer patient.  Call my super-neighbor and have her go into my house and read it to me.  The protocol for the test is that I cannot eat or drink anything after midnight… and I haven’t.  God’s provision: I had no appetite this morning.  I would have been so frustrated if I had to cancel the PET scan; it is the one that will tell whether the cancer has spread.  Super-neighbor also tells me she has really great potential for childcare.  Amazing.  Pretty much everybody I know: they are all just amazing.

10:00-12:00: Sit in the chapel and the sun-filled patio of hospital #2.  Pray, blog, read, pray, think.  Enjoy sunshine.  Do not eat or drink, per protocol.

12:00-2:00: PET Scan.  They inject me with a radioactive/nuclear die and I have to hold still and not talk for 50 minutes while it marinates.  Ironically, Brad is here for this test so we have to not talk to each other.  And his phone died today (really phone, really?), so he’s pretty much just staring at me and asking me yes or no questions.  It was quite funny, but I also wasn’t supposed to laugh.  (Oooops.)  I love my husband.

2:00:  I am radioactive and not allowed to be in other people’s personal space (no hugs, holding my kids, etc.).  I make lots of glowing jokes.  We part ways.  He goes to be with the girls.  I visit Nurse Roz on her floor.  We discuss that I will not, under any circumstances, wear satin pajamas.  I am a yoga pants kinda girl.  I will also not wear slippers.  Have you ever seen a cute pair of slippers?  Me neither.

4:00: Nurse Practitioner Rockstar from Dr. Wonderful’s office calls: “Can you come in for an evening appointment?  Dr. Wonderful would like to discuss the results of your PET scan.”  The bottom fell out and I fought panic: two hours after the test he wants me in his office?

Tonight I feel like I got good news.  My body is not riddled with cancer.  I am not terminal.  I was not told “there is nothing we can do.”  Yay!  This is news that makes me celebrate in my reality.  Tonight, Dr. Wonderful affirmed that he wants chemotherapy treatments to start next week.  The PET scan showed some spots on my liver that are small, maybe too small to even biopsy.  Another PET image showed spots on my spine, but the machine was not calibrated to look at bone, it was looking at tissue.  None of the spots are confirmed cancerous.  I’ll have a MRI of the liver and thorax region to look at my spine.  More tests, more information, more power.  All I can do is take it in stride and put my game face on.  I am ready to fight this.  Tonight I was promised that I get to fight.  That is a good thing.  Dr. Wonderful got his first hug from me tonight.  We had another after hours appointment and left his office at 6:30.  He is a dedicated healer, and I trust him to give me the best of all of his knowledge and skills.

That’s the thing about cancer.  It brings out the best in everyone.  You wouldn’t believe the number of times this week that I have been shocked by the goodness of the people who love me.  I counter the one big shock I got on Monday with the many, many gifts I have been given this week: tangibles, intangibles, words, prayers, texts, emails, phone calls, messages, flowers, tears.  I am able to stay positive, strong, hopeful because others are encouraging me and interceding on my behalf.  When I throw all of the balls I’ve been juggling up in the air, people are scrambling and catching them and making it work.  We’re all fighting this thing.  God is powerful and cancer is powerless.


  1. Meggie /

    Ahem… when Maren saw my bunny slippers she stopped in her tracks and said “Meg, those are TOOooOO CUTE!”

    …but I support your yoga pants decision and will be on the lookout for fabulous socks.

  2. Greg Grewe /


    You may not remember me, but I am Barbara Marzullo’s brother. It has been a long time since I have seen you. You and your family are in my prayers. If you are interested, here is a great website to help share your story;

    I know you can beat this! You have a great support system in your family and friends.

    Greg Grewe

  3. Bonnie /

    Very encouraging news Jen – the fight is on!!! I am wrestling and interceding for you and am so thankful for the treasure of you. The Lord will meet you every step of the way.

  4. Sarah Helwagen /

    My thoughts and prays are with you and your family. You are strong and beautiful and you can beat this! You have an amazing support system and together you will fight!

  5. Have you ever seen a cute pair of slippers?

    YES! As evidenced by my GIANT SLIPPER COLLECTION. We’re in a fight.

    • Meggie /

      I’m with Katie. There is a definite spectrum of slipper cuteness and acceptability, but c’mon.

  6. Mimi Galgano /

    Jen, I know you will come through this! You are in my daily prayers! Love, Maryann’s Mom
    P.S. Look forward to meeting you when we visit in June!

  7. Rebekah /

    If you do find that you need some slippers, Uggs makes some. They are expensive, but really comfortable and if you forget that you have them on, and leave the house, no one will even notice. (I’ve done it) Thanks for sharing your story. “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

  8. Ashley /

    Jen – I’m Tiffany Wellinghoff’s friend and she’s been keeping us updated so we can all pray for you…you are so strong…I love your blog so far & I love your comment about making a deal with yourself that you have to stop crying after you get out of the shower…so real/true. I wish you all the best & know that you have a lot of people that don’t even know you thinking about you & hoping for the best!

  9. wow. God IS good!

    “When I throw all of the balls I’ve been juggling up in the air, people are scrambling and catching them and making it work. ” LOVE.IT.