Speaking out

Aug 09

Today (Thursday), at one day post-chemo, I am giving my first talk that is focused on breast cancer.  I am a survivor.  (Which is totally strange to write, by the way.)

Ohio schools started an event a couple of years ago (one of the founding players coincidentally goes to my church) called Volley for the Cure.  What started as a breast cancer fundraiser during one regular season volleyball match at one school has expanded all over the state, and other states are modeling similar programs after it.  In the few years since it started, it has raised over one million dollars for breast cancer research.  Holy moly, that is amazing.  I love that these high schoolers are engaging in such a vigorous service program with the help of their families, coaches, and schools.  It is such an invaluable learning experience.  Life changing.

I played volleyball in high school.  I attended the VFTC event at my alma mater last year with my mom, my dad, and my daughters.  We were amazed at the gargantuan effort that went into the auction, the games, the t-shirts, the support, and the energy in the school that night.  It is such a wonderful event, and the volleyball team and the families are to be commended for their efforts.  My former coach, the Mastermind, runs it seamlessly, but I can’t imagine the hours (and hours and hours) that it takes to pull this event off.

When I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in March, my coach, now friend, Mastermind, was one of the first people I contacted.  She has been incredibly supportive and sends me a couple of cards a month that contain, fittingly, inspiring quotations from dedicated athletes.  She’s continuing to support my mental game–I love that about her.

A few months ago, she asked me to speak to all of the girls in her program this year.  Each year she brings in a breast cancer survivor to talk to her team and to give a face to the project.  I am incredibly honored that she asked me, and I am looking forward to speaking to the girls in her program tomorrow.  It is the kick off for their massive fundraising efforts.  Public speaking is not something that intimidates me.

Side note: I do have fears.  Scuba diving makes me tremble: I struggle with the loss of peripheral vision, the 360 degree elements, and hearing myself breathe.  I fight panic, but I do it (in the very rare opportunities I have to do it), I sort of love it, and definitely love it when it’s over.  Weird, I know.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve spoken to a couple of groups at my church, one formally and one informally.  (Though all of my talks are pretty informal–I love audience interaction.)  Lately, I do a lot of talking, sharing, and typing about my life.  I feel like speaking out about breast cancer, and my faith journey in the midst of it is a huge part of what God has called me to do in this season of life.  Hence, this blog.  Also, I’m interested in opening the door to do more.  My subject is multi-faceted: breast cancer education is a new passion (obviously), how to treat/love people with cancer, what I think about cancer and why, and why I Do Today Well are all things that you, as blog readers, “listen” to me process as the months go by.  Typing, processing, resolving, and reading your comments are my therapy.  Conversations with friends and family are critical also, but it is here, in the quiet of the written word that I find the most peace.  God meets me here on this little screen.  (You can understand why I cried in the Apple Store!  LOL!)

Tonight I am using my last steroid high from my last chemo treatment to fuel my brain and finish planning my talk.  I’ve been inspired by the people who have come alongside me in my cancer experience, and I am hoping to inspire the girls tomorrow.  Please pray for me, that I would say the right things to my young secular audience!

Oh, and if you know me in real life, or live locally, I’d love for you to attend (or support) the VFTC event at Lakota West on September 10th.  I’ll be there!


  1. Bonniebj /

    Another date for my calendar….. How exciting Jen!! The Lord knows just what we need and just how to use US – yes Us – in the most unique ways. He just needs an available heart. You are and have that heart to share with these young women and the Lord has given you a platform from which to share. Praying that all goes well and that the Lord supernaturally gives you strength. Be yourself…always!!!

  2. How exciting! You will be AWESOME in helping the young people find true purpose in their event(s). You may prewrite and plan, but my guess is your heart and spirit will take over. God bless your words!

  3. Bill Burwinkel /

    You are an inspiration for me.

  4. Marion /

    Prayers for you during your talk! If cancer fighting was an Olympic sport, you would win the gold!!! I can’t think of anyone better to inspire those girls today!

  5. Jen ~ What a way to pay forward 🙂 I’m sure your presentation will be wonderful ~ You have inside information to Cancer, because you have been there ~ You will present with passion, love & much knowledge for many ~ I’m sure your talk will be a home run 🙂

  6. Laura FitzSimmons /

    You went to lakota? Did you happen to go to Liberty? My mom (Mrs. Dillman) was the life skills teacher there : ) Good luck with your talk.

  7. Shannon Weiss /

    Good for you Jen! We continue to send hugs and prayers your way!!

  8. Jen, we don’t know each other, but I check your blog daily, include you in my prayers, and you inspire me so much. I love that you are speaking to others (especially the kids, no less) to teach them. You are awesome & amazing & strong! Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. We are with you!