This week

Aug 26

The other day, my friend Joy was walking behind her daughter and my Maren.  The girls were chattering away, as five-year-olds do.  Joy tuned in to hear this snippet of their conversation; it’s Maren describing to her friend what the plan is for the coming week(s):

Maren, “My mom is going to the hospital to have surgery.”  Gesturing to her chest, Maren continues matter-of-factly, “She’s going to have lines here.”  She draws lines across her chest.  “And then after she’s done being in the hospital, she’s going to go back to my Nana and Grandad’s house because my Nana is a hospital worker.  Nana will take care of her, and my Gramma will be at my house taking care of me and Greta.”

Thoughtfully, she continues sharing with her friend, “You know, my Aunt Chief didn’t look both ways before she crossed the street, and she got hit by a car.  And she had to to stay at Nana and Grandad’s house to get better too.”

It’s true.  My sister Chief got hit by a car as a pedestrian in January.  (She doesn’t actually remember how it happened; she was walking to her car to get something and woke up in the ambulance.)  Chief was knocked unconscious and got pretty banged up, though all of her injuries were minor in the grand scheme of things.  The night of the accident, I took my girls and we went to visit Chief at my parents’ house.  This happened eight months ago, and Maren and I made Chief laugh and stayed for probably a half hour. We haven’t talked about it in seven months.  But Maren has remembered this experience as important.  When someone in our family is hurt, it makes sense in her little brain for them to to go Nana and Grandad’s house.

I am indeed going to go to my parent’s house after I get discharged from the hospital.  I could come home to my house; I could convalesce in my bedroom.  I imagine myself in bed, resting, healing, and I hear all of the sounds and business and fun and joy that is “my life” going on downstairs.  I just think it would be hard to lie upstairs knowing I can’t fully participate.  To come home, and sit quietly in a chair in Greta’s presence, without engaging with her, would be tortuous for me, for Greta, and probably for SuperGramma.   I think it is the best thing for all of us: I get to rest and heal in my childhood home, and everyone else will adjust to the changes.  I know that both girls will flourish.

It is hard to step away, but I have to; I don’t really have a choice.  Greta is almost sixteen months old.  I am the center of her world.  I put her in her high chair three times a day, I get her in/out of her crib four times a day, and I don’t bother counting how many times I get her in/out of her carseat.  Brad is a wonderful engaged father, but as a stay-at-home mom, it is makes sense that I do these tasks more than he does.  As of Thursday, I won’t be able to do them.  But then, I’m having this surgery so that I can do the Mom Jobs for the rest of her life.  I’m okay with that trade-off.

Maren is another matter.  I will still be able to “Mom” her in a way that I can’t “Mom” Greta.  Her needs are different.  We’ll be creative in the routines that we come up with that allow Maren and I to hang out together, while SuperGramma remains point-person with Greta until I can lift again.  Maren starts kindergarten on Tuesday, which is perfect timing.  Getting into the new school routine will help her, as she loves structure and schedules.

At every transition point in my cancer walk, there are things that are hard.  But my sense of peace that we are doing what is right prevails.  I know that Brad, SuperGramma, Phenom, Chief, and the rest of our people will keep loving our girls and we will all get through this next chapter.  God is good.

We are praying hard this week for:

-My surgery on Thursday (7am Eastern): Dr. Awesome and her team.  Clean margins.  Every last cancer cell removed.

-My liver: no cancer.

-My heart: strong.

-My girls.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  –John 14:27


  1. Jen ~ It is so wonderful to hear children’s conversations & how they explain things ~ What a Joy !!!!! Kindergarten ~ WOW a Great Time in Maren’s life 🙂 I am so glad you have a Loving Family & a huge support system ~ GOD is so Good 🙂 Prayers & Peace that the surgeon’s hands will cut that Nasty cancer & have it be gone forever 🙂

  2. Jennifer Madiar /

    Jen, I do not know if you’ll get this message (can I really respond to this message and it gets to you?). So, I will do my best to keep this short in case this gets bounced back to me.

    I found your blog via Momastery months ago. I have been meaning to write you on more than one occasion, knowing full well it has to be a bit eerie to get emails from strangers. But last week a friend of mine was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She is 40 and has five beautiful kids all under the age of 10. We met in Bible Study and our kids go to school together. Stacey is a class act stay at home mom and our mom and church community have rallied behind her. Last week as people hustled to get a meal calendar set up for the fam, I referred some people to your blog entry from months ago re: how people can help. The ideas of gift cards and chopped veggies and house cleaning and child care to name a few – these were so powerful and helpful. THANK you.

    I think the other reason that I have been praying for you from afar is that we have a lot in common. I’m a Jen and my birthday is Aug 16 and like you, have a kindergartner and a 17 mo old named Greta (I also have a 3 1/2 yr old.). I write monthly for here in Springfield, Illinois, and I’m hoping to make my September blog entry about the importance of the motherhood ‘community.’. Would you feel comfy with me including a link to your blog in mine? I find your writing so powerful and raw and refreshing, not to mention I think your health journey has the possibility of educating women about breast cancer and the amazing power of positive thinking. There really is no better medicine and I thank you for sharing your world with others.

    I too have surgery soon – and am so glad you can recuperate at your parents’ house. My mom is going to travel down to our house and hopefully keep the ship sailing as I listen to the chaos from our bedroom. But a small price to pay as I get healthy and get back into the swing of things.

    All the prayers heading your way for a successful surgery on Thursday, a strong heart and a healthy liver. You have touched so many lives without knowing and have educated so many without trying. Thanks for sharing your journey in an honest and candid voice.

    You rock! And you’re totally going to kick cancer’s ass. Jen Madiar

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. kent duffey /

    Peace to you Jen. I read all your posts and as the mother of two daughters I hold your entire family close in my prayers. That Scripture is my mantra – peace as God can give. I hope you feel that as well as all the prayers.
    Kent Duffey
    Richmond, Va

  4. Sharon Hajek /

    I think of you as a soldier going off to battle, fully equipped with all you need. Like my dad who went off to WWII and had to leave me, you will return victorious and your daughters’ hero. Love doesn’t miss a beat if you are across town or across sea. When you return home, all Greta will remember is how you love her. You are BATTLE READY.

  5. Lynda M O /

    You’re being held up to the Universal Healing Power and all will be well. What a huge blessing, this family of yours that are so ready and able to do what is necessary. Namaste.

  6. Kelly /

    Sending a trillion good thoughts your way. Please have someone update on Thursday!!! We will all be so happy to hear how successful surgery was!

  7. I think you are very wise in your planning. I had rather unexpected surgery when my youngest was 15 months old, and he refused to look at me in the hospital (the IV, the strange place, and me looking so NOT “normal” scared him) — he clung to his daddy and cried. A Loving Nana and Gramma are invaluable and your absence while recuperating won’t register on her long-term memory. It will be easier for both you & Greta, hard as it may be in the short term.
    PEACE be with you all.

  8. I think you and Brad have come it with the best possible scenario on how to hadle this part. i am very happy for SupperGrama to have the gift of time with her grand daughters. I am excited to hear how Maren’s “Meet the teachers goes today” i will be available by text – with or without the Benedryl zonk

    Gentle Hugs

  9. newiefriend /

    Sounds like a good plan, keep strong, this too shall pass. I’ll be praying for you on Thursday, love ya

  10. xxxxxxoooooooo

  11. …and your mom will enjoy mothering you! 😉
    Sending extra Peace, Joy and Love…

  12. Terri Kaufman /

    Your blog has been shared w/me by a friend of your Mother. I am a 2 time breast cancer survivor and this prayer given to me by another breast cancer surviror still gives me comfort daily.

    Heavenly Father,

    I call on you right now in a special way. It is through Your power
    that I was created. Every breath I take, every morning I wake, and
    every moment of every hour, I live under Your power.

    Father, I ask you now to touch me with that same power.

    For if you created me from nothing, you can certainly re-
    create me. Fill me with the healing power of your Holy
    Spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in me. Mend
    what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells. Open any
    blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged areas.

    Let the warmth of your healing love pass through my body to
    make new any unhealthy areas, so that my body will function.

    And Father, restore me to full health in mind, body and soul
    so that I may serve you the rest of my life. I ask this through
    Jesus Chris our Lord.


    The first time I read this, it hit me like a Holy Spirit Brick upside the head! God made me! Of Course he can cure me!

    You’re going to be fine.

  13. Marsha Vonderwish /

    Praying for our dear Lord to hold you in the palm of HIs hand! May you & Brad feel His perfect peace and care.

  14. Lisa Mader /

    Praying for you, Jen, and will fast on Thursday. Hugs!

  15. I’ve been reading (and praying) a long time now, but haven’t commented ’til now. Just wanted to let you know that you and yours are in my thoughts and prayers. May God guide the doctors and nurses who attend you, and see you safely through this next stage of your cancer battle! So glad to hear what’s planned for your recovery – the concept that Mommy’s in the house but you have to leave her alone to rest anyways can be a hard one for littles to grasp. And every mother needs some mothering once and a while 😉

  16. Checking off all 4 for you! Best of luck on Thursday. I will continue to pray and think of you and your family. XO, Jen

  17. CLEAN MARGINS! (Doesn’t sound quite as exciting as “OBLITERATE!,” but it’s to the same end!)

  18. Fredda /

    ” But then, I’m having this surgery so that I can do the Mom Jobs for the rest of her life.” Beautiful perspective!! You are exactly right! I will be praying hard for you and I know God will be glorified!

  19. suenitz /

    Jen, my thoughts and prayers will be wrapped around you and lifting you up this week. And I will also keep praying for your family and your mom. As I sit her wishing I could do more for you, I know that this is the task God has given me. I will get with Joy and make sure we are praying together on Thursday for you. Peace is the word and you just keep doing what it takes to hold on to it. Much love to you.

  20. Bonniebj /

    Hard to believe that five months have already flown…and such graceful progress and answered prayers from the Lord. Praying that the Lord will guide Dr. Wonderful and his team with precision and care Jen. Your family loves you, Brad, Maren and Greta love you, your friends love you and countless others that have joined your fight. Let all that we are praise the Lord and may we never forget the good things He does for us. Your Mom will take terrific care of you as well as your dad. Children are so resilient- they will be fine!! Love you Jen!!

  21. Peggy /

    Jen, when I read your last couple of entries, I thought maybe you’d be interested in this simple mantra from Ho’oponopono that my yogi shared with me. It’s a powerful, healing Hawaiian prayer and only 4 easy to remember sentences: I Love You, I Am Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You. Please take a minute to look this up on the internet, I think you’ll like the story. It will add to your inner strength. As you’re documenting your journey, those of us who are following you are learning to “To Today Well”. Thursday will come and go ~ and in a blink of an eye you’ll be back doing your normal mom stuff, having left the cancer stuff in the dust! Positive thoughts & prayers are headed your way, today and everyday ♥

  22. Ashley /

    Praying hard for you and your family.

    ~Ashley in Louisiana

  23. Shorty /

    Your parents’ house was such an amazing refuge when Claire & I stayed there…the love, caring, laughter, easiness, and peace that fills the house (because of the wonderful people in it) will be just the perfect place for recovery. Much love to you!

  24. Hi Jen ~ I’m another lurker who reads & prays for you lots. I hope you get to read this before your surgery and know ALL of the prayers that are lifting you up.

    I’m sure you KNOW this, but with your surgery around the corner & the circumstances of the last week of our lives, I felt compelled to remind you, before you went in, of ALL the people you are helping ~ we’re not the only ones “helping” with our prayers. Case in point ~ I just had surgery about ten days ago for some issues not remotely related to cancer, but my Doc ended up finding cancer. Surprise, I too have cancer, and am 33 yrs old, Mother of (2). We’ve told few people and just met w/ my surgeon yesterday, waiting to meet w/ my endocrinologist Thurs., to get more answers, but my thoughts have frequently turned to you, the grace with which you are vaulting over your hurdles, the faith & strength and joy you exude. Thank you for being such a beautiful model of how to “do” cancer w/ grace, and for helping me to breathe & educating. Little did I expect that my reading your blog for months and just praying for a total stranger would yield tools I’d use in my own journey. God DOES have his plans, we just need faith to listen.

    BLESSINGS on Thurs. & with your return to FULL health, clean margins, and a whole healthy body!!!!!


  25. Your girls will thrive. Your cancer will be GONE! Margins clear. Fast healing. Extra loving from Grandma (who doesn’t love that?). A healthy mommy. Kindergarten. It’s a week you will always look back on, remember that week where we kicked ass? All of us?! Prayers are going out all over for ALL of you!