Surveying the land

Nov 11

As I settle into NED maintenance routine, I am lifting my head and surveying the land.

The landscape looks and feels different.  I can’t put my finger on it; there are a myriad of things that have changed.  Some will return to “normal”, while others will never feel “normal” again.

One thing that I’ve pondered: before I had cancer, I didn’t realize how expensive cancer is.  **Disclaimer here is that  We have each other; we have everything we need.  

There are obvious medical expenses: the co-pays, co-insurance, hospital tests, hospital stays, deductibles, and prescription co-pays.  (We have insurance; we are so blessed.)  There are also the logistical costs: child care while I go to the appointments, gas to get to the appointments, meals out during the day between appointments.  There’s tubes of special radiation lotion, new clothes because I had a double mastectomy, lymphedema sleeves for my arm, hats for chemo.  Then there’s real life expenses: Maren’s gymnastics class, the dentist times three, two old-ish cars that need to be maintained, a broken shower, groceries, heat, water, and everything else that every family in America deals with.

Balanced against all the expense is the desire to make-it-count.  We want to do fun outings with our children; we want to go on date nights.  We want to give, and to serve those less fortunate.  We want to bless the people we love.  We want to live, to feel, to travel, to grow, and to experience as much as we possibly can.

We have perspective; we are less wait-for-tomorrow than we were this time last year.

It is tricky to balance the responsibilities of cars, morgage, children, and The Future against the desire to live and do fully today.  On Friday night we went on a fun date night together; last night I stayed home with the kids so that Brad could go to a friend’s birthday party.  Two babysitters in one weekend seemed extravagant.  (Plus, I am still wiped out… maybe radiation fatigue?)  2012 has brought a lot of unexpected expenses.  In addition, we are planning our budget for next year, and we have to factor in the fallout of cancer into 2013 and beyond.

Cancer-free Jen can handle this.  Cancer-free Jen is thinking of getting a part-time job.  (Know anyone hiring awesome people like me?)  Cancer-free Jen is just so thankful that she is cancer-free.

Since I was a stay-at-home-mom when I was diagnosed, we didn’t have to make the decision of whether I should keep working or not; some families deal with loss of an income.  Our changes were more meager: I don’t have time to clip coupons or strategize grocery shopping and coordinate with the sales flyer like I used to.  Friends gave us a memory-making family vacation.  We had someone come in an help clean the house because my time needed to be spent loving my people.  SuperGramma and Baby Sister came for extended-stay visits to fill in my mom shoes.  Phenom, NanaWoz, Chief Sister, and friends/neighbors galore have all taken turns watching M and G.  Every day I wear jewelry and wrap myself in hand-stitched blankets as a reminder of the love that literally drapes over me.  Many people contributed in many ways to minimize the cancer expenses; we are so grateful.  Brad and I talk weekly about how much we have been given, and how much we want to pay it forward.  We are brainstorming how to spread the love and gifts we have received.  It has taken a village.  Truly.

Thank you.


  1. I hear s! recently going through a health crisis myself, I think now, thi$ is a good problem to have!!! Yet still its back to normal everyday balancing, and I feel like celebrating!!! BUT there is the reality of the bills still coming in, the medical ones, like you mention. BUT what a great problem, over where i was a few months ago, YEAH US!!!!

  2. Jen, in the Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine, Oct. 29th-Nov. 4th issue (cover says The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer) on page 56 there is an article “Extracurricular Profit” about a woman who writes lesson plans for others. Sounds like a great idea for a woman such as yourself, a previous teacher who is creative and a marvelous communicator. Perfect idea for a stay at home mom who wants a part time job!

  3. Perspective. It is priceless.

  4. Jen ~ You have a Loving Village in deed <3 Thank Goodness that The Medical World has come so far 🙂 Continued Prayers & Peace ~ May The Land before your eyes always make you & your families smile 🙂

  5. Reading your changes/challenges and reading your blessings fills my heart with awe. You truly are inspiring! Praying for the perfect plan in your life…

  6. Pay it forward? Help others? Jen, you have already made HUGE contributions just by writing this blog! Oh, and I ditto the comment above from Peggy. I can only imagine how creative your lesson plans could be. You could sell on Pinterest also.

  7. I think you should eventually consider publishing this blog! It’s like “A Chicken Soup for the Cancer Soul”!

  8. Marsha Vonderwish /

    You have helped so many of us just by sharing your real life- struggles, fears, praises an all! I know God has a plan for you Jen,
    seek HIm and He will guide you. (And I like what Annie said!) 🙂