Grateful — to you — in the slide

Nov 27

This morning when I awoke, I could feel that “the slide” had started.  The odd taste that had permeated my mouth since Monday’s Red Chemo was gone.  I woke relatively energetic after a too-short night’s sleep, thanks to the steroids I’m taking.  After calling the oncology nurse, I started antibiotics for a toenail infection (hangnail) that is hurting–a sign that my body isn’t in strong fighting form.  My appetite is odd and continues to change daily; I crave really good steak, Dewey’s Pizza’s Harvest Salad, Spaghetti-Os, baked potatoes, and apples dipped in peanut butter.  I feel woozy, but not alarmingly so.  My voice is weak; when I speak I feel it takes a lot of effort to create words that project at an appropriate volume.  It’s the combination of these little things that I call my Chemo Haze.  I’m up, and doing a smaller — yet still important — version of my day, but things are just a little hazy.  Physically, it’s totally tolerable.  Mentally, I love chemo; chemo is on the team of the Good Guys.  Spiritually, I breathe in and out my request to God for a miracle: 48-1/2 years.  Emotionally, this has been a hard month.  Legitimately hard, to be sure.  But, yes, hard.  I can admit that; I can show my weakness there.

People, you people, have been reaching out to do some really nice things for us, and I find it has been my emotional salve.  It tempers the one area that is raw and ragged by this month’s developments.  It is these things that really shatter my haze and perspective and heart.  I believe the good is winning.  Love wins.

I got an email today from a twenty-seven year-old canSURVIVOR who has a big scan coming.  I was able to connect over our shared craptacular cancers and we, I hope, bring peace and strength for each other across an ocean as strangers.  The specifics of being a cancer patient create a reverential connection.

A couple, whom I’ve met thrice, I believe, arranged for Nutcracker Ballet tickets for our little foursome.  Going to a special Christmas performance was on my list, but I’d crossed it off as an unnecessary expense.  I think God answered my silent prayer through this couple’s overwhelming generosity.

A stranger sent an oddly heavy box to the PO Box.  Upon opening the box, I found a lot of chocolate.  This Stranger Friend explained in her note that she is a choco-holic (as am I), and that she had sent me 130 pieces of chocolate–one-a-day during my chemo regimen.  She went on to say that she herself is fasting from chocolate during the next 130 days in my honor, and that she will be praying daily through her chocolate cravings for me.  This love, LOVE, comes from a stranger.

A mentor friend presented me with a bracelet that embodies these verses for me to wear during this season: A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiasties 4:12) and Keep me as the apple of your eye (Psalm 17:8).  I feel the prayers encircling my wrist.

A blog commenter shared that she went out to play foursquare with her children when it was thirty-nine degrees outside because she heard “do today well” when her children asked her to play.  This makes me so happy for this little stranger family.

SuperGramma is still here, staying in my house.  She’s serving and keeping all of the balls in the air; she’s doing it graciously and at personal sacrifice for herself.  I’m not one-hundred percent sure, but I believe tomorrow might be the first Thanksgiving she has ever not shared a table with her own parents and siblings.  Service; Love.

I’ve received several cards and gift cards and letters and verses and notes.  I save them all, I read and reread them.  When I am weak, it is you and your words and prayers that lift me up and buoy my spirit.

So many are sacrificing for me: in the form of gifts, of time, of thoughts. of prayers.  In some ways, the choice to Do Today Well is a sacrifice.  You must be kinder, softer, braver, more open, more free, more vulnerable.

This Thanksgiving Eve, I am grateful for my many blessings.  Lord, help me to seek and trumpet the good in all I do.


  1. Loving you and your radiant Ember spirit. I will never forget the moment I met you. You make me smile. {huge hug}

  2. I have never been more moved by another human spirit as I have been by yours and all the stranger friends who have all rallied to love you well. I am baking pies for tomorrow and pausing between pie projects to read and maybe cry a little bit about how magnificent this life is…that the hard stuff is the most beautiful stuff because it tells who we are, way deep down. Three whole days I knew you but I will know you forever…48 1/2 years later and beyond. I am so deeply grateful to know you and your stranger friends because you and they teach me what is so most and critically important. There’s no greater gift than to give from where we are. I so love the spirit of the Ember; the fire only tempered by the elements but still very capable of an inferno. I am so grateful for you. Loving you to pieces this Thanksgiving and wishing you joy in abundance. <3 Mama Light-in-Gale

  3. Stay strong Jen! I was a caregiver to my husband Brian while he went through chemo treatment for stage 4 colon cancer. You, Brad and the girls are in my prayers daily. I do understand. Phillipians 4:13. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

  4. The strangers (like me), reach out because you’re an inspiration. Your attitude helps make me a better person, and particularly a more grateful and patient momma. I saw a rainbow yesterday (very rare in the Mojave Desert!!), and I just know it was a good sign for your rainbow chemo. Glad to be able to help you, in even a small way, since your spirit inspires me so much!

  5. Tiffany Green /

    Praying for you at 4:40 AM CST! I know on this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to have your blog to read and your words to remind me to always You are the gift that keeps on giving and a blessing to so many! Happy Thanksgiving. Faith, Hope, and Love but the greatest of these is Love. You are covered in all 3!

  6. Patty Wheeler /

    Jen, Brad, Maren and Gretta… I can’t tell you how many times I think of and pray for you all. I am do excited you will be going to The Nutcracker together. It is a magical experience… I took 4 of our grandkids last year and they were mesmarized. I wish you a great day together and may you have 75 more years celebrating the great days… I IMd Brad at P&G the other day asking if Mrs. Santa can stop by sometime close to Christmas. Let me know if it will work… God Bless…

  7. Kim Rourke /

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jen! May the “haze” you experience today be overpowered by the might love and faith of your family. Another memory to cherish!

  8. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Brad, the girls and Jeanne. Thankful for so many things this year including you and the light and inspiration you pass on to me and numerous others that are in your “army” against cancer.

    Love you to pieces
    Your soldier to the north!

  9. Newbie friend /

    Jen, you are choosing to see all the beauty and love in the world. You are encouraging all of us to be better at that too. My family sends their love and prayers to yours this day and everyday. May God continue to bless you in many ways.

  10. Happy Thanksgiving, Jen! My prayers have all been directed at delaying that full out crummy Chemo Crud until AFTER the festivities of today ~ just so you can be an integral part of the fun and enjoy all those “family favorite” recipes (you know ~ the ones the younger generation would never eat)! I so admire your grit. You’re an amazing lady!!!♥♥♥♥

  11. Bonnie J /

    Happy Thanksgiving Jen, wishing all of you a wonderful day chock full of Special memories. I’m also grateful this day for you- a wonderful example of a young woman living out God’s grace in an amazing way ☆☆☆ We’re all encouraged as a result! !

  12. Jen, I want you to know that I am thankful for you every day but especially on Thanksgiving Day! Your written words encourage me every time I read them because faith brings hope. In that hope there can be so much joy:)btw, my results came back clean n clear last week. Reminder-drink lots of good water and enjoy your family.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving Jen! You are loved and supported. I hope you were able to see through the haze today and experience pure family fun and make memories. On your red chemo day, I saw a swirly rainbow in a cloud while I was sitting in my car waiting to pick up my son from school. I did a double-take because it was so unusual looking and beautiful. I immediately thought of you. My daughter also drew a rainbow at preschool that morning. 🙂

  14. Hi honey. Just wanted to let you know, that you’re still the very best gym partner ever (we are going strong and 5 days a week)!

  15. kathy swim /

    I pray for your wellness and your family every night!You might try melatonin for sleep. It helps me especially during chemo wakefulness. I take 3mg. They even make a long acting one now. I also take Krill Oil tablets (1000 mg.) for aches and pains (arthritis). It is super pure, good fish oil. My oncologist OK’s both. Try to relax and enjoy this wonderful season with your wonderful family! Love, Kathy