All stacked up

Feb 10

If you are in the know about chemotherapy, then you know that chemo is often called cumulative.

Cumulative in reference to chemo means that the effects of the chemo stack up on top of each other as the infusions continue.  So while the doseage and the timing of my treatments are remaining consistent, the figurative chemo backpack I wear every three weeks gets a little heavier with each cycle.  Now that I’ve entered the second half of the treatments (4 down, 2 to go), I am feeling wiped out.

I’ve now got enough “cumulative chemo weight” to carry around that my ten hours of sleep per night (up from my usual 7-8 hours while not on chemo) is not enough.  I take a nap each day and fall asleep instantly, both at naptime and at bedtime.

I find it tiring to do basic normal activities.  Brad and I were out running errands this weekend, and every time the woman from the store stepped away for a moment, I found myself looking to sit down.  Same goes for a party we had this weekend.  Since I had significant lung surgery immediately before this chemo cycle started in November, I hadn’t been able to workout/run (doctor’s orders), and I just never got back in the habit.  Once I get the energy to start up again, I’ll be happy to be moving, but I also know it will be a slow climb back to Fit Jen.  However, thoughts of spring walks evolving to summer runs leave me feeling cheerful in many ways.  In the meantime, I’m giving myself the grace to completely cross off “work out” from the list.  Normally it’s something that makes me feel good, but I know my body can’t handle it right now.  Plus, I have a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old; I think I could make a strong case that my whole life is a work out.  Exhibit A:  Have you met Greta?

Did you notice, though, the good news in the summary above?

The good (great, glorious, fantastic) news is that I’m still Momming my kids, running errands, going on dates with Brad, having parties, seeing friends, and generally living my life out loud.  Aside from the times I bench myself and let my family and friends take a turn with them, I’m doing the day-to-day heavy lifting.  (And, to be clear, I really, really need that bench time, as referenced above.  And that’s okay.)  On the days when I’m with my kids, though, I try to be Normal Mommy.  The normalcy of what’s-for-breakfast, and I-don’t-want-to-take-a-bath, and where’s-my-doll, and I’m-hungry, and do-I-have-to-buckle, and can-I-have-that, and that’s-mine, and one-more-story, and one-more-snuggle are the soundtrack of life is getting lived in the Anderson house.  I try to make a few magical moments each day.  As long as we have more laughter than tears, I call it a win.  We get hurt and we then pray.  I’m quite actively living out the pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and give it the best you’ve got mentality for Maren and Greta these days.  Whilst they (unfortunately for me) don’t appreciate that now, I hope that they will when they get older.

I’m sending Maren to school with her first ever completed research project: a short biography about Ray Charles, which she’ll read to the class whilst wearing sunglasses.  Did you know Ray Charles lost his sight at age seven?  Me neither, but I sure did enjoy having a conversation about that with my almost-seven-year-old daughter.  There are so many firsts yet to come, and I’m loving each one.

I’m juggling Greta.  You see, Greta has two distinct sides to her.  Side one is the so adorable, so talkative, so expressive, smart, sassy, sweet Greta.  Side two is strong-willed, stubborn, in-the-trenches, rage and fit-throwing Greta.  It’s a remarkable juxtaposition in one tiny person.  Those who experience it quake in fear and dread of Mad Greta, and just as quickly forget as Sweet Greta sidles up to them with a one-liner that has us holding our sides in laughter.  I haven’t yet figured out all the tricks, but I am sharpening my skills and will be fully qualified to end all of the wars in all of the world by the time my negotiation skills are honed by Miss G.

Here’s how you can pray for me:

-For supernatural energy when I need it, and for Brad as he is picking up my slack at home.

-For me to have clear discernment of how to best spend my time, energy and resources.

-For Sweet Greta to channel her powers for good.

-For Maren to have her snuggle tank filled and to feel peaceful.

-For there to be no cancer in my body.

-For our team of caretakers for Maren and Greta: that they, too, would have supernatural energy to love my girls in their own special ways.

-For 48+ more years of picking myself up, dusting myself off, and giving it the best I’ve got.  Because that quite literally sums up all of life, doesn’t it?


  1. These prayers and more. Thinking of you guys often. Four down, two to go. 🙂


  2. Taking on all of your prayers one by one. God’s peace.

  3. Lisa Smith /

    Loving you. Xo

  4. Christin /

    I’m in the waiting room for the dentist and caught myself chuckling out loud at your ‘ending wars with your negotiating skills’ line!! Too good! I’m probably laughing so much cause I’m right there with ya! Also, I prayed each prayer as I read the list and will continue that deep, crying out prayer. Love you!

  5. My Dr. told me that the side effects from chemo were not cumulative when I started chemo. He was WRONG! I to felt more and more wiped as it went on. I am praying for you every day. I hope that you are able to continue to “live out loud” as many days as possible and get as much rest as possible. You are so inspiring to me. I am having my mastectomy this Friday and reading your blog gives me strength. Thank you for your honesty and positive attitude!

  6. Praying without ceasing for 48 1/2 more years!!! I will add these other specifics to my list! You rock and I know that you are kicking cancer in the rear!:)

  7. Bonnie J /

    It’s good to have details. In time the Cold will pass, the snow will melt, the birds will fly and the buds will bloom. The Lord’s heart is poised toward you, has your prayers in hand – He loves You !!! We’re with you daily in prayer, in sitting, in resting and moving in love with your precious family. …

  8. Marsha Vonderwish /

    Keeping you in my prayers dear girl! I remember how heavy that ‘backpack’ can get!

  9. Marlayne Skeens /

    Prayers & Hugs 🙂

  10. Tiffany Green /

    Prayed for you this morning and will continue to specifically pray for each request you mentioned! Love seeing how you are living your life out loud. You can continue to do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Let Him do the heavy lifting when you simply need to rest.

  11. kathy swim /

    Don’t be hard on yourself physically! Running is great but your body and chemo is killing cancer cells! I go through the same thoughts and recently decided that maybe it’s good chemo knocks us down so we will rest and let our immune systems work on the cancer cells too! Sending you positive energy to help the fight. Try some meditation too. Prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening to God! It’s amazing what we learn when we quiet our minds (especially with a 6 and 4 year old). I keep praying for you and your family. You’re one amazing woman!

  12. Tiffany /

    Love you, Jen!! This is probably one of my favorite posts. It’s REAL life in the middle of the storm! 48+ more years of REAL life! And the Greta thing…I get it! Some days I live with sweet Emily and some days I live with her twin sister Emelia. Lol!