Making plans

Jun 20

It’s coming up on the the three month mark since my last scan.  Dr. Wonderful and I will discuss when we will  next scan at my next appointment (on Monday).  It could be anytime between now and three months from now (6 months total is the longest he will let me go without a scan).  The more I think about it, the more I feel better about the scanning (thus reducing my scanxiety): I want the confirmation that I’m still NED, or, if not, I want to catch any spots sooner rather than later.  And–always a good reminder–I can’t do anything about any of it: it is what it is.  I control only how I live with it.  Earlier this month Dr. Wonderful ran some blood tests to help us him make that decision, and my blood results came back with good numbers.  They were as good as I could hope for, really… so I am full of expectation hope that the scan –whenever it may be– will be clear.

That’s a delicate balance I live everyday.  I live in constant hope of a miracle, but I try not to live with the expectation of a miracle.  It’s a fine line.  I (try to) make the most of my days and have no regrets, whilst still making plans and dreaming of old age.

Yup.  I dream of old age.  Don’t you?

Brad and I have hit the stretch for the first time since last September where we have some breathing room.  It’s been a sprint from my scan to surgery to chemo to more surgery to more chemo and memory-making along the way, with a memory-making frenzy over the past 3 months.  The memory making is still happening, of course, but we finally have some free space on the calendar.  I love having the day-t0-day free space: long days at the pool, bike riding, nature exploring, random ice cream stops, and playing without interruption.  The daily freedom and lack of schedule is good, but the long-term free space is making me a wee bit twitchy.

We have two more biggie memory makers coming up in 2014, but then after that our calendar is open.  Like wiiiide open.  (As it is for most people, right?  How many things do you have on your calendar for 2015 or 2016?)  I keep telling myself it’s okay to have blank calendar in the long term.

Brad, in his limitless love for me is helping to plan some things for The Future.  We’re penciling in things that we will hopefully go over with ink and make happen.  Others will get erased, but their primary purpose–the joyful anticipation of being on the calendar–will have served the purpose.  Honestly, it’s one of our favorite ways to spend a date night: What beach trip is next?  What ages for the girls for the Grand Canyon?  I heard about a train you can take from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, including National Parks.  It makes us reminisce our own experiences.  Spots from my childhood: Myrtle Beach, Mackinac, Jekyll Island.  Spots from his childhood: Boundary Waters, the West in a camper.  Our favorite memories are lakeside: he loves knee boarding, I love water-skiing.  We’re filling up 2015 and beyond and allocating his vacation days.  Planning fun is always fun.

Something else that has been tickling my heart in this vein is the idea of going on a retreat.  In the spring of 2013, I did one of the most random things I’ve ever done and went on a writing retreat with a bunch of strangers who became soul-friends.  The kind of people you don’t talk to a lot (because of logistics), but who imprint on you and leave you changed better.  I came away from that weekend refreshed and renewed in a way I have a hard time explaining.  Last week I stumbled across a yoga/writing retreat that sounds amazing.  My adventurous risk-taking side (not a very big side of me, mind you) is itching to do it.  The fearful side (also not very big side of me) thinks that it is ridiculous and selfish to spend so much money and time on one’s self in my situation.  The Wife/Mama side (a very, very big side of me) doesn’t want to go at all because I cherish my days with my family.  The Jen side of me wants to go because the older I get, the more I learn, the more I like who I am.  I know that I would come away from this retreat better, fuller, stronger.  And who doesn’t need more “-er” in their life?  When I squash all of these together: Adventure/Fear/Wife/Mama/Jen, I find myself stomping my foot and insisting I go simply to crush the Fear fear side.  The exercise of wanting to go, discovering why, and deciding to keep the door open was really good for me: I want to defy fear and live adventurously!  (I’m actually not going on this particular retreat for a myriad of reasons, but I’m keeping the door open for things like it in the future because I refuse to be ruled by fear.)

Since my breast cancer lung spot was confirmed metastatic in November and we developed the treatment plan that included surgeries and chemo, I’ve referred to this three month window (April, May, June 2014) as “the magic window”.  No chemo, no treatment with side effects that make me feel crummy.  Normal days, healthy days, NED days.  A magical blessing indeed.

I’m praying in earnest (and would appreciate your prayers too) that my magical NED window would be extended and extended and extended for 47+ years.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosperyou and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11


  1. Lisa Smith /

    47+ more years! xo

  2. Praying for you!

  3. Charlotte W /

    You are such an inspiration. I continue to pray for you and your family. We found out my mom has cancer over Easter. I told her about your blog, and that it was nice to know some of what she was going to be up against. She felt that God led me to your blog so that I would be more prepared for what she was going to go through. I very much like the idea of that.
    She was on the tail end of treatment, recovering from her last round of chemo this week and started to get a fever. She’s been in the hospital since Tues. Her fever is better, but her white count was very low and they decided to have her stay until it went back up. I ask that you may pray for my mom too. And thank you for your constant uplifting words, and encouraging posts.

  4. Lovely words Jen. I love the idea of making memories! And just like you, I LOVE planning that next trip and adventure as a family —even if its years away. 🙂 Your writing retreat sounds amazing! I’m praying about a mission trip to South Africa but I am allowing fear to take over. Thanks for the reminder to not allow fear to control our lives. Enjoy the slower summer days with your girls.

  5. Julie Hughes /

    More “-er”! Yes, love that!! I pray for you as I run because I think we would be running buddies if we actually lived in the same state. 🙂 love and prayers from Alabama.

  6. Genora /

    In Jesus Name….To God Be The Glory, AMEN.

  7. annie /

    One of my favorite verses; there are times when we need the reminder (and the comfort) of knowing that God is faithful.

    Rest assured that you are wrapped in prayer–that your magical and miracle NED will carry you well into old age.


  8. Marlayne Skeens /

    Jen ~ Praying & Filled w/HOPE for continuing NED & to facing fear in a positive way 🙂

  9. Nikki /

    Retreating is my absolutely favorite thing in all the world. And I struggle with the same contemplations every time a new one is presented to me. Some I go to. Others I do not. My heart tells me which ones I need. And I always come away better for the ones my heart chooses.

    We missed you so much at the latest WRITE retreat. 🙂 Our little tribe is so bound together with heart strings, it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. And I am so grateful that while you were not there physically, you were still there in spirit. 🙂 And of course following the grace of your words here and the way you choose your joy in spite of circumstance, helps keep you close and my heart in a right perspective. It’s like having tea with a very dear friend. <3

  10. Stephanie /

    May God continue to bless you and your family. xo

  11. Jennifer /

    I am firmly in the camp that is hoping, wishing and praying for the miracle of 47+ more years. I have been following since Momastery linked to your story and have been sending prayers ever since. Funnily enough we share the same name and the same fear (retreats!) … I am signed up for Write this fall and looking for a million reasons why I shouldn’t go. I hope another inspiring retreat falls into your path and the world conspires in beautiful ways to get you there.

  12. Christin /

    Have been and will keep praying for the NED window. Have been and am inspired by your tenacity to crush fears. Also, loved the line, “who doesn’t want more -ers in their life.” Made me chuckle and totally resonated with me.

  13. Tina /

    Hugs, love n prayers from the north 🙂

  14. Go on a retreat! There is nothing like a retreat to jostle your soul into full view.