A description of the funk

May 26

The Funk, as I’ve been calling it, is definitely legit this time around.  It looks like each cycle I’ll end up with a stretch of days where I’m feeling “funky”.

Today I went in to the oncology office for my third round on this drug.  I saw my friends: Rockstar (my nurse partitioner), my nurses, my fellow patients, the support staff.  It was at a different office due to Memorial Day holiday yesterday, so it’s bigger, and it’s the one with the heated chairs.

I’m finding it hard to describe the physical realities of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of this drug.  I don’t want to sound pitiable, I don’t want to sound heroic.  I’m neither wimpy nor infused with super-powers.  I’m normal, and this is hard.

When I’m feeling funky…

-I look perfectly healthy and normal.

-Physically, I feel achey and exhausted.  And by achey and exhausted, I mean ACHEY and EXHAUSTED.

-Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I generally “pause” because I save my good mojo for Brad and the girls.  It feels a bit like I’m underwater; my senses and perceptions are way off.

-Working out, if I can muster the gumption, might make me worse.  Which, unfortunately, is a double whammy for my mental game.  This cycle I’m targeting an AM and a PM workout, even it is just a slow walk around the block (or even to the mailbox).  Prayerfully, it will make me feel better.

-If it’s hard/stressful in normal times, it’s generally harder and more stressful in the funk.  Normal things continue: bills come, children puke, wasps make nests, weeds grow, pantry empties, and tantrums happen.  It is counter-intuitive because isn’t chemo enough?  But normal real life happens too.

-I take and take and take from Brad.  He shoulders a lot.

-There is no medication option.  There are not recommended drugs that both work to mitigate symptoms and don’t have adverse side effects.  I have to feel it at face value with no relief.

-I’m lazy in my parenting.  I pick my battles.  I make choices for instant gratification rather than long term growth.  It takes a monumental amount of energy to be Fun Mommy for X minutes.  There is no way in heck I can be Fun Mommy for X whole hours.  Just-Getting-By Mommy shows up and we’re proud of her, too.

-I can, and do, zero in for moments-that-matter.  We have moments of brilliance and beauty and we thrive in our funk.  The rest of the time, I dump bucket loads of grace over my head and bucket loads of prayers over my the heads of my family members.

-Food becomes tricky.  Ease comes before nutrients, and frustration follows.  But then I’m too tired to emote.  Grace again.

-If it doesn’t *have* to be done, it doesn’t get done.  Having had two “funks” in the past month, I can’t even explain how far behind I feel in general life things because it just piles up.  (Thank you notes are woefully late.  Sorry!  I’m so behind on email too.)

-Maren takes on tasks that are mature for her.  It’s a delicate balance of allowing her to help versus burdening her unfairly.  I pray a lot about that balance.

-As opportunity arises, I sink down on soft things almost without noticing.  I found myself asleep on the family room floor “playing princesses” with Greta, and later with my torso on my bed but my feet on the floor.  No one naps like that on purpose.

-I strategically plan naps and days around events-that-matter.  I can rally for anything for X hours and genuinely enjoy it.  However, if I push beyond my rally point, I’ll pay for it with a crash-and-burn later.

-Rallying and showing up, even in the funk, are joy-infusers for me.  I need to fight for my life’s moments and it feels good to fight-and-win in the funk.

-If I’m out-and-about I’m either not funky or I’m rallying.  High-fiving me is appropriate in either scenario.

Let’s also remember… this drug and it’s accompanying funk is a blessing.  I feel grateful I get to receive this drug and it kills cancer cells in my body.  Chemo and I are on the same team, always: we want to stay on this drug, this protocol for the next forty-six years.  It will be an adjustment, and I’m hoping to experiment and tweak my days to string together as many good days as I can.  I’ll approach the funk with a plan: rest time for me, fun-filled adventures with Phenom/friends for the girls, a pass on life’s “junk” for a few days.  I can still Do Today Well.

I’m afraid in sharing this — my funk — that you will stop inviting me to do things because you’ll worry that I can’t or shouldn’t or that I’m broken.  Please don’t put me in that box.  I want to live out loud and I can’t do that if everyone takes a step back.  Rather, step in.  Please.  I don’t think I can emphasize that point enough.

I know my boundaries, and I’ll say no if I can’t.  But I’ll feel the love in your invitation.

I worry that in sharing this, my mother will cry.  Whoops.  Too late.  (Sorry Mom.)  It’s actually harder for the ones who love me most than it is for me.  They need some love too.  Again, step in.

This is a vulnerable post for me because it’s not all warm fuzzy.  There is a bleakness to all of this that penetrates and I’d be fake to you if I “I’m fine”-d my way along.  So.  This is me being real with you and trusting you to see me rather than pity me.  Know that I’m fighting the funk.  There are times this week that I will not “be fine.”  You can help with your gifts: your prayers, kind words, high fives.

The truth is that the funk causes me to sink.  There’s not any other way for it to go down (pun intended–haha!).  The best way for you to pray for me is that I would be able to sink in gratitude and end up (not coincidentally) in a posture of prayer.

Sinking in grief is mourning.  It’s sad, lonely, and desperate.  Nothing about that is appealing or life-giving.

Sinking in gratitude is perspective over my blessings, being thankful for my gifts, and reveling in life’s many joys.

In accordance with His perfect plan, sinking brings me to my knees.  On my knees in gratitude is a pretty solid way to approach the funk, so that is my game plan.  I have peace that I can do this… certainly not by my strength alone, but with God’s provision.  Pray for me and for my people; my village is metaphorically putting out fresh flowers, buying gifts like it is Christmas, and bursting into song to show that “we’ve got this.”  I feel them, and you, rallying for me too.  Thank you.


  1. Jennifer /

    Saving space for you, your Fam, and your villagers. Prayers!

  2. Suzanna /

    Praying big prayers of strength, joy and more love.

  3. Kelly /

    sending you strength, love and the ability to continue to have patience with your body. you are doing amazing!!!!!

  4. Ugh, Jen, I’m so very sorry for all that you’ve been enduring with these latest treatments. You seriously capture all of this *so* *well* (including the part about making moms cry… but, as hard as it is for them to see us suffer, I’m quite certain they wouldn’t want us to do so in silence either).
    You deserve many, many bucket-loads of grace. Sending lots of warm, strengthening thoughts your way. <3

  5. Newbyfriend /

    You are in my prayers daily. ” his strength is made perfect in our weakness”
    Love you!

  6. Lisa Smith /

    I just got your card in the mail, which I never expected any way. Your ‘funk’ kicks my ass on MY good days Every. Time.
    Praying and believing for you and your family. Love you Jen.

  7. ohiofishergirl /

    Jen, so sorry for the funk— praying for your strength to get through this. Be tough sweet Jen and you will win!! Sending our love… Dale and Lauri

  8. Rachel /

    Thank you for being real and authentic in what you’re experiencing. Your prayer warriors are ready to bow down to uplift you and your family. Rallying for you, Jen.

  9. Kristin Russo /

    A BIG high five to you Jen!!! 🙂

  10. Jen, may you, your family, and your village be steeped in gratitude and joy. And then may you rise up and high-five one another! And then rest in grace. ♥

  11. Hillary in California /

    Jen. I love your honesty. If you didn’t feel the things you described I think it would be unusual. We are all leaning in, sending you prayers and want your every happiness. Hope your funk, turns more Uptown Funk soon and the bounce is back in your step in no time. (That is a requested song on the way to school, have it on the brain!) Thank you so much for the update and lots of prayers are coming your way. Please take good care of yourself, most important!

  12. I am praying for you, but I can’t press in like your real life people, the ones who can do tangible things. But please know that your truth telling helps me know how to press in to my loved ones funks better!

    You are helping other cancer/chemo fighting teams who can or will not give words to their funks. Thank you, I will love better because of you. I will also high five more often! 😉

    Love, always so much love for you and your dear family. And tonight, also praying for you dear mama and her tears. We know our Lord will not waste a-one. You can take that to the bank, Mama Rozz!

  13. ShannonK /

    You are amazing! No one pumped drugs into me that are fighting a battle within and still I experience the “funk” quite regularly 🙂 That smiley is my way of giving myself grace :-). I love the picture of BUCKETS of grace. Thank you for sharing this – it doesn’t for a second remove you from super hero status! Love you buckets!

  14. Patty /

    Your body is telling you to rest which I know is frustrating for any mom. You are strong, loving and my hero.

  15. Stephanie /

    Fight the funk, Jen! I am behind you with strength and prayers. And, high fives xo

  16. Malia /

    Leaning in from Seattle. Prayers, love, strength and high fives.

    I will Do Today Well in your honor.


  17. Julie Talford /

    Appreciate the honesty and even in your “funkiness” you emanate, love, kindness and your ever persisting faith. That’s why I love you…always an example to us all of how life is meant to be lived. This update is truly inspiring and thank you for letting us in on your reality.

    Love you…hugs to you and the family.

  18. Karin /

    Blessings, peace, love, joy, clear skies, warm sun, seeing goodness, practicing gratitude. I will follow your example. Love, Karin

  19. Bonnie BJ /

    Sometimes there are just NO words and the Reply is just NOT enough !! But the Lord covers you in HIS love and holds you in HIS arms daily and moment by moment. You are always on my heart Jen and I’m sending you Buckets of Grace today and forward. ….

  20. Shari /

    Sending you love, peace, and strength in my prayers. You are such an inspiration, funk or no funk. You strive to do each day well under all circumstances, and it is so very admirable. You are always on my mind and I hope you are feeling better soon.

  21. Susan in New Mexico /

    Jen, You continue to amaze me. How you push through your funk is, sad to say, better than how I deal with my day to day life. When nothing is really bothering us we tend to take things for granted and not make the most of each day. Not “Do Today Well”. I am taking this to heart. Thank you for your discipleship. Our Lord must be truly proud of you. I pray that your body can adjust to this regimen and not feel the side effects so intensely. I pray for your family and friends to flock around you and carry the weight when you can’t. Listen to your body and don’t feel guilty when you can’t be Super Mom. Just being you is super enough. High fives and prayers coming your way.

  22. Angela Johnson /

    Thank you for sharing your truth and letting us glimpse your real life. Despite the Funk, the hardness, the pain – you choosing to Sink in gratitude and choosing to find joy and victory in the rallying and the LIVING makes us all better. Prayers surround you. Angels watch over you. I want those next 46 years for you and yours!!

    Hugs and prayers from Michigan!

  23. Abby /

    Jesus commands JOY through the pain, not impossible things. He recognizes, and so do we, that you are doing everything you can and THAT IS ENOUGH! It might feel like while you are Cancer Mama that you aren’t doing enough, but in reality you are doing more than enough. You are helping the bombs in your body to wipe away, um, CANCER! You go! Buckets and Buckets of Grace…

  24. Susan W /

    How brave of you to post. This is real life and it is hard.

  25. Mum /

    Yes – you did make me cry, but with tears of PRIDE and LOVE

    Top 5 reasons why I am happy
    1 You are my daughter
    2 I get to relive my days when you were all small, swim team, volleyball, library, art, cooking,and adventures
    3 I can fly under your wings and be carried along by your power
    4 When I am tired of doctor visits and follow-ups and moan about it, you are the gentle reminder that your patience is magnificient
    5 you taught me to “Do Today Well” and I do.

  26. Amy N. /

    Leaning in from St Louis. Sending high fives, prayers, love and light. And with deep gratitude for all you are teaching me.

  27. Tracy K /

    Your strength & willpower; funk or not, are gracious & precious. Showering you & yours with positivity, spirit, strength, love, hugs, high fives, & prayers.

  28. Kay /

    I’m praying for you and for your fam.

  29. Lori6NV /

    Honey – let me tell you (from experience) that you’re not at all behind on “thank you” notes. And those should be the last of your worries. Those who think of you and do good for you expect nothing in return but to lighten your load and lift your up. You inspire me, and I pray, pray, pray that sometime during the 40+ years you are on this drug, some brilliant doctors find some better management for your symptoms. My husband’s mom had 3 bouts of breast and ovarian cancer through his tween years, and she struggled with the “how much is too much responsibility” woes. But let me tell you, he makes a mean french toast and is the most caring man I could ask for. You’re doing it all well, my stranger friend.

  30. Dave /

    Always praying. Will never stop. 50 years!

  31. Jeffrey Mahrt /

    simply beautiful, jen. thankful for how you are touching and daring others to know what joy is.

  32. Maureen /

    As I have said in regards to many of your posts, you inspire me. We have never met yet I have followed your blog since day 1. I don’t even remember how I found your blog. And yet I read each and every one of your posts. I can’t do anything directly for you but can offer you and your family to be lifted up in prayer. And in your honor, I will do today well.

  33. Ami /

    I’m so sorry to have just read this now! We are ready to support you in the funk in whatever way is best. You are always surrounded with our loves and prayers.

    I’m so touched and proud that you found a way to share insight into your world with “funk”. You spoke with eloquence and purity and anguish and hope – such delicate fibers of your soul woven into words we cover our hearts in. Love onto all of you.

  34. Kathi Roth /

    Tears over the love and grace being poured out. Your honesty is refreshing and teaches so many lessons. i would be happy to be responsible for meals or grocery shopping if that would help on the funk days. No questions just a text with food please! Or anything at all. I’m a car ride away or a text. It’ll do me good.

  35. Jean /

    Monday I was hit by some stomach virus/funk – and although all of my kids are high school and older, I was caring for a 15 month old baby. My thoughts were consumed by you and all the other young moms who battle the awful post-chemo funk while trying to be present for little ones. I prayed hard – knowing both the feelings and the “little” responsibility would be over in 24 hours for me, but it the day to day/week to week/month to month reality for so many. Thank you for your honesty. Praying for many more nights when the wind whips your hair and you can remember more feeling good moments in the day then feeling bad moments. You continue to inspire me… all the way to the other side of the country.

  36. Jennifer /

    I send my continued prayers and wishes to you, a warrior woman, who seems to be leaning so very far into life. Thank you for writing, for sharing your journey. Through your words I imagine what my mother must have been going through, while battling cancer, while parenting little me. I honour her through your words, thank you. Blessings to you and all of those who love you. A fellow Jen, of the Canadian variety 🙂

  37. annie /

    The funk. It is for me a call to prayer. I appreciate your words–and for feeling vulnerable using them. I will continue to talk with our God about you and your lovely family and your mother’s tears. I trust in His power to turn things for good. Bless you today.

  38. Lizzie Perkins /

    I was thinking about you while flying to see Megan and to take a class at Corning. The moons light was vibrating in and out of focal length between the clouds and there was no recollection or separation between where the earth and sky began or ended…. just vibrating together…. heaven and earth the same… I was listening to this song… and thinking about you because i read your recent post last week.

    “I give thanks to Guru Dev (heavenly teacher) om”