A dimpled smile

Sep 09

Yesterday was treatment day, so most of my day was spent in the recliner in the chemo room and driving to and from chemo.

Treatment day always leaves me with a weird feeling: I get infused with several drugs, one — Benadryl — which makes me sleepy, and one — steroids — that make me jittery and unable to sleep.  Needless to say, I come out of my treatment day every three weeks feeling strange.  Sleep is unpredictable, and I am planning on at least one more trip back to the chemo room to get some fluids in the next 48 hours.  When I “get some fluids”, that means that the nurses access my port (i.e., stick a needle in it) and run it to an IV bag of saline.  It’s a one-liter bag, and it takes an hour to run it in.  A well-hydrated body functions best, so I’m essentially giving my body every advantage I can.  And, as my mom says, since I’m infusing salt water into me, I’m essentially infusing the ocean into me.  I like that idea.  🙂  I’m in listen-to-my-body mode for the next several days; I’ll try not to overdo it!

We had the blessing of being invited to the lake this past weekend, one of my most favorite happy places.  We had five children ranging from age 2 to 8, and all of them behaved — I’m pleased to say — as excellent boat kids.  I grew up on my dad’s boat, and some of my favorite memories lake days.  We taught Maren and her friend to water ski, a parenting dream I have tucked close to my heart as my kids are approaching ski-able ages.  After a lot of failed attempts, Maren got a legitimate 100 meter run in, and her friend went a solid 1000 meters, so we were super proud of both of them.  Learning to ski is tricky and humbling.  I was the coach in the water with the girls, so I used a lot of my communication skills on try numbers six, seven, eight, etc. to both encourage perseverance and correct technique.  Seeing those little legs skimming away from me in the water for those longer skis was a bucket list moment for me, and I’m crossing my fingers that we get to ski next summer too and really solidify it for her.  Greta and all her gumption decided she wanted to try, so we let her have a go.  She actually hung on for 20 meters, but never stood all the way up.  Not too bad for a four-year-old, especially since she was wailing when I got to her (I think the noise of the boat revving up to pull her scared her.)  Doing new things requires all kinds of courage, and I got to see a lot of bravery this weekend: such a treasure!  I love that our brand-new skiers can experience the joy that they earned for all their hard work and perseverance; it is such a great life skill.  Thank you to our hosts and friends: we are so, so grateful!  (Video below is one of Maren’s ski runs.)


I was the coach in the water with my girl this weekend, and she had a hard time getting the hang of skiing. This meant that we had at least a dozen tries.  Each time she would yell “hit it!” and our faithful driver would gun the throttle to give her the required lift out of the water.  Sometimes she fell forward, other times backwards, and even sideways.  She made it one meter, she made it five meters.  It was slow, frustrating progress.  She would correct one technique problem only to discover another.  I heard her cry out in frustration, “Mom! I am a loser!  I cannot do this!”

“Maren.  Look at me.  You are not a loser.  Doing hard things and failing and feeling frustrated, sad, crappy and tired… that happens.”  I looked at my girl, tears on her cheeks, and felt such ache: the ache of wanting to take the hardness away, but more so the ache of a parent who wants her to get this.  I know –without a doubt– that she has what it takes to do this, but it only matters if she knows she can do it.  “Reward, strength, perseverance, courage, power comes from facing the hard stuff and triumphing over it.  You’ve got this.  You have what it takes.”

The last run of the night was my favorite.  I had to swim to her — that’s how far she made it — I had to swim a distance to get to her.  As I approached her I was too far to see her eyes, but I could see her dimple flash as she bobbed in the water.  That dimple smile tells me everything: I’ve got this, Mom.  I did it.

Oh, baby girl.  I’m so proud of you.  This was a bucket list mama moment for me, for sure.  Thank you.


  1. Melissa Pizzato /

    Well done Maren! You rock!!! And great post Jen – reading it has left me all warm and fuzzy! Lots of love to you and your beautiful family as you tackle the highs and lows of lives definitely being well lived xxxooo Melissa.

  2. Terry Reznick 4 /

    Be proud of every mile stone in these precious girls life journey

  3. Diana Gibson /

    Again your beautiful writing brings back great memories of the boys having water skining time with friends on teh Vaal. WTG you all certainly do rock.

  4. Brought tears to my eyes! You are such a wonderful encourager and momma to those girls of yours. I could visualize each step and imagine Maren’s face and your healing words to her. I pray healing words over you today!

  5. Oh my goodness. She looks great! And I think “hit it!” is a great battle cry. 🙂

  6. Jen, regardless of how your day unfolds, you seem to cram so much life into each hour! The memories you are making with your precious little girls are marvelous. Reading about the water skiing lessons brought back my own days of water skiing. I always wanted to be graceful like the pretty girls in the water shows at Cypress Gardens when in reality I never got past the “drowned flounder” look! Maren rocked those 100 meters! ♥p

  7. Aunt Annie /

    Jen, Thanks so much for sharing Maren’s triumph! And with video even!!!! Love it! In the audio, I could hear Greta say “hit it”! So cute! I’m not surprised that fearless Greta wanted to ski. I’m proud of both girls for their bravery!

  8. Kristin Russo /


  9. Kim Rourke /

    Way to go, Maren and Coach!!

  10. Mary Jane (fellow runner and WARRIOR) /

    Hi Jen. I am so glad to hear you were in one of your happy places recently. I wish that more frequently for you, Brad and the girls.
    I read with familiarity the feelings you described after chemo treatment. When I started weekly treatments the biology experiment going on inside me was more noticeable and I was really hit hard by the Benadryl and steroids. Please know that you can ask for both to be dialed back so that you are not turned into a zombie at the oncology center followed by days (and nights!) of climbing the walls at home. My doses were dialed back to 6mg steroid and 12.5mg Benadryl, without adverse allergic events. This made the day of and the
    following three days much easier and not so ying and yang followed by steroid crash and
    sickness. I guess most folks just don’t ask and succum to chemo being worse that it needs to be while thier extending lives.
    I love your comment about the fluids being like an infusion of the ocean. That is zen for sure. I always asked for a Sierra Mist and a cup of ice. If you pour it into the cup with your eyes closed, the carbon dioxide sounds like waves flowing up the sand and retreating. Try it!

  11. Lindsay l /

    Hit it!!

  12. Brought tears to my eyes and sooooo happy you were there together! Wow! What a cool moment!

  13. Way to go Maren and G but oh so way to go strong Mum to encourage.