Be beautiful today

Oct 20

Be beautiful today

So, the good thing about my recent treatment change is that Dr. Wonderful removed the drug that was giving the flu-like symptoms.  I’m no longer dealing with significant fatigue, nausea, body aches, and energy drain.  I have more mojo to do normal life things and am cautiously optimistic that I will continue to improve in this regard.  Its been an odd mix: discontent at the knowledge that the cancer progressed somewhat, yet relief from the physical symptoms the previous medication was causing.  It’s an odd juxtaposition.  As ever, I’m choosing to see the good, and I’m gleeful about the energy boost I have felt and didn’t know I was missing.

Blissfully, I feel like I’ve been more present and intentional to spend time like this with this kid:


And, equally blissful and entirely different, I’m cheering on this kid in the way that she needs to hear it:


(Can you tell art is a thing at our house?)

As my energy returns, and I fill my priority buckets first: Jen, Brad, the girls, etc., then I go to regular life stuff.  My capacity to take on tasks felt like I might be back: I began making lists and peeking out at the things I’ve put off for months.  My little family is so busy being intentional and doing real meaningful life that we haven’t, for example, dealt with the home repair required from either of the two (2!) floods that we’ve had this year.  And that’s just the top of the very long and overwhelming list.  I began making plans to deal with the boring-yet-necessary life stuff.

We haven’t changed our family jam: we Do Today Well and make sure we connect with each other.  We had a great fall break day together and went to the zoo.  Anytime the four of us are together I feel so delighted that this is the life we’ve built.


Things never happen the way I expect, however.  Last Tuesday I started with a symptom that we’ll just call gastrointestinal distress: I’m managing it with over-the-counter medication, and it’s fine now, but it’s something I need to stay on top of and is a known side effect of my new drugs.  Then, last Thursday night I had a sudden onset of a skin situation.  Over a period of a few hours, my face and torso became covered with what looks and feels like acne.  Literally hundreds (thousands?) of pimple-like bumps.  I figured it was probably acne: the combination of medicines that are going into my body could cause an outbreak at any time.  With two consulatations with the medical team in the past week, the consensus is that it is either acne, or — more likely, they say — a reaction to the sun induced by the new medication(s) I started with photosensitivity side effects.  I, personally, think it is both acne and a photosensitive rash.  So, for the past several days, my face has looked like the very worst version of the teenage acne pictures you’ve seen.  Red, swollen, pimpley, and painful.  And of course I’m also obsessively washing my face so while that might be helping (and does make it feel better), it’s causing dryness and flaking too.  It’s a good thing that I have a lot of practice at projecting self-confidence and focusing on inner beauty — being bald as a woman will do that for you — because I feel (and, honestly, look) like a hot mess.

The looking-in-the-mirror aspect of it is one thing, but that practical element is another.  It caused me to cancel (again) my plans to tackle our landscaping (sorry neighbors), to mow the lawn in the twilight/darkness, to shift to all indoor workouts, and to stay out of the sun completely.  I literally don’t go to the mailbox with skin exposed.  So (sigh), there’s always something to pedal against and overcome.

Whilst this is tedious and painful and inconvenient, that’s really the worst of it.  Compared to rampant cancer growth, or other worse symptoms it’s manageable.  And I see Gods provision in the timing of this: there is no way I could have trained for and ran the half-marathon with the photosensitivity I’m now experiencing.  For that matter, I was a swim team mom earlier in the summer: I was outdoors for hours most of the season.  Heading in to winter is the best time for this to happen.  And — if it is what I need to tolerate to keep the cancer stable — it is so, so, so worth it.  Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

Brad and I had a date night with friends the other night.  I felt far-from-beautiful in my skin, but I put on some of my favorite clothes and a smile on my face and refused to let my physical flaws temper my spirit.  When I took a picture of the girls doing yoga on Maren’s bedroom floor before I left, they took a picture of me in my date night attire.  I am teaching my girls this: beauty is brightest when it lives in the heart.


Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  — 1 Peter 3:3-4


  1. Kristen /

    You are BEAUTIFUL! And I love your date night look! I continue to be inspired by you. You’re girls are so lucky to have you as their mama!

  2. You are radiant through and through. I love the moments you are capturing and your attitude and energy. You live life in the fullest way I know.

    Sending you love and grateful for layers season to protect you from the sun.


  3. Lisa Smith /

    Love you Jen. Sending so many hugs. xo

  4. Carol K /

    Jen, just want to share my gratitude for such sensitively written postings. I’ve known your amazing Mom from way back and it’s not surprising that she’s raised such a magnificent daughter. Please know your journey is being felt by many. Deepest thanks for your honesty and grace. Love and many healing intentions are coming to you and your family. Carol K. — – Portland OR

  5. Lindsay l /

    amen, beautiful one!

  6. Maureen /

    Beautiful spirit Jen

  7. Thank you Jen. your words, your heart, your love never fails to inspire me to be better than I really am.

  8. Amen sista. I love the truth of true beauty that you emanate and that you choose to celebrate on rather than hide.

  9. Amen sista. I love the truth of true beauty that you emanate and that you choose to celebrate rather than hide.

  10. Kim Rourke /

    “Beauty is as beauty does.” I’d say you nailed it again!!

  11. Psalm 45:11 The King is enamored by your beauty. Love this post. Love your heart. You make me want to love Jesus more.

  12. Mommaj /

    ??interesting, I woke up with scripture on my heart! We all need to hear this timeless message-for ourselves and for our young daughters and granddaughters. Love you Jen, have a beautiful and restful day!!

  13. Alicia /

    So cute (inside and out)! I really like your hair like this…

  14. Kelly Burns /

    Jen, you definitely define beauty-inside and out!! Your messages always inspire me and bring a smile to my face and heart. I also love that you were a swim team mom this summer. I love all of our BRCC swim team memories together 🙂 Hugs to you!