The burden of a cold on a chemo girl

May 12

One day last week I started the day just fine, but then I felt a cold coming on.  My spidey-senses were all tingling: I could feel it in my chest, head, face, nose, eyes–it just felt like it was going to be a doozie.

I leaned heavily on the cart as I went to the grocery store in what felt like a last stand: I got chicken noodle soup, apple sauce, crackers, and tea.  I did not even get the rest of the things on the grocery list, I just got my sick-y supplies and left… that’s how bad I was feeling.

I crawled into bed and have been keeping only-the-barest-of-essentials afloat since then.  Greta’s birthday happened so I — of course — rallied for all of that awesomeness.  Brad and the girls also gave me a splendid Mother’s Day.  I think my favorite moment from this year’s Mother’s Day was our homemade pancake breakfast.  They came to take my order, and I was prepared for blueberry, chocolate chip, plain, etc.  However, the interactive hand-written menu they created wanted me to choose my pancake shape; I had about a dozen choices!  All three really went out of their way to make me feel loved and special all day.

Aside from these super-moments, I have been quiet.  I resorted to getting a box to put on my desk so that the leaning pile of “Jen’s stuff to deal with” does not spew off onto the floor.  That box is now full and I am on the fence today about whether to get another box or whether to devote energy to finding out what happened last week via the box’s contents.  I’ve waved at friends across the yonder instead of going to talk because I just can’t.  I’ve cancelled stuff.  Next-to-no-one is hearing from me.  Even my inner-circle people are hearing only echoes coming from my direction; sorry folks!  And yesterday I had twenty texts pop through at the same time; I have no idea what that is about or if I have been missing messages.

So, here I am nine days after my cold started, and I am still not back to normal.  On the bright side once this cold is over, “chemo normal” is going to feel pretty good.  Perspective, right?

I had a mini-meltdown somewhere in the middle.  The house was a wreck, I am so out of shape, I found Greta’s undone homework from March in her bedroom, Maren asked me for the seventeenth time to sign her up for that thing I keep forgetting to sign her up for, and the list of things that I want to do and need to do can feel like it is crushing me.  And that’s just the stuff: the bigger weight is that there are so many of my people whom I feel I am not loving well these days and I am operating at such a minimal capacity I feel I may be hurting feelings on the other side.  I feel so very small and — even when I have thoughts about/for someone, I can’t get the traction to share it energy-wise.  Small is a good way to describe how I’m feeling.  It’s not a great feeling.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still the same Do Today Well girl.  My game is the same and I have a strong sense of grace and trust in the process.  But when I look outside my own head to what I’m engaged in outside of myself, it’s all very small.

I’ve tried hard to operate such that Maren and Greta haven’t been significantly impacted by my lower-than-normal participation, but they are probably the only ones.  Brad has helped me rally for the moments that matter and has — as usual — taken on a disproportionate balance of our “stuff” to enable me.  He’s awesome.

I typed this during Greta’s gymnastics class today, and I also managed to watch her first vault.  I call that a win.  I’m going to publish it now, before I even read it over because I want the world my people you to know I’m not ignoring you.  If you messaged me and you hoped to hear back, please try me again — it’s not you, it’s me.  This is — as much as anything — a quick update just to let you know where I am and what I’m up to…


  1. Lisa Smith /

    You are super mom and a super friend. And you are super killing it. I wish I could just burn that pile in the box for you. I started thinking, “Why do I keep all this shit?” In my own to-do list piles. Things I should file a filing cabinet but I can even afford to buy a proper, working filing cabinet or the effing folders that would organize my shit. So I actually started putting them in my burn pile. Literally set them in our outdoor fire pit (rusted wheel barrow, which I will text a picture to you later when I am home, just for laughs). I’m talking about hubby’s and my pay stubs. I got sick of seeing them laying around in my to-do (file) pile and so I decided to burn it. De-clutter, yes please! THEN, I get this medical bill I can pay and start applying to Medi-Cal, and guess what they need? Hubby’s and my pay stubs. Duh. Of course they need those. So now I’m running around trying to get copies of said pay stubs printed on a printer I don’t own and into the Medi-Cal office. Hope that makes you laugh a bit. Love you friend. xo. PS. You. Are. Killing. It. Did I mention that already? God I love you. Inspiring me Every. Day. xo

    • Lisa Smith /

      ^So many typos in that comment… gotta get the kids to school.

  2. Ami /

    Jen – there is nothing about you that is small. You are a giant beacon of unlimited joy and strength. Your soul is out spreading it’s love without you having to do anything. You will always make ripples of positive Juju. Just thinking of you fills my bucket – the choices you make each day and how smartly you find ways to love fills my heart with inspiration. A call from you and my cup runneth over.

  3. Aunt annie /

    Your village, your people understand! Grace. Your priorities are there – saving your energy for Greta and Maren. Jen, it is OK to be small right now. You have been a GIGANTIC inspiration for so long to so many people! Relax and heal. Hugs, Aunt annie

  4. Stacy /

    Jen-you don’t know me (one of your mom’s neighbors), but I’ve been stealing inspiration from your blog for many months. I can SO strongly relate to your “small” entry…and I don’t have chemo, young kids, cancer or a cold – just a low spot with too much to do and trying to do today well. I am convinced that one of God’s missions for you is to teach your many friends, both visible and invisible, what it means to be humble, grateful, forgiving, loving, trusting, strong. I admire you more than words can express and thank God for sending your shining spirit my way.

  5. Newbie friend /

    Praying for your healing, listen to your body and you will get your strength back!

  6. Karin /

    Even this is Doing Today Well. You. are. loved.

  7. Kay /

    Praying for you!

  8. Shari /

    You are such a BIG part of your readers’ lives. No matter how behind and how small you feel, it is impossible for the rest of the world to see you that way. We all admire you and the amazing way that you love your family. They are THE most important thing in your life, and if that is where your energy goes, then you have done the day well. Please don’t give that pile another thought. Save your energy for your family that you love and who love you so very much. Prayers of healing are being sent your way.

  9. Elisabete /

    Lots of love!!

  10. Marlayne Skeens /

    Jen ~
    You are doing what is BEST for You & Your Family ~ I can’t believe anyone would think any less of you, if those emails & notes aren’t answered ~ You Must take care of yourself & enjoy those Precious Memories of your family 🙂 Hugs & Prayers ~ May you soon feel better from that nasty cold 🙂 You are Still such a Great Mentor, Mommy & Wife ~ You are Loved by many for many reasons & then some <3 * Love your Mother's Day Breakfast 🙂 <3 🙂

  11. Mommaj /

    Small?…. May you never feel that way my dear!! Your troops Understand in ways that only they know…. Grace Abounds!! Knowing about THE cold only makes my prayers stronger and more fervent so that you can attend volleyball games plus give a few special pointers ?, touched my heart Big. Love and support you Jen – love covers and surrounds you….

  12. Lillie Brinson /

    This is the life you have now and it’s OK if you feel small.
    From another chemo girl,

  13. Those piles serve the purpose of filling a person with guilt (I know, because I have them, too). What you feel and what you are are two very different things. You may feel small but your influence ripples oh-so-large. In the words of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity, and beyond!”
    May your continued self-care help you kick this nasty cold to the curb.

  14. Lori6NV /

    We love you Jen, and your nation-wide village knows you love us back. You focus on your health and your girls, and know that we’re all praying for you. Remember: He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29.

  15. Christy Berning /

    Jen – The humility with which you shared how this cold has temporarily knocked you down is a testament to just how “not small” you truly are! It takes someone with a BIG spirit to share their struggles. Just remember to give yourself some grace too. Sending prayerful blessings of health to you, my friend.