Problem vs Pwobwem

Jul 18

When Maren was little she would talk about her “pwobwems”.  As in, “Mommy, I have a pwobwem.  I can’t find my baby doll.”  My kids make my life so awesome just by being themselves.  So many of my smiles start with them.

My sisters and I have evolved her babyhood lisp into an ongoing joking conversation amongst ourselves.  We have come to define the difference between problems and pwobwems in our everyday conversations.  Problems are real, legitimate, life-interrupting things.  Pwoblems are inconveniences, slights, offenses, and worries.  Problems need to be solved or compensated for at the cost of something else.  Pwobwems can generally be eliminated with an attitude adjustment, forgiveness, and attention.

It’s a great shorthand piece of conversation when sharing life with someone:  when we identify something as a pwobwem versus a problem, the person on the other end of the conversation has a better idea of how to best respond.  It’s good insight into the gravity of a particular situation from the other person’s perspective.  It also makes us laugh, so that is a win.

Today I got up pre-dawn for my PET scan: an early alarm, donning a metal-free outfit, pre-rush hour drive to the hospital, two hours in the nuclear medicine department, a ritual post-scan morning, and meeting Brad at the oncology office to go over the results.  Life has been so busy that I think I only told about five people that the scan was happening today.  I’m operating a day or two at a time, and just didn’t get around to spreading the word as I usually do.

It turns out that a sensor broke in the PET machine this morning during my scan; the results are incomplete, unreadable, and unreliable.  A repeat scan is needed, and these images are being scrapped.  Whatever is visible in the images can’t be counted as accurate because the “values will be off” due to the machine malfunction.  Brad arranged his workday today around the appointment, we buffered arrangements for the girls, and no one from the hospital called us to tell us what had happened: my team at the oncology office alerted us first.  All of this is highly frustrating and annoying.  I lost a half-day this morning, and will have to repeat the whole thing later in the week: it’s a big inconvenience.  However, this “bad news” is tolerable.  Always, always on scan days I pray earnestly for good news.  Today I got bad news (broken scan machine and repeat necessary), but this is a good kind of bad news: a pwobwem instead of a problem.  I’ll take it.

Dr. Wonderful and Nurse Practitioner Rockstar had correlated all of my tests: PET images, tumor markers, and a cell search test so that they would all be ready for review at today’s appointment.  This trifecta of data points is used by Dr. Wonderful to establish what the next treatment steps will be.  We went ahead and looked at the results for two out of the the three data points.  The tumor markers came back as “normal”, which is a good sign.  Yay!  The cell search came back as a “zero”, which is a great sign; I love getting the news that I have zero cancer cells in my bloodstream.  Yay!   After this morning’s kerfuffle at the hospital, a PET scan will be forthcoming later this week, and I’m hoping for a third good result and another Yay!  It’s annoying to wait and repeat, but — I remind myself — it’s only a little pwobwem.

So, for those of you keeping track, I got two Yay’s and a pwobwem today.  How’s that for clarity?  You people really do get a peek inside my head from my writing, and I really do wish more people wrote like this so I could see it from the other side.  

My awesome team got the new scan scheduled for Wednesday, so hopefully results will be in late that day.  I would appreciate your prayers and good juju!  Scans have become routine for me: they are a picture of a moment in time and I have had enough experience to learn that they are not representative of the whole story.  I am trusting God with the story of my life; I am merely the storyteller.   I trust that good things will come from my story and I testify that goodness abounds in my life today.

A challenge that has been evolving over the past year is assisting Maren as she absorbs increasing knowledge about our life with cancer.  She is intuitive and astute; please be cautious as (if) you talk about us where she might hear, or if your children will hear and then be in communication with her.  As I continue to be vulnerable and share with My Village, I’m also asking you to help me steward the details and knowledge of my cancer so that my daughter(s) wrangles it on her terms, and she is not assaulted with it when she is not ready for it.  Thank you!  She is so brave, and I could not be more proud of her.

Thanks friends!  Maren and Greta feel very loved by the swim-a-thon support.  I updated that post with the results, so you can check there for results; I hope to add pictures soon too.

Help, friends!:  I have a friend who is looking for a good place to live in Cincinnati; flexible on part of town/neighborhood, but would prefer to be in community with young professionals.  She’s a dream tenant, so I feel like she should have lots of options.  Her requirements: low budget (<$600 single unit, less if sharing community space), off-street parking, private/quiet as she is a work-from-home professional, high-speed internet required for her work, safe area, preferably dual entrance (deadbolt door to foyer and also to her unit).  If anyone has any leads, please send me an email and I will forward: andersonfamilyzoo (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks!




  1. Lisa Smith /

    Love you

  2. Shari /

    Great news! Prayers and good juju being sent your way for a third piece of good news on Wednesday. I will always remember to classify as pwobwems and problems!

  3. KellyE /

    Wonderful to hear the 2 great results!! Praying for more good news. Love the problems vs pwoblems. One of my youngest’ words right now is “attackle”. She uses this word interchangeably for tackle and attack. It’s been too cute for me to correct yet :). You are certainly doing a great job “attackle-ing” pwoblems and problems with God’s grace and love!

  4. Sharon /

    Congrats on 2 of 3. And now lots of hours to pray until congrats for #3.

  5. Dave /

    Praying for Wednesday. 50 years!

  6. Kim Rourke /

    Jen, may I kidnap your analogy between “problem” and “pwoblem”??? I know so many that this comparison could help (not me, surely!?)!!! Praying for a trifecta of results!!

  7. Jill /

    I love being inside your head. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your Village. Praying earnestly with you for Wednesday’s results and thanking God for what He’s already done. xo

  8. Mommaj /

    No wonder you’ve been on my heart…. GREAT news on the first 2 of 3 results ? will continue praying for Wednesday’s third.. Love you and trusting that the Lord blesses your day..

  9. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, Happy to hear that you are at 2 out 3… Prayers continued for you and extra prayers for #3 tomorrow. Take care and love reading what is in your head..

  10. Nikki /

    “…they are a picture of a moment in time and I have had enough experience to learn that they are not representative of the whole story. I am trusting God with the story of my life; I am merely the storyteller. I trust that good things will come from my story and I testify that goodness abounds in my life today.”

    I love this. Such wisdom. Life is but a series of moments that do not tell the whole tale. 🙂 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days (and moments) of your life. Ps 23:6 🙂 <3

  11. Tonja Hemmerick /

    You know as I was reading this I was thinking the trifecta or one, two, three strikes and you are out cancer!!!! Love you and will be a waiting for more good news tomorrow.

  12. Lori6NV /

    Praying for great scan results today!