How do I celebrate…

Nov 08

How do I celebrate…

As I share my news of yesterday, people keep saying to me, “Congratulations,” which is kind of odd to me because I didn’t do anything.  The day I married Brad would be a good day to congratulate me because I made a brilliant decision and I said I do— a good decision is an understatement!  On the flip side, nothing about my medical status is chosen; this blessing of regression is unearned and unmerited.  Whether you believe it is science and chemo at work, or God’s anointed blessing over my cells (or both), I didn’t do anything.  Dr. Wonderful cringes when people tell him, “Good job,” or “Congratulations,” because it implies that his work is conditional upon the patient response.  His standard of care does not change; when a patient progresses or dies, it is certainly not due to failure on his part.  There is no rhyme or reason why some patients with the same pathology and cancer biology respond to a treatment and others don’t.  This week, after a string of (mostly) unsuccessful treatments, I am inexplicably responsive to this treatment.  Medically, it is statistically unlikely.  I, personally, view it as a blessing from God.

Friends keep asking… what am I doing to celebrate?  The truth is… I haven’t done anything different to celebrate yesterday’s good report.  (Well, aside from a tears-of-joy hug for Brad, a happy dance in the kitchen with Maren, and a lot of smiley-faced texting emojis.)  That’s not because I’m not pleased with the results or because it’s not a big deal; I am and it is.  The no-change-in-behavior is more because I. Celebrate. Every. Single. Day.  The condition of my situation — or whatever you want to call it — is that I have very clear perspective on cherishing normal, being present, and focusing on what matters.  As I have navigated the last twenty-four hours and the jolt of regression has sunk in, I simply move with greater ease.  The hard emotions are things I deal with mostly subliminally and unconsciously because, I think, I have so much practice with hard emotions: it’s just me, always quietly squashing the bad thoughts and seeking the good ones as I move throughout my day.  Regression is a breath of fresh air in that sense.  Honestly, I’m also fairly pleased with the fact that nothing big is changing: I’m living well, living with great intentionality, and have a commitment to an eternal perspective.

Upon reflection, the few small changes that regression does bring into my mind are downright stupid.  Seriously.  For example, I’m more willing to spend money on the new pair of shoes I need.  You know what I mean there right?  I mean that since it is less likely that I will die before I get good use out of the would-be-new-shoes this season, I feel justified in making the purchase.  As if — don’t worry, I know how dumb this all sounds — the travesty of my death would be barely worn shoes.  (And again, most of my previous thoughts on the subject have been tiny thoughts that I’ve processed subconsciously; I don’t spend time analyzing that kind of stuff or having morbid thoughts often.)  But today, as my feet hurt, I consciously thought: I should get shoes.  Also, instead of putting things on my Christmas list that are for the family/home: new dish towels, movie tickets, phonebook credits, or restaurant gift certificates, it feels like there is space to consider what I want on what feels like a more superficial level.  Like, you know: I want tickets to the Ellen show, a week/weekend away with girlfriends, and other completely frivolous wants.  In this case, superficial feels normal — I feel more normal Jen than cancer Jen, and that is always a sweet sensation.  So there you have it folks, I’m admitting it here: my actionable response to regression is buying shoes and increasing my quota of superficial allowances.  Sheesh.

If you ever start to think I have it all together, please remember these thoughts as evidence that I surely don’t.

Today was our normal day–we would have spent it this way regardless of what yesterday’s scan report showed; it was our annual Election Day pilgrimage to my alma mater’s campus forty-five minutes from my home.  Maren, Greta and I joined our very good friends and we spent the day roaming the campus where I spent 1997 to 2001.  The kids, er — young adults, that are currently living in the Miami University sophomore dorms were born the year I lived in those dorms.  Eegads, time flies in some cases.

It is pretty sweet to share a favorite place with favorite people.  I love this place that helped mold me into the woman I am.  I love watching my girls lay the foundations for the women they will become.  On Election Day, I take comfort in knowing that I am doing all I can to make my little corner of the world as good as it can possibly be.


I love watching the brilliance of my girls’ childhoods: Maren is skipping her jump rope down the middle of the Slant Walk on campus, and Greta plopped down in a glorious pile of fall leaves to make leaf angel.  They too are making our world beautiful.

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The goodness of this day and the hope for tomorrow is what I will think about as I lay down to sleep tonight.  Regression, skipping, angels.  Yes, I am blessed beyond my dreams today.  May my life be a celebration of my many blessings this and every day.



  1. Newbie Friend /

    Smiling and thanking God for this great news!

  2. So glad!

  3. Alicia /

    Have I mentioned how much I LOVE reading your blog? I am so happy for you, Brad and the girls 🙂

  4. Diane allen /

    You rock. Seriously. You just rock. SO…..rock on jen!!!!

  5. I needed to read this today. Thanks!

  6. Linda Bucher /

    I wish I would have known you were in town. I would love to meet you. I live in Oxford and I am Joetta’s sister. I have loved reading your blog. You have inspired me to help my best friend who is going through chemo again (I helped her with food the first round) to find an house cleaner to clean her home the week she has chemo…..thanks to you and your advice!! It took me a long time to find someone she trusted but the entire Talawanda School District wants to help her again. I am thrilled that the entire district is donating money to help her with a clean home during her week of chemo. YOU are such an inspiration to me. I love reading your posts. ~Linda

  7. Eloise /

    So so happy Jen! Happy dancing since I heard the news xo

  8. Well said and well lived. Get those shoes and dance in them!

  9. Neecie /

    Doing a happy dance with megga arm movements. Love you sweetness.

  10. Stephanie /

    God Bless! xoxo

  11. Lisa Smith /

    Love you. Rejoicing. Xo

  12. Nancy Zwolinski /


  13. Dave Sahadevan /

    So maybe it’s not ‘congratulations,’ but I’m very happy for you, and for your family.

    Being intimately familiar with those kinds of thoughts (eg shoes)… buy them! Brad and the girls may (but probably won’t) feel a financial impact… but it’ll mean much more that they could do that little thing, or any little thing for you. I know I’m conflating my own feelings with this, but what I wouldn’t give to buy her some shoes one more time….

  14. I just love you and your beautiful perspective! I have been following your story for a couple of years now. I believe I may have commented before (waaaay back when you were “Anderson Family Zoo”)…I always want to say something but my words never seem right. And even now they don’t but I just have to say I am so so happy for this wonderful gift of regression! I’m absolutely over the moon thrilled that you have been blessed with more time, memories, love and LIFE with your sweet family. You are such an inspiration to me. One day when I grow up, I want to do today as well as you do. Sending love, light and blessings to you?

  15. Carol Hover /

    You write so beautifully!, it is an inspiration just reading what you write. You are a strong beautiful woman with a loving and caring family. God Bless Jen, know you are always in our prayers.

  16. You make me smile…living your life in the moment! Buy those shoes…buy two pairs of shoes! You’ll no doubt wear out the first pair making those memories! ♥p

  17. Aunt Annie /

    Hip-Hip-Hooray! Praying and continuing to celebrate your everyday blessings! You are so inspiring! Hugs and Kisses!