The best beams

Nov 21

Today was chemo day, so I spent the bulk of the day in the chemo chair.  Blessedly, in my office the walls have floor-to-ceiling windows behind where the patient recliners are lined up, so the sunshine streams in over my shoulder as I sit and the drugs drip in.  Winter sunlight where the beams cut the crisp air is brilliant and it seems to me to be just the right lighting for the hallowed ground of the oncology suite.

The IV poles beep, the nurses bounces from the computer screens, to the carts of needles, gauze, and medical paraphernalia, to the pharmacy room.  They answer questions from everyone: the caregivers, the patients, the doctors.  The patients talk — sometimes hugging, sometimes high-fiving, sometimes joking, always hoping.  The room is still agog with the news of my regression report from two weeks ago; the nurses wink at me with a knowing peace as they step into my sunbeam to reach my IV tubing.

I am so entrenched in the story God is writing in my life; when I take time to step back and see it all I am breathless with weight of my burdensome blessing.

Each week I see the doctor for a thorough exam, and then I move to the infusion chair.  A nurse accesses my blood and does a blood draw to run a CBC (a baseline bloodwork analysis that gives a decent picture of how my body is functioning.)  For the past year, my blood counts have been in turmoil and declining because of the continuous chemotherapy assault.  This week my bloodwork showed I am severely immunocompromised; another trough in the line of blood chemistry 2016.  In response to the particularly low counts, Dr. Wonderful both tweaked my dosage down, and started me on a prophylactic antibiotic.  I am at high risk for infection and have strict orders to call the nurse during business hours and Dr. Wonderful’s home phone after hours at the first sign of an infection.  My team really is on my case 24/7.

Tonight, I’m in the middle of what I call “the slide;”  increasing achiness, a dull headache, shortness of breath (anemic), weakness, shivers/shakes, and ever-lower energy.  I’m fine though: I just had an upbeat group phone call with my family (my dad is big on those), and I’m watching a show with Maren (her choice) as I type.  Our feet are snuggled on the same ottoman, and we just finished talking about her piano and volleyball practices tonight — both of which I got to attend.  Last I checked, Brad was trimming Greta’s toenails and putting her to bed.  Normal family life continues.

And even as I slide, I rise.  Today there were two men on my roof putting up my outdoor Christmas lights — a gift my neighbors have organized for the past several years and always feels like a great puff of energy and festivity at the start of the holiday bustle.  It is so well-timed and feels so big.  Thank you, neighbors.  A friend — I don’t actually know which one as I didn’t look it up — did a Quick Clean/Mom Blitz in my house today while I was at chemo, and I can’t express my gratitude at the result: my house is downright shiny.  Oh my, it should not feel as good as it does for me to walk into my clean house; I love it too much.  Thank you Quick Cleaners/Mom Blitzers.  My sister, the first of the out-of-town Thanksgiving pilgrims to arrive, was here this morning.  She made the breakfasts and packed the lunches and made special auntie time in the ordinary of the morning.  It’s special watching other people choose to love my children so well and so richly.  Thank you.  

Tomorrow: more sliding.  I’ll continue to feel today’s side effects, and I’ll go in for my shot of Neulasta to prompt my bones to go into overdrive producing those white blood cells I am so desperately in need of — and, truthfully, it will hurt a lot.  Also tomorrow: more rising.  Family will continue to arrive for the holiday and festivities will begin.  I participate less in the service arena but wholly in the gratitude and celebration portion of the days.  ‘Tis a blessing indeed to see my village from my view.  I see the brilliance in the many beams.

Praise be to God.



  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. Lori6NV /

    I love that you posted “Even as I slide I ruse.”

    I just posted this Maya Angelo quote on my favebook last week, and it’s one of my favorites- reminded me of you just now:

    “You may trod me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise…

    Keep rising!!
    Just like moons and like suns,
    With the certainty of tides,
    Just like hopes springing high,
    Still I’ll rise.”

  3. Heart so much. I’m thinking about my “next” career and center around imploring everyone to do something today to make yourself better. So when thinking of how to start that of course “do today well” comes to mind. We love the time we spent there and the impacts we had in each other. So, go, do today well.

  4. Rita O'Brien /

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family Jen.

  5. Kim Rourke /

    Mathie pilgrims are sure to help you rise and defeat the slide. You are one of their and our Thanksgiving blessings, Jen. I am off to do today well in my little world (always in your honor) (always after coffee :). Each day I am inspired by you to put others first in action, thought, and prayer, and to also be grateful for those who have done the same on my behalf. In this special time of year we are all blessed by your posts and thankful for YOU!

  6. The sky had a pinkish haze this morning….. Must be readying itself for the beams of the day ? The Happiest of Thanksgivings Jen – We all have so very very much to be Grateful for- relishing regression.

  7. Wishing you and the whole family blessed Thanksgivibg! Have a wonderful holiday!

  8. Happy Thanksgiving. The beams are wonderful aren’t they :). Thanks for being such a bright and warm beam!

  9. Praying for you!

  10. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

  11. Praying for 50!

  12. "Another Jen" /

    Love and light and a warm holiday to you…

  13. Christin /

    “My burdensome blessing.” That phrase made me stop reading and take it in. It’s much more poetic than Paul’s thorn in his side. Haha! That guy should’ve taken a writing class from you. :). I love you and your profoundness. God’s lessons through you enter my life almost daily. And I mean that. “Burdensome Blessing.” I gotta let that soak in.

  14. I know you will enjoy another wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and your many loving friends. May you all feel God’s peace as we head into Advent.