A week of spring

Apr 19

On Monday I had my second infusion of my new chemotherapy drug. Everyone who sees me keeps asking how I am feeling on the new stuff and how it compares to the old stuff. Meh, it’s hard to tell. In general, it’s still chemo with all the accompanying challenges. I’m getting steroids and the white-blood-cell-boosting drug in addition to the chemo, so it is hard to tell what’s what. However, I’m managing to do my life well, and so far I’ve been able to keep up with the things I have on my calendar. (And be mentally present for them.) In that sense, I feel good.

You can pray for me: that this chemo would reduce and regress cancer, that my healthy cells would be spared. Fatigue, bone pain, nausea, neuropathy, and skin tenderness are all things I’m managing as best I can. I’ve also been having a lot of muscular back pain and spasms; I think it is due to coughing and weakened muscles due to atrophy. And also probably from me still trying to use my body with the strength I remember rather than the strength I have.

Brad has long encouraged me on this front. I’ll tell him I’m going to take a nap, and he’ll say, “You’re awesome. That’s a great decision; I’m so glad you are taking care of yourself.” It really makes a difference in proactively caring for myself rather than reactively caring for myself.

On Tuesday I went to a local high school and was a speaker during their chapel time. I did a talk at the same school last year and they gave me a really warm response both times. I really love high school students, and these kids are special. I also feel like adolescence is such a challenging time in life, and I feel good to be able to pass on some of the strategies that have helped me in hard times. Also a personal win for me is that I have had some coaching over the past year when it comes to speaking and I felt much more equipped as I was preparing my talk. I enjoy it, and I’m grateful.

Brad surprised me by coming to the talk, and then taking me out for a lunch date afterwards. It was great of him to make it happen, and we both really enjoyed our mini-date. Last weekend I was out of town at a retreat after him being gone on a (rare) work trip all last week, so it was good to reconnect and have more-than-just-logistics good conversation. It’s our busy activity season of the year with Brad coaching Greta’s volleyball team, and Maren playing on two teams. We all love time in the gym so it’s a win, but it’s busy for us.

It’s been gorgeous spring weather. Yesterday I inhaled my first lilacs of the season and I made my family come over to smell them too. Watching their faces light up with delight was fun; this wasn’t just another mama whim for them to indulge — lilacs really are that incredible. We’re filling as many hours as possible with outside time and I love seeing my pink-cheeked girls after good old-fashioned playtime. Greta has an extravagant dream of building a clubhouse outside where she can do art and construction projects, and I’m going to hate to break it to her that it’s not something we can pull off. We would love to indulge such a wonderful vision from a 7-year-old. She charges around the house building things out of her toolbox and recycle bin all the time, and its fun to see her creative ambition at work.

Last week Greta had a volleyball game with her Purple Power team, and I drove her to the elementary school. As we pull in she pipes up from the backseat, “Mom! This is the wrong school!” Sure enough, I auto-piloted to the wrong one. I quickly reversed out and made the six minute drive to the intended school, only to drop Greta at the door and have her report that her team is not here, either. Good grief, I pulled up the schedule and realized I had read it wrong; we then drove off to the third school of the night (ironically, the school closest to our house!) After all my driving mishaps, she missed the check in for the first game which means she can’t play. Bless her little heart as she sat on the team bench trying unsuccessfully to hold back her tears as her teammates rotated in and she sat and watched. This was a pretty big mama oops. She had a great second game, and after the match ended I got down on my knees and apologized to her and she was so gracious giving me a big hug and telling me, “Don’t worry Mama, I still got to play.” Golly, getting that kind of forgiveness from my G was such a gift of mercy, especially knowing how disappointed she was.

Today the kids are off school for a four day weekend and Maren took the time to do double French braids in her hair and play Lego all morning. Brad’s parents arrive and we are looking forward to some good family time. Hallelujah!


  1. Liz Gruber /

    Happy Easter to you and your family. Thanks for inspiring me to do today well and be present with my family.

  2. Roslyn Mathie /

    Great update. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Marlayne /


  4. Kim rourke /

    Thank you for going to the WRONG place! My mom did it, I did it (and still do w the grands), and surely your kids will one day do the same.
    So glad you had the opportunity to speak at the high school. You are an inspiration! Happy Easter to you and your, and keep taking those naps!

  5. Aunt Annie /

    You continue to inspire us all! Love you, Brad and the girls! Enjoy your Easter with the in-laws!

  6. Fran Brock /

    Jen thank you for the update.. I so look forward to your updates.
    I love to read what ever you put together. I marvel at what a GREAT writer
    you are. I look forward to these writings.
    Still remembering you as the little red headed girl at Beckett.
    You are loved by so many. You have an army behind you and your family.
    Wishing you a great spring to enjoy.
    Fran Brock

  7. Maybe I’m just feeling extra tender these days, but your description of G’s not being able to play and trying so hard to be okay about it — and your own struggle with letting her down — brought tears to my eyes. These are such honest looks at parenting. Thank you for sharing them and recording them for your girls to someday look back upon and know how very much they are loved.
    Do Today Well is a phrase and concept I try to share with others. Happy Easter! Happy napping and spending time with your family!

  8. Bonnie B Jackson /

    All I can say is, The Lord’s Grace is visibly present in you!! Happy Easter Jen and to your whole precious family!!

  9. Patty Wheeler /

    Jen you are prayed for! I love reading your stories about Brad and the girls.
    You make sure as much as you can that you all are living a “normal” life as you fight your fight. Your girls are truly a precious gift as are you and Brad. I remember when Maren was born and now both girls are young ladies. I think of you, Catherine and Megan as little girls on swim team and how close you were and still are. I love the stories about your surprise visit to Australia, the first and every day of school, Megan’s surprise wedding, your treatment journey and every day in between. Your family and friends love and support you. Thank you for making us all feel part of your family. We all marvel at your strength but it is not surprising to see the wonderful woman you are. I think I was telling Kathy Roberts not long ago that it has been a privilege to watch you in the last 7 years especially as I have been able to see what a remarkable woman you have grown into. I hope when I grow up I am just like you. Wishing you and the family Happy Easter! Much love!

  10. Alexandra Mae /

    Thank you for your willingness to be vulnerable in front of 450 high school students. I know I was personally blessed by your talk. I pray that the Lord will be with you and your family.

  11. Cindy Mitchell /

    Hello Jen, loved this blog..Being a parent is hard.. What happened to all the driving you had to do, is minor..Messing up schedules is so easy to do.. At least you made it.. I may not have.. Oh and I love the smell of lilacs also…They are beautiful.