A (positive) hot mess

Jun 03

Today I went and got a massage to try to get some relief for my back spasms. At the beginning of the session, I had to give an abbreviated medical history so the therapist had a pretty solid download of what’s going on with my body. At the end of the massage, she had the nerve to look me in the eye and tell me that my back, “would be a lot better off if I would incorporate some daily rigorous strength training to combat my overall weakness.” Her comment was at best insensitive and ignorant.

Gotta say, it was one of the most demoralizing moments I’ve had in a while.

And because I don’t let people dictate how I feel, I was a lot closer to power-flicking her in the forehead than I was internalizing that bull-honky.

And it also reminded me how good it is to be known, and that the reason I make effort both in person and in writing to be authentic is so that I can be known.

I haven’t wanted to update because I’ve been really, really bone tired, and when I list everything I have going on physically it sounds pretty glum. However, I’m going to give a bullet point physical update for efficiency’s sake because I know you all are wondering.

  • During the month of April and the start of May, I had a pretty significant decline with my cough worsening and we began to talk about breathing issues.
  • I broke more ribs coughing. And then pulled muscles trying to protect my broken ribs when I coughed.
  • During the month of May, I had ten radiation treatments which — given the statement above — were optimally timed.
  • Radiation is done and I have gained back some small measure of breath. This is a huge win! Radiation effects (both the good and the bad) can continue for up to three months.
    • The Good: The effect of the radiation treatment can continue to shrink the cancer in my chest, freeing up my airways for more breath, better inflated lungs, and less obstruction causing coughing. I’m praying for more gains with my lungs as the days and weeks go by.
    • The Bad:
      • The fatigue is intense. I can’t sleep enough to feel rested, and my body just feels zapped all the time. I don’t feel well.
      • Because the treatments targeted my airways, my esophagus was in the field and the net result of that is that it is burned. It’s essentially an open scab down the length of my esophagus, making eating and drinking somewhere between painful and excruciating.
      • My skin and chest muscles took a lot with radiation also, and it is contributing to the muscular back spasms.
  • Chemo continues. Today was my “off Monday” of my two weeks on, one week off cycle. Fatigue (haha), weakness, and nausea are my main symptoms on this chemo.
  • I get the Neulasta shot on week two of the cycle, so my bone marrow is currently cranking out lots of white blood cells to boost my immune system back up. My bones hurt and pulse.
  • Back muscle spasms. I’m not sure what the causative issue is — it’s probably a whole lot of things, but holy cow I don’t know what to do to try to get some relief. The space between my left shoulder blade and my spine is the worst.
  • Did I mention fatigue? The weakness and exhaustion are, well, exhausting.

So. Ha! How’s that for a hot mess? This is a crucible week with all of these variables coming together; I’m hoping for improvement, but expecting it to be slow.

To be honest, I do kind of feel like a hot mess. I am doing okay with it because I am just doing whatever I want to do in that moment or hour, and I’m so grateful that my life and family afford me that margin. My days are filed with a lot of resting, sleeping, napping, lying down. I have a litany of tools at my disposal to combat the problems bulleted above, so I am scheming and strategizing about how to effectively mitigate my issues. I find being on my computer and conversation are very taxing. I have been pretty isolated now that the school rigmarole is over. (And that’s okay, I don’t have stamina to see people right now.) Brad and Maren are on a week-long trip together, and Greta is at a day camp this week.

Quiet days ahead are what I need. I was supposed to purge and reboot Maren’s bedroom for her (her birthday request) while she is away, but I’m holding all of my obligations open-handed at this point.

I’m content in my mind and fighting the good fight to stay positive. I love my life and am happy to fight to be the best version of myself, even if it is a (positive) hot mess.


  1. Karin Eppert /

    Sweet friend, I love that you fight to be the best Jen you can be. I love that you also know how to rest and take care of yourself so that you can do just that. You are loved. ❤️

  2. Michelle /

    Jen, keep resting. If you want help with a reboot of the room —-let me know. And, are you able to do a float at the Tao Float Loft?

  3. Heide Moser /

    Jen, if you want a massage with someone who is caring (she will even use healing crystals if that’s what your body, not your voice, is telling her to do)….reach out to me and I will give you her contact info. I went to Barb every Monday before my Thursday chemo treatments. I believe that the massage prepared my body to maximize the effects of the chemo drugs. You are without a doubt one of the bravest people I have ever met. Sending hugs…I know you would LOVE a zen healing massage from Barb.

  4. Michelle Powell /


  5. Lisa Marker Robbins /

    Rest sounds like the perfect way to fight right now. Sending ❤️ ? ??

  6. Dian /

    Home Alone is not necessarily lonely and I pray for your oh so calm spirit to rejoice in self and healing. Your travails put you a top of my prayer list and may knowing that so many are pulling for you lift you at your worst moments. Soldier on – you take us with you in your so positive outpourings.

  7. Kim Rourke /

    Rest well you beautiful hot mess!!

  8. Christin /

    “I was a lot closer to power-flicking her in the forehead than I was internalizing that bull-honky.” BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Omg, that one got me in the gut!!!! I was so angry at her that I could just feeeeeel that power-flick! You are the best. The best!

    Your list of symptoms wasn’t quite as humorous, but I’ll accept it! 🙂 I am very thankful the radiation has had effects, and so thankful that it may keep showing improvement of breathing. Lots of praying happening over here. Love you!

  9. Dave /

    Praying, praying, praying! Rest, peace, strength. 50.

  10. Cindy Jones /

    You may feel weak but you are one of the strongest people I know. When I am weak I am strong!

  11. Katie /

    I am so very proud of you. I am proud that you know not to internalize stupid comments from people who don’t know a thing about you or your situation. I am proud of you for being SO brave to fight this fight with all you have. I am proud of you for knowing that sometimes fighting looks like resting. I am proud of you for being open and vulnerable and known by those who love you most. I am so proud to be considered a friend of yours….you are amazing!

  12. Rebecca /

    Sending lots of love your way. ❤️

  13. Bonnie B Jackson /

    When we Are weak HE is indeed strong!! Praying for your Strength of Heart, Mind and Spirit!! Love you Jen!! When I SEE you I see God’s Strength and Joy oozing from you,…., Yes I Do??. Rest well today Jen…

  14. Newbie friend /

    “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”- praying for your continued strength, love you Jen.

  15. Sweet Jen, how I wish I could relieve you of some of your pain and fatigue. I hope you can feel how very loved you are. ❤️

  16. Peggy /

    Jen, I can only imagine how emotionally spent you are trying to remain “strong”. Sometimes there’s nothing more therapeutic than a good cry. Allow yourself that luxury. Tears can be healing. Someone suggested floating, which sounds like it could definitely help you. Or maybe you could get to a beach…warm sand could be relaxing. I honestly wish I could take on your pain, so you can have a rest from it, but all I can do is send healing prayers your way. Know that you’re always in my thoughts.

  17. Dotti /


  18. Darcy Childress /

    Always wishing I could physically DO something for you but sending you love and thinking about you more than you know! XO

  19. kim /

    So sorry, people can be so insensitive. Power flick for sure! Praying for God to surround you in his loving arms as you rest. I find music quite helpful. For king and country, burn the ships, is currently one of my favorites.

  20. Tiffany Wellinghoff /

    Loving and praying you through this season! ? What’s the address? I will follow through on the power flick! ?

  21. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, I am sorry that your experience with your massage was ruined by such an insensitive person..My prayers are with you to , feel better and have healing… You are such an amazing, powerful , strong beautiful ,and a Hot Mess woman.. You have gone through so much with this cancer , you carry so much more class than anyone I know. Your positivity and strength will get you through this.. Sending you hugs and enjoy your week…

  22. Emily Smith /

    Love to you Jen. Keep resting! You fight as you rest. I read this post of yours the other day and it just keeps coming to my mind . . . I am thinking of you and praying for you multiple times a day. Thanks so much for writing. Your writing is a mighty gift to the world!!!

  23. Today I prayed that God would help be do today well–which I learned from you, and thus I thought of you and was reminded to check your blog today. I hope that your days of quiet solitude were helpful to you. I’m praying for you and your family today!