A pivot point

Oct 25

Yesterday Dr. Wonderful stepped in to the exam room where Brad and I were waiting.  He looked me right in the eye and said with feeling, “How are you feeling?”

“Not well,” I answered with a grimace, “I called your team on Tuesday morning because I decided I was done white-knuckling and I need some interventions. I’m hurting.”

He nodded and waved the fresh-off-the-presses PET scan report he held in his hand, “That’s what this shows,” he said as he took his seat.

“It’s a mess?”

He looked at me again with compassion and said, “Yes, it’s a mess,” and I knew it was because he doesn’t often use non-specific medical terms. He handed me a printed copy and I set it to the side because I like hearing things from my expert and also cancer-filled PET scan reports are an odd combination of nauseating and clinical to read.

“Where is your pain?”

“It’s in my belly,” I gesture to the upper-abdominal region.

“That makes sense because cancer is enlarged in your abdominal lymph nodes, progressed in your lungs, in your peritoneal cavity, your liver and also your bones.”

OOOoooof.  Brad and both took deep breaths at that point. Words are inadequate.

Dr. Cody is doing a litany of things to work against the cancer: his team is working to get an immunotherapy trial drug through the insurance process (unlikely), and then on to compassionate use (hit or miss), then potential out-of-pocket consideration (hmmmm). He thinks chemotherapy is a bad idea for my body at this time for a couple of reasons, one of which is that the drugs that are left in the chemotherapies-that-Jen-hasn’t-tried-yet bucket are very, very, very nasty ones with side effect lists a mile long.  I will start a drug to strengthen my bones, and another one to stimulate my appetite. I’m also getting flu and pneumonia shots.  (If you plan on being around me, you need to get a flu shot too. Regardless, I’m not going to be hugging anyone because of infection risk.) And hopefully this immunotherapy drug will make its way to me and do amazing things.

The interventions I requested on Tuesday that triggered all the testing are happening too: Dr. Wonderful says that I should start using the oxygen machine and tanks that have been sitting idle at my house since May. (I’m stubborn.) Even if I’m not consciously short-of-breath when I’m resting it is likely that my body could benefit in the form of energy from being fully oxygenated as often as possible.  Wearing oxygen full time — or close to full time (I am still a rebel after all) — is going to be an adjustment, but I’m sure I will acclimate.  I also got full license to take any pain meds I want with the promise that more good meds are available as needed.  That’s the win for the week, as it has made a difference in my functionality and being present for my family in just the past twenty-four hours.

The win for the day is that my brain MRI (ordered due to my increasingly intense nausea) is clear.  There is no cancer in my brain.  I paused near the end the meeting with Brad and Dr. Wonderful and said with a big grin and an ironic chuckle, “Can we still take moment to celebrate the clean brain MRI?”

Dr. Wonderful gets me, so he chuckled back, and said, “Yes, we can definitely still count that as a win.  It’s a very, very good thing we don’t have to contend with that on top of everything else.”

This is a pivot point in our world for sure.  We’re making micro and macro life adjustments.  There is still no certainty on the road ahead; there hasn’t been for a long time for us.  It’s incredibly tough on us and for the people who love us most.  I’m worried about my people in all the various circles: if you love them too, please step in and love them hard and big.  They probably won’t ask and could try to deny you, but please do it anyway.

Everyone is asking me, “What do you want?”

That’s the brutal brilliance of the life I’ve worked really hard to build with my beloved people:

I love my life.  I just want to keep living my bright and beautiful life.  Being the best version of Jen as God created me to be, Brad’s devoted wife, mother to my girls: these are the desires of my heart. I have everything I want and so much more than I deserve.  I don’t need anything at all.

Please remember to consider our kids and all little ears around as you talk to each other.  We told our girls the whole truth and it was a hard day for our family, so we subsequently had ice cream for dinner.  Then we went to Greta’s volleyball game together and sat with our people and did life.  If you see us out, please focus the life-living we’re actively doing in that moment and cheer us on if you want to; please don’t draw attention to the burdens that we have no doubt worked hard to put aside in that moment.

Thank you for your love, support and prayers.


  1. Rebecca Schaff /

    Sending you and your people all of my love. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Patty Wheeler /

    Jen you are the most AMAZING woman! I am not usually speechless but I am not just because of what I just read but because you have taught me what grace, courage, hope and love are every time I read your journey. You are fighting, Brad is fighting and Maren and Greta are just loving. You are an inspiration.

  3. Lisa Smith /

    I wish I was there to love you all big and hard. Love from California.

    • Elisa Dailey /

      We will continue our prayers for you and your family!
      You are loved beyond measure!❤️

  4. Big, hard love and many prayers from Seattle.

  5. Sheila /

    Jen, I’ve been reading your blog for years. I’m not even quite sure how I actually found you, but you’ve made such an impression in my heart. I’ve prayed for you and your family, read your words with love in my heart, and even purchased a “happy thought bubble” from your sister. There is something about the live and honesty in your writing that has drawn me in. My prayers are with you!

  6. Michelle /

    I love you Jen! I love you are forever focusing on the positives- yay for a clean brain MRI! I hope you continue to feel better with your pain meds and oxygen. I will pray that the insurance will cover the immunotherapy (I Wish they could read this blog- they couldn’t say no!) and of course continue to pray for you and your family.

  7. Tricia Ethier /

    Jen, the strength that you and your people exhibit in living life in every moment is inspiring. Know that you and your family are loved by our village and we are here for any needed distractions. The Halloween demons may be creeping, but you and your people are ready to kick some ass. We are right there with you. Love to you all.

  8. KellyE /

    Praying for you and your family!

    • Newbie friend /

      Sending my love, support and prayers. You are the best at teaching all of us how to do today well. Thank you my friend!

  9. Wendy Tobin /

    Jen, all I got is big love for you and yours. Thank you for updating and being so articulate with your wants and needs. Praying for all.

  10. Christin /

    You bring me to tears AND laughter. I totally chuckled at the no cancer in the brain comment. Your steadfastness and desire to soak in each moment humble and teach me.
    I love you.

  11. Jaime Denning /

    I was just thinking about you today! Love to you and your family, Jen!

  12. Lisa Marker Robbins /

    Jen- you are amazing. A fighter. A warrior mom and wife. A testimony for Jesus. Thank you for inspiring us to live for today, for our peeps. ❤️ Praying for you all.

  13. Eloise /

    Love you big and hard. Love our entire family with all my heart

  14. Shonda /

    Unstoppable strength that I recognize from knowing your mother. I pray for healing and comfort. You truly set the bar so dang high. Your words ignite the passion for life and everything in it. I know we are all on our journey as individuals who simply do not know what tomorrow has in store. I kinda like not knowing because even doctors are impressed daily by miracles. I love that.

  15. Jen Powers /

    No words for the LOVE I have for you in this moment. Huge crazy God sized love and admiration. And no doubt with the way the faith and hope and gratitude muscle you are flexing now right in this exact moment that the Abba Father is shouting atta girl to you way louder. What a ridiculous honor it is to know you, be known by you, love you and be loved by you.

  16. 🙏🏻

  17. Lorrie /

    I’m praying. “Heavenly Father, your daughter is in trouble. She needs your help. You are a loving, generous and powerful Father. Send your power to Jen. Give her supernatural ability to fight this enemy, who threatens to steal, kill and destroy. Defeat this cancer, heal Jen and restore her to perfect health. Give her peace. Give peace to her husband and children. Surrounds her with angels to watch over her. I stand in the gap in prayer, believing that you hear our prayers. I pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.”

    Lorrie Hansen
    Jason & Kate’s prayer warrior

  18. Praying for you and all of your loved ones. Sending you a big but gentle hug from New Mexico.

  19. Bonnie Jackson /

    There are NO words only Love and Support!! Love that there’s a No cancer brain scan 😀😀… You are so dear to me and your testimony is Amazing!! Doing today Well because that’s what we do…. For You!! With the Lord’s Strength!!

  20. Conni Carlson /

    Continued prayers, my friend! 💝

  21. Jen my heart is so full of love and admiration for you and your amazing husband. I am so sorry for this day, sending my love from Australia.

  22. Amber Hahn /

    So let me celebrate you and Brad in a unique way. I have always loved the Bell we all got at your wedding. Morgan loves it too now. For her birthday it cooled her angel food cake upside down perfectly. So wings and cake for angels every time that bell rings!!!

  23. Aunt Annie /

    You and Brad are incredibly strong. What a powerful example you both are of what LOVE, FAITH and HOPE truly mean. Jesus, I pray you intervene with a miraculous healing for dear Jen and bring peace to her village. Amen🙏🏽

  24. Marion /

    Oh Jen, sending love and compassion to you from across town and intense prayers up to our Father. You and your beautiful family are being prayed for this very moment. 💗

  25. Much love, Jen. I am so sorry for the news. 😞 Keep being the best Jen you can be. Praying for you!

  26. Donna Meade /

    Sending all the love, prayers and hugs to you and your sweet family.

  27. Valerie Weiss /

    My heart is full of prayers for you and your family Jen. May you all feel buoyed by the love that surrounds you and the caring thoughts coming to you from afar.

  28. Praying in VA. Love, Kay

  29. I’ve followed your story from afar. I’m sorry to read the latest update, but continue to be inspired and awed by your grace. Your love for your beautiful family shines in every post you share. Best wishes to you all.

  30. Melanie /

    Love you, stranger friend. Prayers ascending.

  31. Jennifer /

    Your bright and beautiful life has touched this Canadian long-time reader for many years now. Thank you for the teaching to ‘do today well’ & for sharing it with those near and far, I hold it dear to my heart. Sending so much love, prayers and wishes to you and your clan.

  32. Always praying for you, Brad and your girls! You all are an amazing family, I’m in awe. You’ve inspired me to see things differently. Thank you. Much love to you all, Jill

  33. amanda bauer /

    lots of love and virtual hugs to you 💙

  34. Kathi Roth /

    Jen it’s early – writing from Maryland. Attending the 5th wedding in my family this year. So if I posted twice I’m sorry. Trying not to disturb others😳 with lights on . Sending hugs a gigantic hug to the whole family. Will not stop praying, pleading on your behalf. I’m beyond blessed to know you, and to watch faith, courage and grace in action. You are a blessing ❤️

  35. Melissa /

    I’ve been living with ovarian cancer for 8 and a half years so I, unfortunately, can relate to some of these conversations. I am so sorry you’re having to have them. I am sure your doctor has thought of this, but my cancer clinic has an oncology pain and symptom management center. Their whole job is to help me live my best life in the midst of never ending chemo and treatment. I resisted for a long time, but they have been so compassionate and wonderful. Praying for you!

  36. Patricia Latessa /

    Sending love for comfortable days and peaceful nights. BTW Dr. Wonderful is my physician too. We always find something to laugh at even in the most difficult conversations. Love you, Mrs. / Ersa

  37. Michele Reitman /

    Jen, sending love & warm gentle hugs down the miles to you! Prayers for comfort with the new meds! Love, Jim & Michele & Family

  38. Kelly Burns /

    Big hugs to you and your family, Jen!! Love you lots!! ❤️

  39. Amy Saxby /

    Jen. Praying for you. Praying. Love your outlook on life, such an inspiration.

    • Carol Trier /

      I have read your blog for a long time since I found you through Glennon. You inspire me daily to consider that problems that may crop up during a day or things that do not go right are not really problems. I do my best to do my days well and love my people. Meanwhile I pray for you and your family often. Keep being awesome!

  40. Krista /

    Continued prayers and grace for you and for those you love, from a long time reader and prayer from afar. ❤️

  41. Karin Eppert /

    Oh dear friend….. praying for you to live today well. Cheering you on and trusting Him to give you and your family exactly what you need each moment of each day. You are glorifying Him with every word you share. You are well loved.

  42. Jennifer Renk /

    Jen, dear friend, you have always showed me how to love big! I am sending you and your family much love and prayers. I am always here for you!

  43. Sara Kerr /

    I’ve been following you for years and am in constant awe of your positive attitude and outlook. You are such an inspiration. I’m sending lots of prayers from Ottawa, Canada.

  44. Jen, I continue to pray for you and your sweet family…the entire Anderson~ Mathie family. And I’m sending as much positive, healing energy as I can. I’ve also asked my angels to surround you and give you strength. Even with the tough news, you still chose to concentrate on the clear MRI, had ice cream for dessert and watched Greta play volleyball! You are such an inspiration. Love you girl!

  45. Lori6NV /

    You. Are. Amazing. Hugs and prayers.

  46. Love you dearly. Praying for you constantly. You are a gift.

  47. Robyn Malcomb /

    Praying furiously from California.

  48. I have come here for your wisdom and insight about life since the day your blog was announced on Momastery, many years ago. You have taught and are teaching and will continue to teach me (and so many others!) so much about parenting, about faith, about seeing those around us for who they really are and the moment we are in for the unique wonders it offers us.

    You are in my prayers. Peace be with you as you do each of these days well.

  49. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, You are just as wonderful and Dr. Wonderful.. You have lifted so many of us in spirit.. You have most certainly has taught and showed us all to Do Today Well… My heart, thoughts and prayers continue for you and your family… You are such a strong woman and handling this with so much braveness, love and courage ..Take care and I am sending you gentle loving hugs..

  50. Michelle S /

    You inspire, Jen, as only you can, and you manage to provide balm for so many souls. Continual prayers for miraculous healing, for strength, for peace.

  51. B R A V E. . . . .You are an amazing mom, wife, and women. I will continue to pray for you, Maren, Greta, and Brad! Your family is precious and have all touched our souls.

  52. Miriam Koreen /

    Dear Jen, I too have been following you from afar since your diagnosis. You are truly an inspiration and I have thought of you often these past years whenever I need perspective (which is often). I wait for your posts and worry when too much time has gone by. You are in my thoughts and prayers daily – I wish you restored health and the gift of time (quality and quantity) with your precious family.

  53. MaryJane Watson /

    Hi Jen. Sending you peace and joy in the days forward. I commend you for being clear on what you expect of others and asking for it.