Cancer is a word, not a sentence.
Hi! My name is Jenny. I have been married to my best friend for 32 years, I have two wonderful children and on June 30, 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am determined to get well and I know that with the strength my Lord provides and the love and support of my family and friends, that will happen. The road to healing is a difficult one… however I strive to be thankful for the blessings I have, to find joy in every day and maybe in some small way be a blessing to those I come in contact with. The support and encouragement that I find on this blog makes my heart smile and helps me to realize that I am not alone. All of you are so much appreciated and help me more than you will ever know. So thanks for stopping by....if you would like please leave a comment after my post....I would love to hear from you.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Four simple letters that together make one small word. HOPE. Four simple letters that make one small word that has a powerful impact on everyone.
HOPE. A beautiful, wonderful gift from our Lord.
HOPE.....sometimes it is all you have left at the end of the day and do you know....if you have HOPE at the end of the day....then you have everything!
Hope. I think about that word a lot lately.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer Scott and I were out running some errands. You know....the fun kind....grocery shopping....the library ( so I had some reading material while I recuperated...grins...and picking up what our family would need to get us through the next few days. I was getting ready to have my port surgery and I knew I wouldn't have the energy to do this for a while, so I was trying to stay ahead of it all. On our way to our car we passed a little tiny shop that has been there for years. I love to look in the window and that day was no different. The only thing that was different was that a little bear in a little jean dress was looking back at me. She had "the look" and her little face went right to my heart. I know this sounds crazy but tears filled my eyes when I saw this little lady and so before I knew what was happening Scott was in the store and purchasing my tiny little friend. She is so small she fits in my hand, she is easy to hold and fits nicely in my purse. Do you know what else she fits nicely on. The little table next to my chemotherapy chair. She keeps me company while I am having my treatment, she makes me smile when there might not be a lot to smile about and she gives me something to hold on to when I need that little extra something. I named her Hope...because everyone needs a little HOPE to carry with them. Little did I know how much that little statement would inspire our family.
I needed a wig! Okay I needed a wig bad! I had tried to find a wig before I lost my hair but that doesn't work very well. I found that out the hard way....because after I lost my hair the wig that I had....was not right. In fact it really didn't look right on me and was good for quite a few laughs. I needed help and I needed help fast. Who do I call on for fashion advice? Who do I trust when I need to know that something is really right? Who else but my daughter Emily. She has wonderful taste and I can always count on her to find just the right something.....and this "something" was a wig for her mom! Before I go on with my little story there is something you should all know about my daughter. She knows how much I dreaded loosing my hair. She knew how afraid I was about loosing my identity. Most important of all is she knows how much the mother-daughter thing means to me. One day when we were talking about a wig for me she asked what color wig I was going to get. She reasoned that now was my chance to try something new, now was my chance to be anything I wanted to be. She went one step further however. She promised me that if I found a wig in a different color other then blonde she would color her hair to match so that we would still look like mother and daughter. You guessed it.... I cried! Anyway off we went to look for a wig!
We went to Michelle's Place first. Michelle's Place is a wonderful place to be if you are fighting Breast Cancer. They have so much information, so much support and everything you could possibly need while fighting this horrible disease. We started looking at wigs. While we were there another woman was looking for a wig as well. She was with her daughter also. Emily and I were laughing along with the lady that was helping us. This woman was having a hard time. She was sad, she needed something to make her feel a little bit better from the effects of cancer. We started talking. We started sharing some things about how chemotherapy affects us. We started to laugh and together we found a wig that fit her perfectly and made her smile. Here were two women that were facing the same thing, we both were without hair, food and water tasted different, our skin was dry but that day as we hugged good-by I realized that we both left with something important. HOPE! Hope that this journey would one day be over, hope that we would have many more years shopping with our daughters and hope that someday we would meet again cancer free. As I left Michelle's Place that day and shared with Scott my experience and feelings on hope he decided to make something for Michelle's Place so that all who enter there can leave with just a little hope to hang on to. This is what he designed. I love it! It now sits proudly in the reception area of Michelle's Place. The pink bear makes people smile when they see her swinging there and the little notes in the tray? Little messages of hope all hand written by Emily.....so that her mom's feelings of "everyone needs a little HOPE to carry with them" can be realized in this simple way.
H.O.P.E. Four little letters that make a small word that has so much impact! Hope! I have my little bear Hope that makes me smile but the truth is my real hope is in my Lord. This journey is not an easy one and it requires patience and courage every day. Some days are good but others aren't and on those days I remember that the eyes of the Lord are on those who hope in Him and His love!
H.O.P.E. It is something that I receive from all of you everyday. Your thoughts, prayers, emails and words of encouragement bring me hope and joy! Tomorrow is another chemotherapy treatment. I have HOPE that maybe it will be easier this time....but either way I will get through it because I have hope and love and so therefore I have everything!
I'll write again soon.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Every day in our house a game is played. Sometimes we play it in the morning, sometimes we play it in the afternoon but usually the game is played late in the afternoon. Whoever is home at the time takes part in it.....as you probably have guessed I play it every day because I am usually home now. The game is called "What sounds good to mom for dinner?"
When a person in undergoing chemotherapy the simple job of eating and drinking become more of a difficult task for a number of different reasons. For me it is because while the chemotherapy is killing off the cancer cells it is also killing off the good cells, some of which help me to want to eat and drink. The first few days are the worst but it usually takes me about a week and a half after treatment to really want to eat. Sometimes a person finds they can only eat a few things and therefore eat the same things over and over again. My taste is really off....so the things I once loved like chocolate....No way....doesn't taste the same....water....nope,not that either....it tastes terrible....sighs....So therefore I must become creative and find new things to eat and drink.
I have been talking to others who have undergone this treatment and one person lived on ice cream for a week! I can go for that....grins....
One person lived on peanut butter toast and peanut butter cups for a while. Not a bad idea....winks
What about me you might ask? Well let me tell you... it happened like this........
One night we were all at home and playing our "game." Everyone had great ideas....pasta, soup, chicken, you name it is was suggested. It all sounded good to everyone else but there was no way it sounded good to me. I was trying, really I was and I knew my family was concerned because I have to eat to get through this and I also have to have protein.....Scott, bless his heart, said " Jenny, just think for a minute and see if anything sounds good" so I did and all of a sudden I had to have an In and Out hamburger. I had to have it RIGHT NOW! The look of shock crossed my family's faces and before I could change my mind Scott and Andrew were out the door, in the car, and heading for the drive through! They were home in record time with 4 hamburgers (one for each of us) and we all sat down to eat and before they knew what happened my hamburger was GONE....absolutely gone! Little did we know that that was only the beginning.....the only meat I could eat was in an In and Out hamburger! I was worried....I was scared....this is NOT Jenny! Jenny loves to cook and has made dinner for this family for as long as we have been married (31 years if you are asking...grins...). Even though I cannot cook right now Scott and the kids have stepped up to the plate...no pun intended... and make wonderful meals.....healthy meals filled with everything I need and then some. AND I WANT FAST FOOD! What has happened to me? On my next visit to my oncologist he asked how I was eating and I told him what was happening. He burst out laughing as did his nurse by the way and assured me I was fine and told me to eat whatever I could eat...JUST EAT! This is the only time he will ever tell me that so I better take him up on it now! So I did and then I had my second round of chemotherapy and started all over again only this time instead of In and Out all I want are shredded beef tacos! Really? Is this happening again? I know it is the chemicals in my body that are making me react this way and everyone has assured me that when Chemo is finished I will go back to my regular way of eating but honestly!
So tonight the game began again...."What sounds good to mom for dinner tonight?" I know everyone expected me to say " You fix whatever sounds good to you guys, I'll just have a taco." Right? No way....tonight I wanted a family favorite, a home cooked meal....rice meatballs! It is good to know that I can still make them laugh, that we can still find humor among all this craziness, that we still are a family and we can find the joy of just cooking dinner together and spending time together in simple ways. We are fighting this battle together and I am forever grateful!
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
When I was a little girl I had a stuffed lion that I loved very much. I called him Leo the Lion but in actuality I think his name was Larry the Lion....grins....He was my friend and I remember playing with him all the time, carrying him around, taking him on rides in the car and pulling his string to listen to him talk. He would roar and say fun phrases like " I will protect you " and " I am a very,very,very brave lion. " One day his string broke and he could no longer talk to me but that did not matter, he was still Leo and I loved him. However my mom and dad felt he could be fixed so Leo was packaged up and sent to the "hospital" so the "doctors" could make him well again. Every day I waited for our mailman to bring Leo home to me and finally after a VERY LONG wait he did. I remember opening the box and there was Leo all ready to play. I pulled his string and out came " I am a very, very, very brave lion. " To this day remembering Leo still makes me smile. Some days I really need something to smile about.
I have started my battle against cancer. When a person is fighting cancer there are so many things that need to be done. There are so many things that a person needs. For me personally I find that I need a strong determination, a positive attitude, strength even when I don't feel like it, love and support from family and friends, acceptance mostly by me because some days I don't feel like Jenny anymore, and I don't look like Jenny anymore either. However the one thing I need more then anything else is COURAGE.
I have needed courage everyday since I was diagnosed with cancer. Courage to have all the tests done and to hear the results. Courage to meet my team of doctors, courage to talk about surgery, courage to walk into Loma Linda Hospital to have my port-a-cath put in so I could have chemotherapy, courage to handle and deal with my extreme shoulder pain after surgery and courage to accept all the things I could not do because of it. Courage to put off chemotherapy because there are so many possible complications during chemo and I had to have a second surgery to redirect my port so I could have the use of my arm back and then finally the courage to walk into my doctors office to have my first round of chemo. I was really afraid that day....but I did it....and I have done it a second time too....and I will do it for a few months yet because I have to....because I have to make it around the bend.
So how am I doing people ask. How am I really doing? Honestly I am okay. Chemotherapy is no joke. It makes me sick for the first 3 to 4 days afterwards. I have a hard time reading and I can't watch T.V. during that time and eating and drinking.....hard, really hard, but I do it because I have to. I need a lot of courage during that time. I remember this last time I was so weak and I felt really rotten and I started to cry and I told Scott that I didn't think I could do this, I didn't think I was brave enough to do this and he just held my hand and said " Yes you can Jenny because you already are doing it !" Wow! Talk about impact! Those very words have stuck with me as I climbed out of feeling rotten and every day started to feel a little bit better. My white blood cell count has been really low so I have to have a series of shots that cause a lot of bone pain while my body is making more white blood cells, but I can do it because I already am doing it! I have to learn to manage my fatigue and accept the fact that I can't do it all anymore.....but I am still fighting cancer and I can do it because I am doing it! Courage.....oh yes I need courage! I also lost my hair less then 2 weeks ago. Okay I really needed courage then. That was a rough day and I cried... a lot! I really missed my hair and I felt that was a big piece of my identity that I lost. Courage.....and at the end of the day I could be thankful that the chemo was working. I figured if it is strong enough to kill my hair cells then it is strong enough to kill the cancer and after all that is what this is about... to beat cancer! It is only hair after all....hair today...gone tomorrow...grins...and if I have to choose to lose my hair or my life....then hands down it is my hair that will go! It will come back....any guesses as to what color?
Courage! Courage to face the facts that cancer will take some things....my hair for now and probably one breast if not two. Courage to face the days really tired but to keep going anyway! Courage because even though I don't look like Jenny right now and some days I don't feel like Jenny I am still Jenny! I am still the same woman who loves her Lord, her family and her friends. It does not matter what is on the outside....it is what is in my heart that does matter. Courage....I will have courage every day....the courage to find joy, the courage to smile and the courage to help someone else smile too!
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! That is where my courage comes from and that is why I know I will always have courage....because He will always be with me. Always!
If you are reading this blog and have already gone through chemo and radiation...you are my hero! I admire anyone who has fought cancer....the battle is hard but I look at the men, women and yes children that have done this before me and I am inspired. You are my hero. If you are just starting out on this journey don't give up! You will the find the strength and courage to continue the battle and if I can encourage you in just a small way then I am happy to do so!
Courage....to change the quote a little from my Leo the Lion...." I am a very, very, very, brave woman" and I couldn't do it without all of your thoughts and prayers and encouragement. You all hold a special place in my heart!
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
My blog.....wow! I have followed blogs for many years but I have never had one of my own. I always thought that if I started my own blog I would talk about the things I enjoy, you know, the samplers that I love to stitch, the quilts that I love to make, the knitting and crocheting that I love to do, the flowers in my garden and the birds that come to my bird feeder, and of course my family. Never did it cross my mind that I would have a blog where I would talk about Cancer....let alone my Cancer. Everything changed on that rainy Tuesday afternoon, June 30th, 2015. Like so many women out there my life is now " before Cancer" and " during treatment of Cancer." I am absolutely bound and determined to add an " after Cancer" theme as well. Just so you know....grins....
I have been asked quite often why I call my cancer journey my bend in the road. To be honest I don't know. What I do is that while I was in the doctors office trying to take in the news that I have cancer what kept going through my mind was " this is a bend in the road Jenny.....you are going to get through this, you are going to make it around the bend and it will be okay." Later after I was home and thinking about all of this and what it would mean I remembered where I first read this quote.....it is from Anne of Green Gables and it says " I don't know what lies around the bend...but I am going to believe the best does." So, when my family and I were trying to come up with a name for my blog....A Bend in the Road just seemed right because that is what this journey really is....a bend in the road, something I did not ask for and something that I was not expecting but is there none the less. This Bend cannot be avoided and I cannot go around it so I must go through it and get to the other side. I will reach the other side because around the bend is a beautiful place filled with life and love, family and friends and adventures waiting to be enjoyed. There is my husband to grow old with...lol...my children and all their accomplishments and adventures to enjoy, there are new people to meet, and old friends to remember with and all the blessings in between that my Lord will grant me everyday. Yes my friends this is my bend in the road, but it is only a bend. I think Helen Keller said it best..." A bend in the road is not the end of the road....unless you fail to make the turn." I will make that turn and the best lies around that bend.
Well, here I am....my first post on my own blog is almost finished. My journey has started but I am not alone. I have my God who walks beside me every day and upholds me all the time, I have my family who is a constant source of support and love and I have my friends who remind me often how much you are thinking about me and praying for me. I will write another post soon so all of you will know how my journey is going....but in the meantime here is a hug for all of you who have taken the time to read this and who are so important in my life...more then you will ever know!