Updates [with pictures because otherwise high-probability-of-terribly-boring?]

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve sent an update. And, after this post, you may agree that there’s not a lot that’s terribly interesting or new. But, we sure do love the prayers and, if you’re anything like me, sometimes a little email or reminder is helpful toward that end. So, with due warning and thanks in advance for prayers, I share a few updates and pictures…

1. I feel pretty good. My skin is holding up (rashes and burning expected) and I’m tired most afternoons but it’s not debilitating.
2. There are 4 weeks (or 20 sessions) of radiation left!
3. Our little guy is holding up great. He stayed with Meredith on Friday night and greeted her with a big smile and started telling us “bye bye” and waving before we even got to the door. And he was all smiles again today when Hope and Mandy came to get him so I could go to the doctor. For photo entertainment, I’ve included a picture of him (and friends) from the arboretum last week and I really wish I hadn’t chosen this sweater for him because he literally ROLLED in the hay and it stuck to him like velcro. Evidence of our adventures at the arboretum remain in my car. He also tried to break into the petting zoo because his mom was too lazy to wait in line.
4. My oncologist (Dr. Osborne) and her nurse (Christina) invited me to a luncheon on Thursday with the 2 of them and a bunch of other “young” (given the average age of diagnosis is 61 with only 5% of breast cancer patients who are under 40) breast cancer peeps. And Rob Lowe. He’s still got game. He wasn’t a bad speaker either. He lost his mom and grandmother to breast cancer and is quite passionate about awareness and research.
5. Speaking of that, read this week that one out of 3 breast cancer patients dies of the disease. Sobering. I don’t expect to be one of them but just a reminder of how serious this is and how thankful I am for such great care.
6. Scott and I are prayerfully considering participating in a drug trial out of MD Anderson for first ever cancer vaccine to prevent recurrence. It’s for node-positive peeps (that’s me) with a moderate expression of Her2 (that’s me). Apparently most of y’all’s cells have something like 20,000 receptors that accelerate the growth of cancer cells and I have somewhere in range of 125000-500,000. Which is better than the women in next category up which have over 1M. And how on earth do they count that many receptors on ONE CELL?! Anyways, it would be a bit taxing for monthly trips to Houston for 6 mos (less frequently after that) but other women are participating from Wisconsin and Amarillo! I really thought it was a stretch from Dallas but was put to shame by these women who are making even greater sacrifices for future generations of breast cancer patients. And it’s very exciting to me, even moreso after the luncheon, to play a role in helping others. I sure am thankful for medicines I’ve received and women who went before me to participate in these studies. Those are the reasons to participate (including 50% chance that I’ll receive vaccination as well) but some other things to consider are care for Linc, disruption to family life, and cost of 18 trips to Houston (over the next 10 years). And how crazy is it that neither I or even the doctors involved will know if I have the vaccine or placebo?! I’m increasingly intrigued with research and it’s a long and involved process. All the details about the critera for who can participate plus the specifics of how the study is administered and all of the controls and how long it takes to get a drug to market and on and on. This is a phase 3 study (which is last phase before the public has access) and it’s been in development for something like 20-25 years!
7. How about all the pink everywhere since October is breast cancer awareness month?! It’s kind of sobering and real sweet to watch my Ags or NFL teams or Target or Tom Thumb or even the Professional Bull Riders (and, yes, I was watching a bull riding championship which is always quite fascinating with or without the pink shirts!) or anywhere else I go to be promoting breast cancer awareness and research. Speaking of … ladies, it’s time again … start rubbing, poking and prodding and go to the doctor if anything feels ‘off.’ While I’m super thankful that I detected mine when I did, it was likely growing for up to 5+ years and I wasn’t in the habit of self exams so it would have been beneficial to have found it at a pea-size instead of a marble. If I’d found it sooner I may have prevented its spread to my lymph nodes. I trust Gods absolute sovereignty over all that (and maybe if I’d found sooner we wouldn’t have had opportunity to have Lincoln?!) but I most certainly think I could have detected it sooner if I were more vigilant about exams. It’s only the Lords grace that I found it through nursing. Like some of you, I foolishly never thought it could happen to me. So, enough of my soapbox, quit reading and go check ’em out! And please call about that mammogram you’ve been meaning to schedule. And, if you find a lump or something shows up on the mammogram, it’s all good. He’s got me and He’s got you. And I’m happy to keep reminding you (and myself) of that truth as long as necessary until you, like me, experience the Lord’s kindness in rich and deep ways and all fear is driven out.
8. My hair is really coming in now. I think I’m in the process of turning in my obvious cancer-card with strangers and I’m kind of missing the oozing compassion that the world has spoiled me with. Though I laugh as I type that because when I told Alonzo (my hairdresser) that I wasn’t sure people knew I had cancer anymore, he said ‘they know, trust me, they know…’ He is also the only one (at least to my face) who hasn’t been a big fan of the short hairdo. He’s a fan of long hair – and I am years and years away from long hair! If ever! I’m loving it short. Oh so easy. Except for running because I had no idea how much sweat was caught in hair (yuck!) so now it just pours off my face when I exercise. I thought it was getting a little unruly around my ears and edges so I went to Alonzo for my first post-chemo haircut on Friday. And when we finished, he asked me to shave his head in my own honor. I was more than happy to oblige.

Here are a few pictures to add some ‘color’ to this commentary. I hope the last photo makes you laugh like it did me. Trevor, Jamie’s husband, amuses himself by digging up old yearbook pictures of me and Jamie and sending them when you least expect it. They don’t tend to be our most flattering photos. But, in this picture, my first thought was, “I believe bald is better than big …” I was (and am!) a proud FBA Saint. I was (but am no longer) proud of that hair.

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Thanks for loving us, praying for us, and reading this blog. You have no idea how much it blesses me that you care enough to read – and spare me from repeating these same things over and over and over again. Life is too short to spend all my time talking about cancer. Thanks to the blog, I don’t have to. And thanks to the Lord’s grace and y’all’s love and prayers, cancer is a small part of our world and a far greater blessing than burden.

With lots of pink, prayers, and love,

Jen

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10 thoughts on “Updates [with pictures because otherwise high-probability-of-terribly-boring?]

  1. You continue to encourage me every step of the way with your journey. The Lord truly shines through you and I love your sense of humor! He has entrusted you with much and I am grateful that even through cancer we get to see God’s goodness and love through friendships. 🙂 I count you as one of the many blessings!! I love to see the “bangs” of the 90’s….I had them too sister!

  2. Thanks for the update sister. Julie and I were encouraged by it and loved the pictures. BTW, Julie’s mom had breast cancer and by God’s grace defeated it. Please know you are in our prayers. We need to grab Jennie and grab lunch sometime! Much love in Christ, Russ

  3. Thank you for your openness! I am blessed by each blog post. Loved the pictures….and yes, your FBA Saints picture is awesome. We would love to have you come to our football game on Senior night, November 9! Love and prayers sent your way!

  4. Hi gal….Can’t believe your hair is growing in so well…..I really love the bald on you…so you,,,unique and perky!!!! Each blog reminds me more and more that I should be as dependent upon God as you. Sometimes it takes us being knocked down to realize that our life is truly in His hands. I can’t tell you how inspired I am by this walk you are all taking. Prayers and love continue from me and thank you for the blessing you are to my life!!!!

  5. Love the Saints picture! Amazing we could play so tough and still have the hair perfectly coiffed! I’m sure Coach Melton thought (still thanks) we were so silly. Praying for you! xo

  6. Jennifer – This is Frances Jenkins. Lee and I have shared a week at Horn Creek with you and your family the last two years. We are friends of Harry and Patti Reese. We have been praying for you, Scott and Lincoln since our time together in July. You are one amazing daughter of the King – so encouraging to those of us following each update and post. We count it a privledge to pray for your healing, your medical team loving and directing your through the maze, and with thanksgiving God’s provision for your needs and the needs of Scott and Lincoln. I look forward to each post as you share your heart and life-giving God and his Son GLORY always. I will be walking the Komen this Saturday in your honor – your name is listed in celebration with two others “Fighting Like A Girl”, a niece, Krista, and friend, Beverly, who are in the midst of treatment for breast cancer right now. I have discovered we have a couple of things more in common other than Horn Creek and the color pink….all things Aggie (daughter and son-in-law, Classes of 2005 and 2006) and as I was reading this post I saw a post from Susan Money. Susan and I were high school classmates (she my little sis in drill at TJ) and Susan actually was in Lee and I’s wedding 36 years ago. My Momma always says: “you better always be on your best behavior – you never know who is watching that knows someone that knows your Momma” Hugs to you and may God bless!

  7. Jen,
    I found your blog through your friend Mel and have been enjoying following your journey. Your spirit and faith have been humbling and inspiring. I also appreciate your candor and unique view of your cancer journey. I forwarded a link to your blog to my cousin who was recently diagnosed with and is being treated for breast cancer. I am hoping she also finds inspiration by your journey.
    Karen

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