It has been TEN years!

Today marks 10 years since my cancer diagnosis.

A lot of life happens in 10 years. LOTS of good, a fair share of bad…and as I sit back and reflect on it, I’m just so grateful for every bit of it.

I spent the first 6 years after being diagnosed worrying so much. I was clutching so hard to just wanting to live. Every little ache or pain would send me down the trail of panic and what ifs.

I had the biggest recurrence scare in 2018. It was a huge wake up call for me. A call for me to stop living in a state of waiting for the other shoe to fall. To stop letting the ups and downs of life affect me so much. A call to make changes so when the day comes that I leave – whether that is tomorrow or in 50 years – I will be proud of myself for having embraced and appreciated the life that God put in front of me.

“Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger.” – Hillsong United

When you think you are going to die, you realize how, in that moment, you would take ALL the stressful life moments just to stay on this side of Heaven. You would take that stressful work issue, relationship, parenting moment, etc. with gratitude, just to stay here. Being a member of the cancer club means that I have met several people who haven’t gotten the amount of bonus years I have gotten. And so every time I start to let anxiety or stress get the better of me, I remind myself that those people would have traded places with me in a heartbeat – no matter how hard things feel in that moment. 

I consider that perspective a gift. It has helped me spend the last 4 years asking myself what I need to do to feel at peace with who I am. It has made me ask myself what a life well lived looks like. It has made me a better person. 

Ten years after that terrible diagnosis, I know what is important to me. I work hard to keep those things front and center.

My faith has grown, and I have grown immensely in learning how to release control and trust. I’m better at riding the waves that life hands me, and work hard to not be too tied to the outcome of any of it because in the end, it will all work out and it will all be good. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m getting better and better with every challenge that is put in front of me.

“You let me be where I’ve been so I can be all that I am. Better for it.” – Riley Clemmons

And this growth has allowed me to see the challenges in front of me as an opportunity to become a stronger, braver, more compassionate person.

So at 10 years, I remain completely grateful. Grateful for what I’ve learned, how it has shaped me…and even more grateful that I was surrounded by so many people who have loved us through all of it. From childcare to meal trains to celebrations of milestones to prayers to just being present.

If you are one of the people who supported us in anyway during that time, please know that I am forever grateful, forever changed and constantly working on how I can pay it forward.

And to my husband – thank you for being my biggest and best cheerleader, supporter, nurse, partner and best friend through all of this turmoil and growth. I’m the luckiest that God chose you for me.

Surgery No. 12: The final ovary (and no Bob Seger)

Jenny turned 40 in Oct. 2018. This is what she looked like on her first full day of being 40.

We don’t post often anymore.

Not that cancer isn’t a part of weekly thoughts or conversation. It’s just that cancer is not the center of our schedule like is was at the end of 2012, much of 2013 and parts of 2014.

But I posted about the ovary last June. I suppose the ovary is not directly related to her breast-cancer diagnosis from 2012, but Jenny’s body is complicated and definitely compromised since that day. Every decision — from the non-oophorectomy in 2014 to the hysterectomy in late 2016 to the scope in 2018 — is related to the original diagnosis in 2012. It’s been a long road.

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Surgery No. 11: The scope and the good news

I didn’t get a photo of Jenny waiting for surgery today like I normally do. But this is how she looked … just like she looked on April 13 at the Tenaciously Teal fund-raiser. She looked graceful and strong, like always.

Jenny posted this weekend about the ovary and the cyst and the pain and the scope. So here we are at OU Medical Center early on Monday morning to find out what’s going on.

As Jenny wrote, we are praying for a good outcome in this scope — whatever that means today. There are varying degrees of good outcomes in this case. It means no cancer. It means keeping the ovary. It means finding the source of the pain she’s been dealing with every few months for the last 8 months.

Most of all, it means no cancer. 

Any other outcome would be just another thing for Jenny to deal with.

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Cancer roller coaster

I last posted a little over a year ago about what it feels like to be on the the “other side” of cancer.

“Every single ailment you have – a headache, a weird pain close to the cancer site, a dizzy spell – you immediately go to a recurrence in your head.”

Last fall, I had a really bad pain in my left side which, after a trip to the ER thinking I had a kidney stone, turned out to be a rupturing cyst on my one and only remaining ovary. A couple months later, it happened again, then again. Continue reading

The weird feeling on the ‘other side’ of this fight

Jenny at the Tenaciously Teal event in Oklahoma City on April 28, 2017. PHOTO: Charlie Neuenschwander Instagram:

Jenny is always beautiful. But she, along with 12 other women, shined especially bright on April 28.

Jenny participated in a fund-raising fashion show event for Tenaciously Teal — Carepacks and Cocktails. It was an outstanding event, and we were blessed to be joined by family and friends there to support one of the stars.

Jenny doesn’t like the spotlight, so she was uncomfortable with all the attention, but I think she had fun (see the professional photo — please click to enlarge that photo!).

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The saga continues…

So, if you will remember that in my update blog a couple weeks ago, I talked about not being able to breathe on Day 1, 2 and 3. After that, I wound up with this dry cough that would never become productive. I thought I might have caught a virus or something.

Two and a half weeks after my surgery, that cough was still there and becoming more and more pesky. I couldn’t get through sentences without coughing, and the cough would sneak up on me so covering my mouth was near impossible. After spending a day in meetings coughing all over everyone, I decided to see if my family doctor could give me a cough suppressant or a steroid…or something so people wouldn’t think I was coughing flu germs all over them!

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