May 29, 2017

Sacred Summer



Dear beautiful friends. Hello. I'm so sorry to have been gone so long and to return with this news. I have breast cancer. I hope you cannot imagine having to utter those words or anything similar. I wonder if in time it will become easier. I have moments where I forget, where I'm just Jen, loving my life and finding the little joys and then in a moment of surreal clarity, I recall...I have cancer. But how can this be? Haven't I struggled enough in my life? Haven't I faced and overcome more than my share of adversity in the last 46 years? How can this be true? There is some self pity, of course. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by my own life story. Often as people get to know me and hear about my life, I see the horror reflected in their eyes. But it's all I know and this too is just part of my story. I have no choice but to accept it and move through this time with as much strength as I can muster. I've had lots of practice.

I have what is called DCIS, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. It's the earliest form and I'm so thankful it was caught early, Stage 0 early, through my routine mammogram. It should have been a straight forward treatment of a lumpectomy followed by radiation. However, I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene which means I have a genetic predisposition especially for breast and ovarian cancer. This means my cancer very likely would come back so at the end of this month, I am scheduled for a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The full scope of my treatment won't be clear until after the surgery. They don't expect me to require chemo. I've learned through this process to expect the unexpected. This information means that the ovaries also have to be addressed and sooner rather than later. We are still gathering information on that piece of the puzzle. This might be a good time to tell you that I am very comfortable with the plan we have in place. I have done my due diligence on the subject. I don't buy a new microwave without doing a ton of research, so please assume I know what is best for my body. Also, please do not feel the need to share with me anything other than positive stories or encouragement. When I was recovering from the blood clot in my lung in 2015, I was constantly shocked by the number of people who felt the need to share stories of people they knew who died from a back ache that was actually a blood clot, etc. or who would say things to me like "I'm surprised you're alive". Really, truly if you don't know what to say, it's okay to say nothing.

Honestly when this first happened, I was looking ahead as the summer that cancer stole. I have since shifted my thinking and this summer I am looking forward to healing, to focusing on the quiet to come and the strength to be gained from winning a battle I never wanted to fight. I'm still here trying to find the positives, I just have to dig a little deeper for them.

I have had some very dark moments over the last month and a half, through multiple mammograms, biopsies, ultrasounds, imaging scans and so very much waiting. The waiting is the most stressful part of all of this so far. We have been hit by wave after wave of bad news and I have no idea what is still ahead but I do know this, I have the most supportive husband you can imagine, holding my hand every step of the way and so many lovely people lifting my spirits and offering help and kindness. And strength, I have that, although there are days when I feel like it has abandoned me, it always seems to come back.

I want to leave you with a little encouragement my friends, please, please be proactive about your health. Keep on top of your routine screenings. Do your breast exams, don't skip going to the doctor because you don't want to get on the scale or because you are embarrassed to talk about what's bothering you. Make your health your priority and never take it for granted.

65 comments:

  1. It sounds like you have planned carefully and are focused on healing. Positive thoughts for you!

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  2. Jen I am so sorry to hear this. It sounds like you are making very sound, proactive choices. Know that my thoughts are with you. Sending gentle hugs.
    Penny

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  3. Love you, my dear.
    So proud of you for sharing and reminding us all to never put our health on the back burner.
    xoxo
    T

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  4. Jenn- you are the most amazing woman! Your IG posts/blog have brought me so much joy. Lots of positive thoughts & prayers for you friend! You are brave & strong! I am right behind you and know that you will make a full recovery!
    Xoxo

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  5. As a nurse who walks this journey with my patients, I can say is listen to your body. Rest. Eat well. Make a list of how others can help and let them. Be well, stay strong and breathe.

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  6. Jen, I'm taking a much needed break from blogging, but on this rainy morning I took a few moments to browse through the blogs I follow. I'm sending you a great big hug and encouragement as you go through this difficult journey. I know your family will be your biggest supporters, but maybe a support group would help lift your spirits. In the medical community, many facilities will match you up with a woman with a similar story who's finished her course of treatment and is cancer free to offer you positive support and field all the questions and concerns you have. My thoughts will be with you in the months to follow and I thank you for sharing your story on your blog.

    xo, Vickie

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  7. I wish for you all the luck with your treatments and that everything goes as best was possible.

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  8. This June 4th I will be a 13 year,stage 3 breast cancer survi
    vor. You never forget hearing those words. Take care of yourself.
    You are a beautiful person inside and out! Thank you for sharing
    your story!

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  9. Jen, I appreciate you sharing your story and I am thankful that you have a good support system. I will be thinking and praying for you as you go through this difficult journey. I will keep positive thoughts for you and I am glad that they have found it early.

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  10. First of all, big hugs to you!! I know that you've got this. Your strength, resilience and family will get you through. Lean on them and know that we out here in blogland are cheering for you. I'll be thinking of you & keeping you in my prayers.

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  11. So sorry this is happening to you. I will be praying for you as you go through this journey. I am happy that you are blessed with a wonderful husband and sweet girls.

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  12. Praying for you. 14 years ago I heard the same diagnosis. God's grace to you!

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  13. Just know we are out here praying for you. The summer can still be awesome. You will just be taking it easy one day at a time. I really enjoy your blog and I am sending positive thought your way.

    Cindy Huxtable

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  14. Checking in after a long absence from reading any blogs at all. So very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and wishing you continued strength as you carry on. It sounds like you have a good plan in place and I truly hope for the very best outcome with the least possible disruption.

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  15. Sending you (((((((((((hugs))))))))))) and prayers as you travel this difficult journey. I pray that God gives you the strength you need each day and holds you in His arms when the dark moments come. You are Blessed to have such a supportive husband, family and friends. Thanks for sharing with us - that took a lot of courage. You can do this Jen and prayer will continue each day for you and your family. Love you.

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  16. Stay strong you are a brave lady.
    I will pray for you.
    x

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  17. Your words surprised me...I was hoping you were going to post about all the crafting you were doing. You have written this post with true elegance and your strength shows through. I have my pap and mammo set up for June. You will be on my prayer list. Wishing you all the best!

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  18. Jen,
    I love your blog and even though I don't really know you, I feel like you are a friend because your spirit comes through in your writing. I love knitting and all things French, just like you. I love your sacred days idea that you started and I think it's wonderful to think of this as your sacred summer. My heart goes out to you and I am thankful that your doctors caught it early. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    I know you love to read and sometimes it helps to hear about someone else who has gone through a similar experience. I read a lot of blogs and I don't know if you know this one - Carolina Charm - but I thought you might like to read her blog because she is a young wife and mom of two and had a double mastectomy preventatively (I believe breast cancer runs in her family and she tested positive for the gene) and then reconstruction. She blogged very openly about the whole experience and is a very positive person and I think you might like to read her story. I don't know her either, by the way, just another blog I like!
    Here is a link to her blog: http://www.northcarolinacharm.com/search/label/Double%20Mastectomy

    Take good care.

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  19. You are awesome and strong!! and on the days that you are not feeling awesome and strong, come back to this beautiful place you have created and we will virtually hold your hand, "listen" to you, pray for/with you and just remind you of what a special, warrior woman you are.

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  20. Jen, I am shocked to read this and so sorry this is happening to you, though you sound strong and positive and I know your husband and girls will be a wonderful support system for you. My SIL has the same cancer gene that you tested positive for and she also had the double mastectomy and reconstruction that you are going to have. She is doing fantastic. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us. Much love, hugs and support, my dear friend. xoxo

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  21. Oh my dear friend! I just sent up good vibes. First off, you will get thru this. I am sure you have thought, Hey, haven't I paid my dues? When I got Uterine Cancer 4 years ago, I hung up the phone and screamed. Not my best moment...LOL but I was in shock. Hadn't I had the crappiest childhood? Hadn't I had to go thru iron infusions for a year due to severe anemia? And hey, then I got Diabetes. I figured I was safe from the Big C. Nope, and as my family kept telling me, it wasn't anything I had done. I was the best person they knew, it just was. Like you I had kept to my annual physicals and mentioned my symptoms and they found it early. After losing all "my lady bits" as my girls called them, it was not the summer I had imagined. But I survived, and got stronger and my family rallied about me. Friends have asked me, how did I feel about losing my female parts,and very honestly I would tell them, the tumor was like having an alien in me and I wanted it out pronto. I wanted to live and I would do anything to achieve that goal. I have followed your lovely blog for a long time, and I know you can handle this, and your family will be there for you. Especially your daughters. They will make sure you are well taken care of. You have taken care of them, let them take care of you. Sorry this is so long, but I want you to know you can do this. It seems so unfair and yes it is life changing, but you will get thru this. Please try and post so that we know how you are doing. Sending lots of hugs and kindness. :) Kit

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  22. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you all you need for healing and comfort.

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  23. The most eloquent and truly positive, inspiring post I've ever read by someone who is facing a life changer head on. You are wise...you do not need to hear negative experiences. I once read that when a blogger comments on another's post, keep it about what you are reading, not yourself. It happens more often than not and truly p***es me off!

    That said, I'm sending love, hugs and prayers. We are here for you, dear friend.

    Jane x

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  24. Oh my goodness! I am sending positive thoughts and prayers. And be encouraged -- my dear friend Lucy had the same and has been continuing to enjoy life for the past 8 years with clean test results.

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  25. You are a tower of strength. And you have a village (literally and figuratively) behind you. Go in fighting and come out a winner. You got this. Prayers and positivity in your direction. Please keep us all posted.
    ---Lisamarie

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  26. Woke up in the middle of the night thinking and praying for you, Jen! Thank God daily for strength and healing and a full recovery. He is so good and hears and answers all of our prayers!

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  27. I've known you for some time, so I certainly know you've had more than your fair share of trials in life. I will keep you in my thoughts and hope that everything works out. You are so strong and you always face adversity with grace and humility. I get my mammogram every February. Unless I don't have health insurance next year. Peace, my friend.
    Brenda

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  28. think of the many many women who wish they were you , stage 0. You are so lucky.

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  29. May God heal you. You are in a good area for treatment. The Indy area near you has some Wonderful Doctors that are very well trained. You are such a sweet soul with a great attitude.
    Blessings

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  30. Jen, you seem so brave and honest in the way you have written this. Take the best care of yourself this summer... be thinking of you

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  31. My thoughts and prayers are with you. My God hold you in his loving arms every day.

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  32. So sorry to read about your breast cancer. Stage O is very good news. Thank God for your wonderful family,they have your back.

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  33. Jen - I haven't been to your site in ages. I don't know what made me stop by today, but I know now to add you in my prayers. The Good Lord will lift you up. I'll be catching up now on your crafts and projects from back posts.

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  34. I am so sad and sorry to hear your news. I'm fairly new to your blog and have been enjoying it immensely browsing around and getting to know you. My sister and my BFF have both gone through this same thing.. and both are doing wonderfully and free of the cancer. I pray for them both every day, and I will add you to my prayers. You sound very positive in your choices and I hear the strength coming through in your words. Sending hugs to you today... Marilyn in Oregon

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  35. So sorry to hear your news. You are a resilient person and will beat this disease with the love and support of your family and friends. Stay strong.

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  36. Holding you close in my thoughts and prayers

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  37. Jen, You remain one of my biggest heroes. You are real, you are yourself, you don't get caught up in the rat race in life. You have a higher perspective, and you know what is truly important in life. I am constantly amazed by you, and know that God loves you and is watching over you. I come to your blog to find peace and serenity, and I always find it. I find courage and strength, truth, and love. You remind me what is truly most important. Love. Love for ourselves, and love for others. It is clear that whatever you have faced in your life, you have become stronger and better because of your experiences, though painful. You are are truly an inspiration to me. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  38. Dearest Jen, please know that I am sending you love and courage as you embark on this next difficult phase of your journey. I have no doubt that you will feel the sun on your face and joy in your heart again soon. Be strong darling girl. You are not alone and all will be well. xx

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  39. Prayers will be said in Bay City, Mi. for you.
    You can do this! Good thoughts coming your way!

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  40. Oh my gosh, I am praying for you, Jen, and wishing you rapid healing. Hugs and prayers, sweet friend. xo

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  41. I'm so glad you found it early!! (preaching to the choir- I know that you know) That increases the chances of a successful remission. I will pray for your health and well-being.

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  42. I read your blog faithfully, but don't comment. Now, however, I will tell you that there is one more person who will keep you in her heart. May your strength carry you through the dark times so that you can enjoy the light that lies ahead.

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  43. Sending you positivity and prayers!

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  44. That was me thinking you were absent because you were working, crafting, in your beautiful studio. And in the meantime you're in and out of hospital :( So sorry to hear this. It's what we all fear, I guess. Your in my thoughts and prayers, dear! Wishing you every bit of strenght to deal with your cancer! Big hug!! X

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  45. I appreciate you sharing this. I believe you have a very wise medical plan in response for this situation. If there are body parts that are misbehaving, get rid of them! Ovaries, too, if that's what needs to happen!!!! I have such a good feeling about this. You are going on my prayer list!
    Cheering you on!

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  46. Like others, I don't often post on blogs, but this post has stuck with me since I read it early this morning. I wish you the very best with what lies ahead, and I have to tell you that I admire your strength and hope. Your words will undoubtedly inspire and comfort others who may also be facing health challenges right now. You are blessed with a supportive partner and by the sounds of it, medical personnel, and that is priceless. You will be in my thoughts. Thanks for your honesty in sharing this.

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  47. Sending prayers of healing and strength; hope and comfort.

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  48. I'm so sorry to hear this news of having breast cancer...It takes time to take it all in an adjust...My prayers are with you and I also admire your strenght.

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  49. As I said in my Instagram comment, I know that you will kick this because of your attitude. I know way too many people who are cancer survivors and what they all have in common is their determination to overcome cancer.

    Good luck on your different surgeries.

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  50. My thoughts are with you and your family during your cancer journey. Thank you for having the courage to share with others and remind everyone of the importance of screening and early intervention (where possible). May you find comfort in the positive thoughts are being sent to you all from around the world. Take care & look after yourself & each other.

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  51. :( I don't know you personally, in "real-life", but feel like I do. I am in absolute deep tears over this post. Almost sobbing, in fact. I feel like a dear friend just broke the news to me. Please know I am so much in awe of your positive attitude and praying so hard for your health, strength, and hope. Sending you much love. XO. Sara-"The Rosy Life Blog"

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  52. There are several things that have come to mind after reading this post, Jen. First and foremost, I know that you are going to be fine. I can feel it in my bones. Secondly, I believe that we are sometimes used as vessels to do work that needs to be done to help others. I believe that by you writing this post and telling people to take care of themselves and not worry about things such as the scale to prevent us from taking care of ourselves you are doing what you've been put on this earth to do. The scale is a HUGE part of why I put off taking care of myself and making the doctors' appointments that need to be made. It is the reason why I just went to the gynecologist for the first time since my daughter was born 7 years ago. Reading your words deeply effected me and I know they have and will effect others as well. Think positive thoughts and say positive affirmations and use visualizations of cancer being erased from your body. My next door neighbor just had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. She's doing incredibly well. My son's best friend's mom was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer about 8 or 9 years ago and there are no issues whatsoever. You are strong and you are brave and you have so many people that will say prayers for you. You got this, lady. Not a doubt in my mind. xoxoxoxoxoxo

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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  53. Sending positive thoughts and vibes to you & your family! They will take good care of you. You are lucky to have caught it so early. #theCwordsux

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  54. Thinking of you... praying all goes well.
    xo

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  55. I just wanted to leave a little note-let you know you are in my prayers every. single. day! and I am so proud of the way you told this story! I love that you have said you don't want negative- this is brilliant- it's not only taking control but helping others to learn how to be better. YOU'VE GOT THIS! thanks again for all the words- your courage is contagious.

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  56. Having been sidelined with autoimmune issues since I was 34 I can tell you that everytime I get a new diagnosis it hits me hard. At first!! Then I mentally pick myself and get on with the process with living. You go through a grieving process and then you figure out how to incorporate this new thing into your life. You will be able to do so too.I have never had a breast removed but I did have my ovaries removed. I was 24 when my first ovary and my uterus was removed and 28 when my last ovary was removed. I am 83 now. I lived and even with 10 autoimmune diseases(lupus, fibro etc) manage to live my life. I know you will too. You just got hit with too much at one time. Breathe!

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  57. Oh Jen, I will be sending prayers your way, I know you are amazing! You will get through this. Thank you for sharing!! You are loved.

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  58. I will be praying for you!!

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  59. I know all to well where your at....as I was diagnosed with early stage uterine cancer in early March, had radical hysterectomy 1st of April.....it is a scary realization. My cancer was all contained to my uterus so no chemo or radiation....I feel so blessed! I just passed my 8wk post op mark and feel great! As scary as this was for my husband and I, in some ways it has been a blessing, an eye opener to what is really important in life and don't sweat the small stuff...I wish you well... you've got this! You will do great!

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  60. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2004. She is now 13 years cancer free. You will say the same one day. God bless and keep you.

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  61. Dear Jen: When I first read your note, I recoiled in shock and clicked off the page, not sure what to do or say. I have often thought of you since then and this morning, it just seems like the right words came to me. I, too, have had cancer and remember clearly all of the conflicting thoughts and feelings with which you are dealing. You're right to feel angry, and frustrated, and scared, and self-pitying, and shocked. But you're also right to feel hopeful, and strong, and loved. It's hard to turn away from the negatives, but the positives are so much more brilliant. They will shine out at you and give you that beacon of light through days that feel unnaturally dark. This is not the path you would have chosen, but it's now a part of your journey. You have no choice but to walk through it. Love is your body armor, determination is your sword, and hope is your shield. Family and friends (so many of whom you have touched but never met) will surround you and lift you. You can do this.

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  62. jen...many blessings and much love to you, your precious girls, and your husband that you always speak so fondly of. thinking of you all.
    miss lynn

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  63. dearest Jen ♥
    many love and appreciate you for who you are and the tenderness
    shared to all you meet and speak with in town and here on your blog.
    step softly through this time .. may your life be laced in grace
    in the gentleness of your family and those closest to you.
    i'll be praying for your health and a precious outcome. ♥ sherry

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  64. I've read your blog for years and wish you nothing but good results and a speedy recovery on this journey that too many women must take. God bless!

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  65. Jen, You are woman warrior. You will kick cancer's ass. All of the experiences that you have had, were preparing you for this moment. Sending positive thoughts your way!

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello today! I always love to hear what you have to say.