Monday, December 12, 2011
*I am still riding high from getting good news a month ago. We found another tumor in my leg and had to have it removed and tested, it came back PRE-cancer. It was the first good news we had heard in a long time.
*I am still doing chemo at home 3X a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights are still tough for me. My body is fighting HARD, which is good and bad. Good because my body is strong and hopefully that means that all the cancer is getting destroyed! Bad because I experience terrible side effects. I still get high fevers (around 102-103), bad headaches, chills, body aches, and throw up A LOT. I am still only doing a half dose too. My Doctor wants me to get through the Holidays before we discuss upping the dosage.
*One of the biggest difficulties I am having right now is the fight I have with the medications I take daily. I don't like taking pills. I HATE that I have to take so many of them. And to make matters worse, I'm taking lots of pain pills. I don't like how I feel on them, but it is the only way I can manage pain and honestly it is the ONLY way I can get out of bed most days. With that said, I'm scared of being on pills ALL THE TIME. I have talked to my Doctor about this one too, but he doesn't seem too concerned. 80% of people with my cancer quit the chemo only after a few months, so he wants me to do whatever it takes to stay on this treatment even if it means I become addicted to pain pills. I am not sure how I feel about this, but it doesn't sit well at all. But yay for completing 3 and 1/2 months of chemo at home.
*I still make it to the gym 3X a week. I know that this sounds crazy to so many of you. But when we discussed the fight I have ahead of me with my medical team, I understood that to give myself the best chance I HAD to work at keeping my body strong. And so I do just that. I work as hard as I can to stay physically strong. I do bootcamp Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and I kick my ass every time. I still struggle with the eating "healthy" thing, especially now during the Holidays. Can I get an amen?
*Mentally I am doing just ok. Having cancer messes with your head. I have Doctor visits where my mental state is the first thing we talk about and honestly it is one of my Doctor's biggest concerns. Cancer patients struggle with depression and I'm beginning to understand why. I have always been a cheerful person, probably annoyingly cheerful. I am just wired to see life that way. So it was hard for me when the Doctor explained that cancer, chemo, and the medications I would be on WOULD attack my mind and outlook on things. This is a hard battle. And it is just that....a battle. I work hard to keep my body as strong as I can and keeping my mind strong is just as much work. I feel weak mentally. And this is hard for me. I need prayer. I need friends who are willing to just sit and laugh with me. And I need lot's of Jesus.
* My stomach looks like a push pin and it is really gross. I know that I am probably being a little dramatic about this one, but I don't care. And I understand and feel for everyone else out there that daily have to give themselves shots, but this seems different. First off just the act of shoving a needle into your stomach is just creepy. But knowingly injecting poison that you KNOW will make you VERY sick it just crazy. I have to mentally talk myself up before each poke. And the skin on my poor stomach is having a hard time with getting stabbed 3X a week.
*My hair is growing FAST now. I still get sores on my scalp (I know gross huh?) But the baldness stage is gone (I hope, I could lose my hair again at some point). This makes me happy, because I have always had long hair and I guess it makes me feel prettier. Everyone has been so nice about my hair, but honestly it can hurt me feelings. I don't like my short hair. It is a symbol of something that is trying to kill me. I know that I should be proud of it of the battle I am fighting. I know that I should wear my new hair with pride. But mentally that is just hard for me. I miss my hair and what I used to look like. I miss my husband playing with it. I JUST miss it. So even though I LOVE hearing that you think I am cute, it stings just a little each time.
*Some new jewlery. I am on the search for a good medical bracelet. One that I can wear all the time. It is just a smart move. If anything ever happened to me doctors would need to know what I have and what medications I am taking. If I am unconscious then a medical bracelet will help. Anyone know of any good ones? I am currently looking at roadID.
*The kids are still doing great! They just don't get it. That is partly because I don't let them see anything bad. And partly because they are just so young. I will tough out most things until they are asleep or gone, then I lose it. I cry, moan, lay on the couch, and complain to Adam once the kids can't see me anymore. I could be doing A LOT better at a lot of my Mom duties, but for now I think we are just holding on. Fostering is still out of the question, which makes me feel sad and weak. I miss my babies. And little Alexis is still having some separation anxiety. She loves her Mommy very much and freaks out whenever I leave.
I think that is it for now. Did I leave something out? Do you have other questions? Then leave a comment and I will answer.....Until next time.....
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I'm doing well. Sore, sick, and tired but that is more because I am still doing chemo 3X a week not because of the surgery.
I was thinking about all the surgeries and I had this year(all FOUR of them) and more specifically the new scars I have now. I have 4 new ones. They are big, ugly, and I don't like them. But each one tells a story. A story that I need to be PROUD of.
My physical scars tell a story of God's blessing, hope, healing, love, and the battle Jesus has already won for me. Although they are ugly to the eye they are most precious to me. My physical scars tell the world about my story....no, His story in me. And because of that I will WEAR my new scars with pride. I will not be ashamed of those pink zigzag lines.
Friends, I challenge you to do the same. Be proud of your scars. The physical, but more importantly the emotional ones. I have those too. I have had my heart broken by others, been betrayed, lost a baby, watch another baby fight to live, given back my foster babies to another, and now a cancer fight to live as long as God will let me. I have scars from all of those stories, ones that are painful and deep. But there is healing in the hurt. And I want that to be what people see when they see my scars. I want them to see the healing from a Savior who loves us no matter how deep the wounds are.
And to be honest no one will see those scars if I don't show them. I could hide all of my physical scars if I wanted to, and no one would ever see them. But I refuse to do that. I want them to shine. I want to do the same thing with my other scars, I want to share those with others too. I understand wanting to hide that hurt, but others out there are hurting with something similar battles. And trust me when I say that sometimes just hearing that someone else has a similar scar makes a world of difference.
I want everyone to see the "real" me. The one that has been broken and hurt. The one who has lost so much and yet gained even more. The one that is struggling even right now with fighting cancer. The "real Jen". And I pray that ever scar, battle wound, on the inside or outside points others to Jesus.
I invite you to do the same.......
Monday, December 5, 2011
Are you seeing family this December?
I'm working on a blog to update everyone on my treatment and look forward to seeing the story God is telling in my life on video soon.......
Friday, November 25, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
It is silly I know, but when you get cancer we can talk. I just don't want my kids sitting around someday thinking "oh yeah, remember when Mom had cancer. We didn't get to do anything." and "She just laid around for a year or so." Now my prayer is that if they ever say anything like that I will be around so I can smack them in the head, but you see what crazy thoughts are in my head. I want 2011 to be a year NOT all about Mom's cancer.
So here we are....Thanksgiving. But instead of a post about how thankful I am to be ALIVE (I really should do one of those) I am going to share with you all the cool crafts I have been making my kids do in an effort to trick them into thinking that Mom is A-OK!
Turkey cookies: everything on Pinterest really does look easier than it is is real life.
Place cards for our family Thanksgiving dinner. These were actually pretty fun to make and Connor was uber excited to write everyone's names this year.
Ah yes, the McManus Family Thanksgiving Tree, isn't it hideous? But my kids love that ugly thing. Every year I sit down for an hour and cut out little paper hands (I hate doing this every year). Then every night at dinner the week before Thanksgiving the kids write about one thing they are thankful for. I keep a couple each year and we hang those up too. It really has become a great family tradition even if the thing is one huge eye sore.
But seriously, take one moment this year to sit down and thank God for everything this year. For me it has been a really hard one, but a really really great one too. God has given me so much and I am positive that no matter what you are going through right now, He has given you so much too. Have a blessed day everyone!!!!
Monday, November 7, 2011
Our neighborhood is a kids dream come true when it comes to trick-or-treating. We just go down one street and then back on the other side and the kids get the MOTHER LOAD. It is very exciting to the kids to get this much candy, but I am horrified and HATE it. So we bag it(4 zip lock gallon bags full) and I PAY the kids money to make the candy go away. Mean or totally awesome you decide?
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I am a control freak. I like knowing what is coming. I'm a planner and a list maker. I like things my way, because let's be honest "my way is just better." I like to think I'm the "fun" girl, but many times I find myself missing fun because I'm off planning or rethinking my plan. I miss sweet moments with my kids because I don't have "time." I stress over the cleanliness of my house even when no one is coming over to see it. I worry about money and feel anxious when I spend it. I lie in bed at night and go over things in my head, over and over and OVER again. Any other controllers feel me?
But, now I have cancer, and it changes A LOT of things. I have a disease now that is trying to kill me. It is slowly trying to destroy everything I love. And one day it just might do that. (I pray that it is a long way away). But, the truth is that I'm going to have to fight for life, and that is not going to change anytime soon. Melanoma (stage 3 and beyond) is not medically curable. You are considered in remission or NED (no evidence of disease) when the cancer is removed and they can't find anymore and you are done with treatments. You are cured of melanoma when you die from something else. (Totally morbid, right?) At least, that is what the smart cancer people say.
I'm not a person who likes stats and numbers but could you ignore these?
Stage IIIC Melanoma: I have a 27% chance to live 5 years after my diagnosis and an 18% chance to live 10 years. (American Cancer Society) My doctors and the treatments I am currently on are working VERY hard to make those numbers better.
Would those numbers make you worry? Would they give you anxiety? Honestly, what would you do if you heard stats like that about YOU? Would you be AFRAID?
Trust me, I have felt every emotion you can feel after hearing that cancer is trying to kill you. But the truth is this: I have Jesus.
And Jesus said this:
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?I'm not going to let FEAR or WORRY or ANXIETY rob me of any more minutes. Our time on this earth is just like a breath. It is short whether I die tomorrow or in 70 years. Life is nothing but a vapor. I will NOT live this life tortured with fear, doubt, worry, and anger. I will not let Satan take the life I have left on this earth and plague it with this disease. Because the truth is, while I fight to live, fear, anxiety, and worry are the real killers that if I let win will take away everything I treasure.
On Tuesday, I go in for another surgery (just an outpatient). This might be a shock to some of you, but it happened quickly. I found another spot/lump on my hip and had it looked at. It had been removed before, but it has come back so the surgeon wants to "dig it out" and have it tested. We will know more about the results late next week. If it is cancer, we have some big decisions to make. If it is not cancer then I have another surgery on Nov 30th to get my port removed. (That's good news! I am very excited about that surgery)
This is going to be a new way of life for me. I will have a battle with cancer forever, but I will also spend the rest of my life in a fight with fear. Fear will be there forever, knocking on the door, whispering into my heart, and trying to get into my mind. Pray with me friends. Pray that fear does not win today.
This is what my prayer will be this week and next. Because of the Gospel I don't have to be afraid. Because of Jesus I have HOPE in my heart not FEAR!
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
I know that some of you battle with fear, anxiety, and worry. Friends don't let Satan win this fight over your thoughts, dreams, and feelings. The truth is we have nothing to be anxious about, but instead we have the peace of Jesus Christ.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
In Texas it's still 90 degrees. So instead or warmth you are trying to stay cool with your costume choices. And when you carved pumpkins, they won't last longer than 4 days outside. We carved pumpkins last weekend and lets just say the pumpkins did not last until Halloween.
Luckily I took some photos of our awesome pumpkins before they turn into a pile of moldy mush.
It was a pumpkin fail, but in the end the kids look pretty happy.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I came across pics from last Halloween, and it made me tear up. There was my sweet little J-man smiling back at me. I miss that sweet baby boy. (For those who are new to our story, J-man was our foster son for 7 months) We haven't had any foster babies in our house since the end of July and that makes me very sad. J-man was the sweetest baby with a smile that could brighten everyone's day. Which got me thinking. This is one reason why I fight the way that I do.
You see we aren't fostering while I'm doing treatments, it is just not a good idea. But we will foster again (and maybe eventually adopt) and it gives me something to fight for when this cancer journey gets hard.
And his smile cheered me up.
Maybe you need something to bring a smile to your face today, and J-man can do that. I'm sorry that we can't show his face, but it is the rule.
Bryce and J-man
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
At the same time, I'm very excited for my little girl and how big she is getting. This week was another big step toward "little girl-hood" for her. She is now sleeping in a big girl bed. She is going on the potty. And now this week, she gave up her BINKY.
This is a big deal in our house. My babies LOVE binkys. I have no idea why, but they all have. When McManus babies turn 1 they can only have their binkys when it is nighttime. And then at 2 and 1/2 it is time to say bye bye binky.
My kids have done great with this. They are proud of giving their binkys away and excited that they did it all by themselves. I love it, because I am not the bad guy who took their precious binky away. And we don't really have a hard time with them after they give the binkys away, because they are the ones who did it. They know that the binky is gone and so we don't really have big problems.
Alexis was such a trooper and was very proud of becoming a big girl. She slept perfect last night. (naptime she had a little bit of a hard time, but I expected that) And tonight she went to bed again with no problems. I'm very proud, but a little sad that my baby girl is growing up.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
When the weekend hit. I wanted one thing; to NOT be any of those things anymore. I needed to be just Jen, Mom, Friend, and Wife. So that is what I did this weekend......
And who doesn't love coloring? (especially a kitty mask)
And the coolest balloon artist I have ever seen.
She loved that little monkey.
And we had a blast!
We ended the weekend going to Target, just me and my husband. It was a rare moment and we had a blast! Just walking around shopping, talking, laughing, and having alone time.
Overall it was a great weekend, but I am spent. Exhausted and very sick. It was worth it. And I'm so glad that God gave me another weekend with my family. How was your weekend?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I'm trying to eat as healthy as I can at this point. But this is difficult because I'm so sick. Unfortunately I find myself having to eat lot's of bread because it's the best thing for my stomach. We have started juicing and I try my best to have 2 juice concoctions a day. I'm trying to not get too consumed with dieting right now, which is hard for me. One of the side effects of the chemo I am on is weight GAIN. Horrifying right?? So I am trying to not freak out, stay strong, and eat well.
I'm also going to the gym 3 times a week. (I'm used to going 5 plus times a week) I'm doing bootcamp with an awesome group of ladies. My trainer Mike lost his Mom to cancer last year and he is helping me A LOT. I'm not as strong or fast as I used to be, but it feels good going to the gym. At the gym I don't think about cancer or chemo. I just try to do my best work. And I feel like it is so good for me right now to stay as strong as I can.
I also LOVE that my kids get a place to just play, hang out with other kids, RUN, and overall have a blast. We go to an awesome gym with an exceptional kids club. They play outside on the playground, do games on the basketball courts, have computer time, do crafts, and fee play. They love it and I love the time I get for myself. I also get a SHOWER by myself. I get to take my time and wash every part of my body and SHAVE!!! No interruptions and I love that!
How are your checkups going?
I'm still only taking half dosage of chemo right now. My doctor is watching my labs closely and I talk to him weekly about the side effects I am experiencing. We're in a good routine right now. I take chemo shots Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. My body is still struggling, but it is getting better. I still get high fevers, nausea, body aches, and bad headaches. But one of the worst things, is the medications I am taking to help with the side effects. I don't like the way I feel on them and I get other side effects to deal with from the pills. At the end of the day I feel like a pill taking machine and I hate that.
When I mention you in prayer...what do you need the most in the way of support?
I need everyone to continue to pray that my body stays strong. I need this chemo and I need to take it for a long time. In the next week or so we will try to get the dosage back up and I want my body to handle it well.
I need my mind to stay strong too. This chemo has a high depression side effect and I don't need that battle too. So far so good, but I could use prayer.
My kids are doing great and you can continue to pray that they don't feel stressed by this.
I love to laugh, so finding ways to help me smile is always the best way to help.
I do have a question, have you ever heard of s flax oil cottage cheese diet? It's more known as the Budwig diet, it may be something to try?
There are too many diets out there for me to keep track of. I could go crazy trying them all. At the end of the day, we all know the right things to eat. Lot's of fruit and veggies, protein, and whole grains. I talk to my doctor a lot, and he is great. We feel like the treatment plan I am on right now will give me the best shot at beating this.
Thanks for the questions.....We'll do it again next week!
Monday, October 17, 2011
It's hard to know what to write about on here sometimes. I'm trying to be honest about my cancer journey. But I don't want to write about stuff no body cares about. Writing has helped me get a lot of my feelings, concerns, joys, and fears out there. And that does help me out a lot. But that is NOT why I am writing. I feel like God has a beautiful story to tell and I want to be apart of that. At the end of the day I want my cancer journey to draw people closer to Him.
And so I need your help. Send me some questions. They can be anonymous or you can leave your name. But I need questions.(Please just leave a comment on this post) And I promise to do my best to answer them.
What do you want to know?
Do you want to know more about the treatments I am on? The side effects?
How my husband and my kids are handling this?
What brings me joy?
What makes me scared?
Am I afraid of death?
Do I miss my hair?
Anything. I'd love to answer questions and share them with all my readers every week. Can you help me?
Saturday, October 15, 2011
But then there are the other days..... (and unfortunately there are lot's of these days)
Days when cancer is kicking my butt. They are the days when chemo has made me so sick, I don't want to get out of bed. I don't care if the laundry has not been done. And my kids could eat bread all day if they wanted to. Those days are hard. It's hard to smile, to clean, to be a Mom. And yet.....My kids think I am an AWESOME Mom on those days.
I'm tired and very sick. So there is LOTS of free play on those days. And my kids love it! I forget to get on them about chores or school or even brushing their teeth. We just play. (Well, the kids play, and I lay there and watch them) On one of those days, I decided to get my camera (which I still don't really know how to use) out and have a fashion show. I laid on the couch and took pictures of the kids trying on different costumes from the dress-up closet. There were lots of laughs, some interesting costume choices, and I didn't feel as sick once we were done.
But in all seriousness, cancer/chemo has made me slow down. I'm stuck on the couch a lot, which means a lot more cuddle time with my kids. Just last night I laid on the couch with Connor playing a puzzle game on my phone for a long time. I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I forget to just drop everything and love on my kids sometimes.
Cancer has made me do that. And that is why sometimes being on chemo makes me a better Mom.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
It is a rough night for a lot of women. And the reason is simply because we don't like the word "submissive". That's it for a lot of us. We don't like that word. It makes the hair on the back on our neck stand up. It makes us feel weak and inferior.
But for a moment I'd like you to open your heart and mind to what I'm going to say. What if it's not the role of helper that we don't like? But instead it's our own sin. Sin that is blinding us to the beauty that is "equal yet different" roles in marriage.
Take a look at this video.
You see we (every one of us) broke marriage. It was perfect. And we broke it with sin, with pride, with our messed up hearts. And because we broke it, marriage is just that.....kind of broken. It doesn't work well. And it doesn't work well because we are broken.
With the hope of the gospel, we can live a good, perfect marriage. With the gospel, the word "submissive" is not scary. It's beautiful. It's the same relationship Jesus had with the Father. With the gospel, being helper to our husbands is exactly where we are supposed to be. With the gospel, we can be strong, beautiful women who love and respect our husbands. With the gospel we can give our husbands a chance to lead us and enjoy it.
With the gospel, Satan does NOT destroy marriage. He tried a long time ago. And in that moment it really did look like marriage was broken. But God rescued us, He saved us, and one day Satan will lose.
Monday, October 10, 2011
But this time last week we were living the vacation high-life. Adam had been working like a crazy person on a new Gowalla. And I had chemo and had to be a single Mom while Adam worked so hard. We needed a little break. So we headed to the beach. Don't you just love the beach?
Me too. We headed to Galveston and enjoyed 3 days ON A BOAT. Yup you heard me right. On a boat. Adam's parents live on their boat and we got to join them.
This made me tear up a bit. My oldest driving the motorboat all by himself. He is growing up so fast.
Hitting the beach.
Eating out, right on the beach.
He's a happy camper, shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon.
This little girl, wouldn't let me leave her sight. It wasn't annoying one bit. (Literally could not go take a shower without her. I think she was paranoid that I was going to leave her) I just love her.