Thursday, November 8, 2012

In August 2011, I started a long year of chemo to fight stage 3 Melanoma.

In August 2012, I finished.

Fighting cancer is a war. And like all wars, there are winners and losers. Battles won and battles lost. The ultimate winner of the war had casualties as did the side that lost. The loser has moments of greatness and victory. As it is with war, a lot of times it feels like even the loser wins some and the winner loses some. This is cancer.

My cancer has won some battles; I have won some. We are still fighting, and the harsh reality for me and my family is that we will always be fighting. Luckily, I believe the greatest war ever fought has already been won. My soul is already saved. My time on this earth is limited, but my time living in eternity is not. With that said I really really want to fight this war for much longer. In October 2012, we got that news. The chemo worked. There was no new cancer growth in my body. We take a breath and celebrate. We take heart knowing that eventually there will be more battles.

I dreamed of the day that I wouldn't have to stab a shot full of poison into my stomach. Lying on the couch, fighting yet another fever I told myself, just wait soon you will be done. In my head, I told myself that I would be the best mother, wife, sister, friend, and daughter once I stopped treatments. I gave so much up for such a long time, surely when I stop this craziness life will be so....perfect.

When I stopped treatments, I jumped head first into life. The life I had put on hold for so long. I found myself struggling, treading water, and working so hard for just a breath.

I am a tough cookie and don't like sharing struggles, but I told myself that when this cancer journey started I would be honest about every step. The good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I experienced so much joy, beauty, grace, and blessing during that hard year. I was only in the hospital a couple times. Even though my body had a harder reaction to chemo, I was able to just put my big girl panties on and deal with it. Just finishing one of the hardest treatments out there was a miracle. I was able to continue going to the gym keeping my body as strong as I could. My kids knew I was sick, but never had trouble with anxiety or fear. My family and friends were supportive. We were given meals. Friends and family helped with our kids. Adam got to work from home most of the time. People selflessly donated to a fundraiser to help pay down our medical bills. God showed His great love and we were so thankful.

But, it was also a really tough year. The chemo wreaked havoc on me. I was sick every day. Throwing up, headaches, fever attacks, chills, swelling, muscle loss, weakness, exhaustion, memory loss, decrease of liver function (my doctor compared my liver to that of an 80 year old alcoholic at one point), and terribly low white blood cell counts. Overall, I was just not very "Jen". The Doctor kept promising that everything would come back. I smiled weakly and believed him. He always cautioned me that for a lot of cancer survivors coming off treatments is even more difficult than being on chemo. I secretly laughed. How could that be?

The day I had dreamed of finally came. No more chemo. I could be the athlete I wanted to be. I could be the wife I was before cancer. The mother. We wouldn't have to hunker down every evening knowing that I would soon be facing fever, puking, and other sickness. We could enjoy a weekend. School was getting ready to start and I would be the most involved and organized Mom ever. No more soup and sandwiches for dinner. I would meal plan every week until Christmas. I could open my Bible and read it without getting a headache. Sit down and talk with a friend without fearing that I wouldn't be able to keep up with a conversation mentally. I could start remembering the week before. I wouldn't get frustrated easily and so tired that I couldn't clean a bathroom. My hair would grow at miraculous pace and I would feel pretty again. The scars would heal quicker than anyone else. All those weddings and babies births that I missed - everyone would just understand. My leg that caused me so much trouble during the year would simply not be a problem. I wouldn't struggle with pride or love of things of the world, after all I almost lost it all. I would appreciate everything I was given never once looking at another wishing and wanting. I would begin volunteering again. Maybe crafting. Stop watching so much TV. And eat completely clean.


For a couple weeks I pretended that everything was ok. Until one day.

I was tired. I was still sick. My house wasn't as clean as I wanted it. We did have soup and sandwiches for dinner. I struggled with what my body looked like. I did not open my Bible. I felt like a joke at the gym. My hair was still ugly. School was not what I dreamed it would be. I watched another couple hours of some stupid show. I yelled at my kids.

Mentally, I was struggling. I felt Satan whispering, "Jen, you are a big fraud". I had been so strong for so long and now what? I sang praises to God every day through treatment. But now that I was done, I felt myself saying, "God, I got this now, thanks though". I had tried to run by myself and landed on my face.

I don't cry often. When I do, it is BIG. I wept in Adam's arms. I cried out that I thought I was strong enough to do it all on my own. I had forgotten that God was the one helping me everyday on chemo and the second I finished I had ran away. I confessed that I was angry we had to struggle through this. I cried out admitting this was harder than I thought. Although we believed that cancer was gone, I was still letting sin try to steal my joy.

So for weeks and months now, I have been taking it slower.

Cancer or no cancer, I need help. Chemo or no chemo, I need help. Physical strength or weakness, I need help. Hair I love or hair I don't, I need help. Clean house or utter chaos, I need help.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
(Psalm 121 ESV)

I know where my help comes from. Every day, I remind myself of this. I admit to God I can only do this with His help.

And you know what? I'm finding my joy again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Video

When I was first diagnosed with cancer everyone was so sweet and encouraging to me. People said things like : "if anyone can beat this it is you" or "you are so strong" or "you got this". I kind of felt exactly that way, like I was going to kick this cancer's ass. But as time went by my heart changed a bit, I still wanted to live and still wanted cancer to go away. But I wanted my story to be about more than a girl who is a tough chick. I wanted God to get all the credit. I wanted this story to be about Him. So I started praying.....

 At the time Daniel Davis was living with us. He is a brilliant photographer and ask us if he could take pictures of our cancer journey. We agreed still not knowing how God would use them. Daniel began working for the story team at our church Austin Stone and the idea to do a video began.

These pictures are real, raw, and kind of scare the crap out of me. I don't remember most of these images or when they were taken. I was sick very sick. I don't look "cute" in them (and we all know that we want cute pictures up on the internet of us). I was smack in the middle of doing crazy treatments everyday. I had gained 15 pounds, my body was freakin out, and our family was in survival mode. I was nervous about this video. Nervous at how it would be received.

But we prayed and believed that God had a story to tell. That His name was going to be lifted high in the midst of trial and suffering. Please friends!! Post, email, share, tweet, Facebook this video. We have been praying that God uses it somewhere for someone for months now. The story team at The Austin Stone did an incredible job and we want people to see it.

Thanks again for everyone who is praying for us. And please continue to pray for those who are fighting this fight alone with no hope of the Gospel.

* Daniel Davis also did an incredible job taking pictures of the night I lost my hair. Feel free to share this one too.

Strength from Adam McManus on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Updates, Game Plans, and Coffee Enemas

Greetings Friends,

It's time for your favorite cancer update.....

I met with my oncologist team earlier this week and we had some great chats. We looked at my labs and talked about how low they still are. My white blood cell count is in the 2.5 range which is yucky and explains why I am so tired, but it is high enough to keep doing chemo. In August it dropped under 1 and that is when we pulled the plug on the last 2 treatments. This is good news. My doctor is impressed that my body has handled these treatments so well and I FEEL LIKE CRAP! It was good hearing that he is happy with everything, because I have been struggling lately. Struggling with how bad I feel ALL THE TIME. Honestly, I have wanted to quit. On a side note, I need to give a shout out to God for protecting our family's health over this year. I have a weak immune system and with 3 little kids should have gotten sick many MANY times, but we have had ZERO sickness. It has been incredible.

"Your liver looks like a 80 year old alcoholic". My doctor thought that that was funny, I was quite horrified. But he reassured me that my liver will bounce back. And that my liver is not cancer-sick it is chemo-sick. Does that sound better? Cause it is. It means my liver is struggling because of the treatments, pain pills, and other drugs. NOT because cancer is spreading. GOOD NEWS! It also means that I get to start a new "fun" regime. *Disclaimer: If you have a weak stomach go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. Two words my friends: Coffee enema. It is exactly what you think it is, and it is going to save my liver. Who knew??!!!

The end is near. After looking at labs and chatting about coffee up my bum, we decided that my body is starting to just "BE DONE". So we are going to finish with chemo AUGUST 1st!!!! Which is beyond awesome! Stage 3 Melanoma is a mean cancer and has a high chance of spreading again (60-70% reoccurrence rate) which is why we have been doing this treatment for a YEAR! We are praying that every cancer cell in my body is destroyed and DOES NOT GROW AGAIN!

On October 3rd we are do a big MRI, the kind where you lay in a plastic tube for a couple hours. On October 8th we'll go over the results. Hopefully that day we will hear the phrase NED, which means NO EVIDENCE of DISEASE. Which means I still have cancer, but it is NOT alive in my body. We talked about this for awhile. Apparently cancer survivors really struggle with the "after" treatment. I have been in "fight-mode" for over a year and then on October 8th, I just what? stop? Nope, cause I am still fighting, but it will be more of a mental battle not the physical one. Every headache, sneeze, restless night of sleep will be a struggle. "Is the cancer back?" "Has it spread again?" That will be a struggle and I am sure I will write about it more later.

So only 9 more weeks to go.....

I want to give a shout out to everyone who has prayed with us over this last year. I have felt every prayer and needed EVERY single one of them. We couldn't have done this journey without of prayer community. You guys rock!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One year later.

It has been a year since I first heard the words, "you have cancer." A year since I heard words like: melanoma, malignant, tumor, stage 3, and "this is serious."

This year has been quite a ride. I have had: 3 surgeries, an 8 day stay in the hospital, 18 days of 4 hour rounds of chemo, 4 MRIs, 2 emergency trips to the ER, x-rays, 6 skin biopsies, more doctor appointments than I can count, 6 weeks of physical therapy, and have given myself a shot of low dose chemo 3 times a week for over 7 months.

On this cancerversary, my first of what I pray is A LOT, I wanted to talk about that day a year ago. The day I heard that cancer was trying to kill me.

"Jen McManus, the results are back. It is a malignant melanoma tumor. The is very serious."
"I better not die. I can't. Do you hear me, God?" It was my first reaction. It was short. A simple cry, prayer, and request to God.
"Jesus, I need you right now. You are the only one that can comfort me at this second. You knew suffering. You knew pain. You knew what it feels like to cry out for your life. And I need you to hold me."
"How I am going to tell Adam?" He is so strong and was so sure that this was nothing.
"I am a tough chick and I am SO going to beat this crap!"
"Ok maybe not that strong. But with God's help I can beat this...............right?"
"God if I don't beat this, please help my see that Your plan is good. Because right now Your plan does not feel "good".
"I can't believe that I have cancer. How can a person who is not even sick have cancer? This has to be a dream?! Wake up, Jen. Wake up! This is not fair."
"Nope, this is fair. So many people out there are getting this same news, but they don't have the hope of the gospel. I do. I need to show them that that changes everything. I am not scared."
"Ugh I am scared. I am scared for my kids. How do you tell your kids? Will they understand? Will this hurt them? Will they blame God and hurt? This feels more real when I think about my kids. They need me to be strong."
"Will I be strong? Can I be strong?"
"Jesus, be my strength. This is going to be a long journey. Life as I know it changes right this second."

Wow. It feels crazy remembering that day in such a real way. In so many ways those thoughts, concerns, and fears are VERY different now. But, in so many ways they are very much the same.

I am not dead yet! To any cancer patient this is a big deal. The statistics for someone fighting stage 3 melanoma are not fun to read. And, to be honest I try to ignore them. 1 year later and God still has me here and that is worth celebrating.

I still need Jesus everyday. In moments when it would be easy to cry out in anger, I find myself instead crying for the comfort from a Savior that hurt just like I do. I love that God's perfect plan gave us someone who just "understands" everything we feel. My Jesus has felt everything I have, and that is so comforting when treatment gets tough.

It was so hard telling Adam that I had cancer and telling him that it had spread was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But he has been incredible in this journey. He continues to write me letters everyday: . I couldn't fight this fight without him.

I am a tough chick, but cancer is mean. I still get sick A LOT. I get fevers, body aches, headaches, and nausea. I'm tired all the time. But, I continue to drag myself to bootcamp 3X a week. It is not pretty, but physically I keep fighting.

Having people who pray for me daily has been one of the biggest blessings to me. There are people all over the world praying for me, and I feel every one of them. All I have to do is tweet that I am having trouble and BOOM people begin praying for me. Thank you everyone!

God's plan still doesn't seem all that "good" to me, but I have seen "good" in this situation. God has used my cancer journey to show others His perfect love. I have seen my kids knowledge of Jesus and how faithful God is grow so much this year. And, I have been given opportunity after opportunity to share my story with so many. That is definitely....GOOD!

It still feels like this is just one big dream. Actually, it feels more like a nightmare at times. I wake up every day, and one of my first thoughts is "oh crap, I still have cancer." Some days, it feels like it was just yesterday when we heard the word: cancer. Other days, it feels like we have been fighting cancer for years.

I wore a LIVESTRONG bracelet long before I was diagnosed with cancer. Living with cancer has been very eye opening. There are so many people out there fighting this journey alone with no hope but their own strength. That makes me sad. I will continue to show others that God does not want us to be alone in this fight.

I am still scared for my kids. I'm scared that they don't get it. I'm scared that they don't understand why I am sick all the time. I hate when I hear things like "Mom, I know we can't cause you are sick, but tomorrow can we go to the park?" Or, when I have to answer the tough questions like: "Mom, so and so said that you are going to heaven, is that true?" But, I still get to be home with them full time and we find a way to make our crazy McManus Life work.

I am physically weak. I am mentally weak. And some days I feel spiritually weak. I don't feel strong. I don't feel like myself. The drugs I am on are powerful, and I hate them. BUT I continue to tell myself that with God's strength and love I am very STRONG!

One year later, life has changed so much; yet, in many ways not at all.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An update and more

Some days I try my hardest to forget that I don't have cancer. On those days I try to just live life. Some days it works. I forget for a moment that cancer is trying to kill me. Here is one of those days. My brother came to visit and we went and did all the tourist "stuff" in Austin. Like taking a picture in front of a big longhorn. (only in Texas)

Then there are the other days.....The days that I really feel like I have cancer.

One of my biggest struggles is the mental battle cancer wages with you. Having a deadly cancer and trying to beat it takes quite a toll on your mind. I try to do a good job staying positive and I have a strong faith. But some days my mind is weak. My doctor has me on some heavy medications that also make my head fuzzy. I am worst at night after the kids go to bed and find myself most nights just laying on the couch. (That is why I haven't been blogging a lot, it is really hard to even put sentences together)

I am sick and tired all the time. I struggle with headaches from the chemo and frequently have a ice pack on my head to help with the swelling(yes my BRAIN SWELLS...scary huh?) and pain. I have a fever every other day. It usually breaks at around 103 degrees. I hate having a fever!!! I throw up a lot from the meds I'm taking. I am tired.....really tired. Like I sleep over 12 hours a day and am still tired. I get mouth sores, have really dry skin, have thinning hair again, and overall feel like crap all the time.

I am not myself. I try so hard to smile. To be joyful. To laugh. But at nights when I am the sickest, I just can't. I'm on so many meds that mess with my head and most of the time they keep me from being myself. I tried new meds last week and I hate them. They make me loopy and kind of crazy. And I hate feeling that way.

I still work out. I know that you think that it is crazy. But it is the ONE thing that hasn't changed. Well kind of. Unfortunately I am weak. I can't do what I used to be able to do physically. But I still try. My doctor and I agree that going to the gym is one of the reasons I am able to still do this treatment. Did you know that over 70% of people with this cancer do NOT complete the year of chemo? They just give up or their body gives up. Going to the gym is how I fight this from happening to me.

I have a serious, deadly cancer, and I ignore that a lot. I don't ignore that I am sick. I feel sick. But I do ignore the seriousness of my type of cancer. Is that weird? I am not sure. A doctor asked me what kind of cancer I had. When I told him, his face went white and he said that he was so sorry. That felt really weird.

I don't know how you can help me. I'm not good at letting people help out. It makes me feel weak. And I HATE feeling weak. And to be honest I am not sure what I need help with. We have a routine that works right now. And we just keep swimming.

My doctor wants me to go to some cancer camp. Rock climbing and river kayaking in Colorado. It sounds interesting. But I really just want to go to Disneyworld with my family. And I want to go to Haiti with my husband and our friends at @HELP.


Life is still quite perfect. My kids are awesome and we really love the routine we have right now. I can still go to Connor's karate here and there, I love coloring and laying low on my "sick days", we live in the best city that gives us chances to have fun outside and together, I have friends who love me, a Mom who talks to me whenever I need her, and a husband who rocks my socks off. No, seriousily he is really the best. He continues to write me letters everyday (, lays on the couch with me every night, gets up with the kids when I have bad mornings, and makes me laugh.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, I still love Jesus. Ha that sounds funny huh? But I really do. It would be really easy for me to have a problem with Jesus. It would be easy to play the "why me?" game, but I don't at all. I love Him more than ever. I have seen Him get me through so much and I really do feel so lucky and so loved. I trust and believe that His plan is perfect for me. And having cancer will not change that.

*Medical Update: I go in for x-rays next week to make sure everything still looks "good" and that there is no new cancer. We decided to keep trying this higher dosage of chemo even though it took me out for a week or so. We want to get as much in my body as we can, which makes a lot of sense to me.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Have you ever ran a marathon? Is it a dream of yours?

Me? Nope, NO WAY! Never ever EVER. I am not a good runner. And I don't enjoy doing things that I am not good at it, especially for over 4 hours!

But on Sunday I was honored to be apart of this race:
Nope, I did not run. Not strong enough to do that. But I did stand out at Mile Marker 10 for hours cheering on as many as I could. We have been a huge fan of LIVESTRONG since Lance started it. We actually joked about how we loved LIVESTRONG before it got "cool". And then I got cancer. And then it became very REAL! And keeping you body as strong as you can became ever more REAL! Working out has become a huge part of my treatment. Even on days when I don't want to, I get my butt to the gym.

So when I had some friends asking if they could run for me in the upcoming LIVESTRONG marathon, I was honored. And beyond excited to get out there and cheer for them. So I made some signs, got up early, found the perfect spot, and cheered and cheered and CHEERED!
It was an incredible experience. There was almost 20,000 people at the LIVESTRONG half and full marathon all out running for someone they cared about or loved. It felt electric out there. And for the first time in my life I considered running! WHAT??!!! And I might have told someone that if I beat this crap I want to do just a marathon. (crazy!!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Please be my strength...

Today is my 200th day on chemo.....

And to celebrate my body has completely failed me. This week has been super hard. Side effects that are usually pretty bad were worst. And I have been getting some new ones.

Instead of being sad about a bad week, I have made a video that I pray encourages you today.....

I miss my hair. I battled with it a lot in the past, but now that it is gone I miss it more than I ever thought I would. Yesterday while washing my hair a clump came out. I forgot that it could fall out again now that I am on a stronger chemo dosage. That made me so sad. Sad because it has taken months and months for my hair to grow.

It reminded me of the thousands of people out there beginning their cancer journey. I thought about all the women who are scared about what cancer will do to their hair. And I closed my eyes and prayed for them.

So I put together a little video. A video that I pray brings others hope. Hope that only our God can give them.

Be strong my friends....And find strength in Jesus......

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trouble with blogging....

I started posting years ago because of one reason: LAZYNESS. We didn't have any family living near us and I was in charge of getting new pics of babies out to all the grandparents and other families. No one was on Facebook and email was painful, so Adam hooked me up with this blog.

Now I have people all over heading over to see how I am doing. I talked about fostercare and adoption a lot before cancer. And now it feels like this blog is about cancer a lot. Which makes sense because cancer consumes a lot of our life right now.

I am trying to write about other stuff, but I have one other problem. I am on A LOT of freaky meds. Freaky meds that make me very tired and very not all the way there. My head is very fuzzy. I can't remember a lot of regular stuff. I am not smart. And I simply can't write easily. This is really hard for me and one of my top "HATES" in this cancer journey. (SO if you want to help me out, send me questions and I can answer them. That way I don't have to sit here and try to come up with stuff)

Good news I heard a rough cut of the video The Austin Stone story team is doing on this cancer journey. And it sounded great. Excited to see how God will use this story to help and encourage others. I am scared about being so raw in front of SO many people, but if it means one person sees the Gospel then my pride can be deal with it.

sneak peek:

UPDATE: I am on a higher dosage of chemo and I am doing OK! Fevers, headaches, and puking but I think that I can do it. Praying that my body gets used to it and we can keep going. Kill that cancer!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let's go ride a bike...

We are an outside kind of family. We love doing things out and about. And especially if it involves bikes. I have raced a triathlon and was training for another when I was diagnosed with cancer. Adam does a competition with a couple buddies to see how many miles he can ride in one year. And he just accepted a position with a company who is all about cycling called "Map My Fitness"(Yay Adam!). Watching the Tour de France is a 3 week event in our house each summer.

One of the reasons we love Austin so much is because this city is all about getting outside and doing something too. And this city LOVES cycling. So it is a celebration when our kids start riding with us.

Connor picked up riding a two-wheeler very quickly. He kind of just got it. He has no fear and just jumped on and went. His current love is his roller-blades and that kid is CRAZY on them. We will soon have a little half ramp so he can learn how to do more tricks. If that kids is outside on something that "goes" then he is in heaven.Bryce is another story. He does not enjoy "trying" anything new. He wants to do things that he is good at and bike riding was not one of those things. We got him a big wheel when we was 3 and he has been dominating the road on that thing ever since. And to be honest Adam and I thought that he would ride that thing forever.
But about a week ago he told me that he wanted to ride a two wheel bike(which made me a little nervous). But I wanted him to do it, so we started practicing. I let him just tool around on the bike without worrying about the pedals at first. He got used to balancing on the bike and how to put his feet down when the bike was tipping over. Then today we tried pedaling. I held onto the back of the seat for about a minute until he got the feel and then.....OFF HE WENT. He just got it. He rode all day long and was so proud of himself. And we are super proud of him too. Way to go, Bubba!
We only have one more McManus to go....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How are the kids doing?

I get asked this question a lot. And it is a good one.

The fast simple answer is "They just don't get it" and "They are doing fine." But the truth is: it is a little bit more complicated than that.

knows that I am sick. He has seen me at some of my worst moments and has even shed a few tears. But life for Connor is pretty wonderful. On my bad days he gets extra Wii time and time on the computer. We go to the gym 3X a week and he loves it there. He loves playing basketball, dodge ball, and helping the teachers. He also LOVES doing karate and is really good at it. We kept Connor at home this year and have been doing school with him. He is doing awesome. Connor is the oldest and loves being the boss, but I have loved watching him become a more compassionate and better older brother every day. He is my helper, and he is very excited about calling 9-1-1 if I ever need him to, seriously he asks quite a bit if he can call me an ambulance. Ha

doesn't understand that I am sick. But he gets that he can cuddle and lay on the couch with me A LOT and he LOVES that! And he also loves all the extra TV time. His personality is more of an at-home kind of dude, so he has loved that we stay in the house a lot more. One of our favorite things to do is coloring and drawing. I draw a picture of him and he colors it. He is the first person in the house to notice when I am having a good day and actually get dressed up, hair done, and make up on. And he still thinks that I am pretty. ( I love that)

is having the hardest time with this cancer journey. She is VERY attached to Mommy and all the hospital visits, doctor appointments, surgeries, and laying the couch have her very paranoid. I can't walk into the other room without her checking on me. It is super adorable and super kind of crazy. Poor little thing just knows something is wrong, but she doesn't know what. But because of all this time at home she is also getting pretty spoiled. I take a nap every day and so does she, so naturally we take a nap together. I haven't broken her enough to mess up her sleeping in her bed in her room at night, but naptime....yup I have broken that one. We love having a couple minutes to giggle and talk before we fall asleep. She is the first McManus kiddo who has been all about Mom, and secretly I LOVE IT! But I do worry that she doesn't understand what is going on and the fact that I can't get up to go to the bathroom without her freaking out is pretty disconcerting. Luckily, she loves going to church and the gym and has never cried there, so she can't be too broken. She also thinks that she has a headache whenever I have one too.

Because I am sick or laying on the couch more than ever, Daddy has had more and more "kid time" lately. And I love that. Dad just does the "cool stuff" and the boys especially love it. One of their favorite activities is going out into the woods and just exploring. I hate having cancer and I hate being sick and I HATE fighting so hard to live. But God is so good and He gives me these moments that make my heart sing.

It's hard having cancer at such a young age. And it's even harder being a wife and Mom. But it is not quite as hard having cancer with kids who are young. And I praise God for that. I am strong and I think that I am fighting this fight pretty well. BUT if I had to watch my kids struggle with having a Mom who is sick, that would be too difficult. I don't have to answer any "big" questions yet. They don't have any anxiety or even get what cancer is. They have never lost anyone close to them, so they don't really get that either.

So, their Mom lays on the couch more than usual. So, the littlest one REALLY loves her Mommy. So, all the kids get just a little bit more Daddy-time. So what? Connor, Bryce, and Alexis' Mommy has cancer, and it is not really a big deal.

So, when you ask me "How are the kids doing?" The truth really is..."Great."

Praise God for that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good News but NOT Great News

Last night was a BAD night. I consider myself a tough cookie, but every once in awhile chemo completely kicks my pants. I had a high fever, body tremors, killer headache, and puking lots of puking. Mentally I felt weak, very weak. There was tears, frustration, and lots of praying. I felt pretty crappy today, luckily Adam stayed home and let me rest. I needed that.

I also needed to hear some good news. So when my Doctor's office called with results from last week's biopsy I was excited.

Good News: NO NEW CANCER CELLS!!! Praise the Lord. That really would have just crushed me.

Bad News: It was not a clean result. I had abnormal cells. That could be nothing or it could be something. So we wait and we check it again.

I really wanted a clean scan and then a clean biopsy. I wanted to hear "Everything looks great, Jen. Everything is working" But I didn't hear "bad news". And I need to Praise God for that.

We have questions. Lots of questions. And will schedule a sit down with my oncology team. Mostly because I don't understand why spots keep showing up(spots that are not from the sun.) And mostly because I don't understand why my body is still struggling so badly on chemo. And mostly because I am bothered that I am still not taking the "full" dosage of chemo. Thanks again for all the prayers. We will keep fighting and continue on.....

And here is some more good news: I am a blond again. I was super excited that my hair was growing in. But I was feeling very "boy hair". So I got blond highlights and I feel much better.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thoughts from my journal....

I decided to share some of my thoughts from my journal regularly with you. I will post them on the blog and then have a special page tab so you can go straight there to see the new and old ones all together.....


Dear God,

I went in for another scan today. I really thought that this one would be completely clean. I really thought that we “deserved” good news this time. I really thought that I needed to hear that they found nothing this time. I really…….

The Doctor did find another suspicious spot. And today I was reminded that this is going to be a loooooong battle. I may not always take having an incurable cancer seriously. Today I do.

I “deserve” a lot worse. And sometimes I need to be reminded. And sometimes I need to remember that you don’t work that way. And that you have already saved me from death.

-Jan 12th, 2012

Dear God,

I can’t believe this is already my 3rd day doing chemo in the infusion room. I call it cancerland, cause that is what it feels like: a different land. The people are soooo sick here. Am I going to get that sick?

I sat next to an old man, he was alone and sad looking. I talked to him as we looked at the window. He smiled once and then took a nap.

I pretended to take a nap too. But really I just there thinking. Thinking about how blessed I am. And about how I want to share my joy with others. That fact that I can still smile as big as I do is a miracle.

And I want to share that with others……

-August 3rd , 2011

Dear God,

Bryce asked me today about his future wife.

B: Who am I going to marry, Mom?

Me: God has picked out a perfect girl for you to marry. But in a long, long, long, time.

B: Is she going to be pretty?

Me: Baby, she is going to be the most beautiful girl you have ever seen. Like a princess!

B: (huge smile on his face) Wow. God really loves me.

That was adorable. And he is right, God you do love us!!!

-Jan 15th, 2012

Dear God,

I have been the hospital for 2 days and it really feels like I will never get out of here. I am pretty high right now, so I am sure that this does not make sense.

I miss my Adam. And I wish he was here.

I am so glad that my Dad is living in Austin now. Everyday I wake up and find him visiting me. He gets up early and heads over to the hospital. He cracks me up because he doesn't wake me up, just turns on the TV, makes some coffee for himself, and sometimes munches on my breakfast. And I LOVE IT!!!

Thank you for an earthly Father that just loves me. A Daddy who wakes up early in the morning and heads over to hang out with his daughter in the hospital.

-June 17th, 2011

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where have you been, Jen?

In a short answer? I have been playing "Hotel McManus" for weeks and weeks and weeks now.

Whew that was a crazy bunch of weeks. Last summer when the holidays and family plans came up for discussion, everyone (including me) thought that it would be a WONDERFULLY AWESOME idea that I NOT travel during the holidays. I am still taking chemo shots 3X a week so I get sick a lot and have a low immune system so traveling would have been a disaster. But that also meant that I was host to EVERY family member for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Was I stressed? Nah not really, I love my family. Did I freak out? Nope, although I did make my family help cook ALL those meals. Was it hard work? Maybe. I washed more sheets, blankets, and towels than I have in years. And I cleaned my house like a mad woman. AND I took a nap everyday no matter what everyone else was doing Did you have fun? I had a BLAST and so did everyone else. RIGHT?

So that is why I have been so quiet lately. I have been loving and being loved on by my family. And without sounding too sappy and silly, it meant a lot to me. Fighting for your life forces you to look at things differently and one of those things is spending time with family. God hand picked my family just for me and this year I was reminded of that even more.
This is my Mom's family. We haven't been "all" together since my wedding 9 years ago. What a blast we had. The weather was perfect, we did all the fun tourist things in Austin, and we were VERY LOUD!

Papa and Debi live in Austin now and we love having them close by. We loved celebrating the season with them. Here we are riding our neighborhood's hayride to see Christmas lights. (That is Hotel McManus in the background, we need to step it up on lights....huh?)

Adam's parents live 3 hours a way on a boat at the BEACH!!! I love the beach. And I also love that they drive up whenever just to spend time with us. We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Granny and Granddad.
Our oldest "son" Daniel still lives with us (which me might have to do FOREVER) and he loves to invite friends over to stay at our hotel. At one point we had 13 people sleeping in our house.

Have you booked time at the Hotel McManus??? We love hosting. We love having fun sharing our city with others. We love the eating. We love the cleaning (well ok I love the cleaning) And we love loving on others. So when can I pencil you in?

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