the facts: it went better than expected

One down, 15 to go. Here’s how today went:

8:30 Blood draw in my brand new port. I was so scared. It still felt so tender from the surgery.  But it was absolutely fine. As childish as it sounds, the verse I clung to was,”Be strong and courageous.” I kept repeating it in my head. I reminded myself that I’d been prepared for this with those stupid staples I got in my head a week before I found the lump. Of course! These staples which seemed so stupidly pointless were actually grace. They have become a reference point.  I could handle the staples. Therefore, I could be brave for the port (And with sedation! And lidocaine!). I can endure one poke in a tender new port (so that I can get a treatment that could save my life). It was fine. Seriously. And I’m publicly thanking God for the stupid staples.

9:00 Meeting with nurse that looks young enough to be my daughter. She was great though. This was to discuss the what to expect and when to expect the onset of chemo side effects. Everyone responds differently. We don’t know which ones I’ll struggle with. And as for when, it’s usually a few days after chemo. I’ll most likely have nausea, mouth sores, lose my hair (even my eyebrows and eye lashes), and fatigue. Since this was my first chemo, I hadn’t eaten because I was afraid that I would regret it and get especially sick. I asked the nurse how risky a cup of decaf would be. She hesitated and said, “Do whatever you feel like, but I just don’t want coffee ruined for you. Some people eat their favorite food and then get really sick and it ruins it for them.” Who needs a cup of decaf that badly? I passed.

10:00 Lag time between appointments. Walked with Brent along East River Parkway. We mainly talked about the amazing timing of this cancer. If it had to come, there are lots of reasons why now is really good. For instance, our trip to Florida landed at the exact best time possible between diagnosis and treatment. Also, the chemo I’m taking during the summer is not as hard hitting as the chemo I take just days after they start back to school. That’s just a few examples. 

10:30 Chemo floor. Each patient has an area with a recliner and chair that is partitioned off by a curtain. There was a TV we didn’t use. There was a big window I never looked out of in the six and a half hours we were there. I was given three chemo drugs, one at a time. Because it was my first time, they administered them slowly and gave time for observation in between. I was given bigger doses-“loading doses”-than I will get in the future. This was a long chemo day. I wondered if I would be emotional when they started the first one. It turns out I was too busy cracking up with Brent about hospital food and how chemo was going to ruin it for us 😉

A highlight was seeing my sister’s best friend, Tanya, who I’ve known since I was 16. She’s a nurse practitioner in oncology who supervises a buttload of nurses all over the metro in the Fairview system (I think!). When she was explaining her job, I was in Benadryl lala land woozing out in my recliner. Even still, she was a comfort. How strange it must have been for her to see her bestie’s kid sister receiving chemo right there in her hospital. 

The only glitch was that I had a wee bit of an allergic reaction to one of my chemo drugs. It was minor. A few tiny hives. Nurses do not mess around. I had to have more Benadryl. They called it a day and didn’t let me finish the Taxol. But I’d had most of it. Please pray that I do not have any more allergic reactions. This chemo is kind important 😉

5:30 We walked back to the car and went home. We went for a walk while waiting for our amazing friends to transport happy kids back home to us. We were blessed with good hospital care, amazing friend care, beautiful family care, and God’s big hands holding us up.

Oh and thanks to steroids they administered, I feel better than I did when I woke up on chemo day. The effects of them will wear off, but I’m so thankful to feel good. There’s a cruel little voice in the back of my head trying to remind me that it IS going to get ugly. But these days are rather easy and it is crucial to me to stay in the moment. Fear of tomorrow’s pain is not allowed to rob me of today’s good blessings.

And now for the educational portion! (Stop looking now if you get the heebie jeebies easily like me!)

This is what my port looks like: 

Here’s what it looks like on X-ray (thanks, Google images).

Here’s mine all tucked away inside. Just below the bigger incision, is the port they use to draw blood and do the chemo infusions. It’s one of the cancer patient’s frenemies. Not fun going in, but it makes my life a lot easier.


19 thoughts on “the facts: it went better than expected

  1. Thankful for this. I’ve wanted to know everything but didn’t want you to have to explain it a million times. I love you so much. You are so brave and amazing. Thankful for little blessings in the middle of hard things.


  2. Oh my god. Your attitude is so fricking inspiring. A prayer went up about the allergies. No more of those thanks. God bless. I’m grateful you have Brent in your life.


  3. Thank you for letting us in, Jenna. Your family is so awesome, may God bless and carry you through this. Anytime I think of you and Brent together, you are laughing:-) Best.

    P.S. You’re going to make hairless look so bae;-)


  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog to keep us in the loop. I’m thinking about you and praying for you constantly and I’m grateful for this way of feeling connected. 🙂 XOXO


  5. Thanks so much for having this blog so I will know exactly how to pray for you. Keep holding on to Him as He will be there every step of the way. Write down and read Bible verses over and over again that will be so helpful for when you need them at the time.


  6. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”
    Our family are all concerned for all of you. You are daily in our prayers. Hold on to Him, He will carry you. You are loved by so many, and the prayers of these, are not powerless. Martha


  7. Thank you for letting us be apart of your journey. Prayers and love for you and your family from Pennsylvania! XO the De Walls


  8. Jenna!! This is wonderful! Of course I want to know how every day is for you, but don’t want to bug. Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this for all of us who love you SO dearly! Your heart is precious. Praying that you can rest in the very strong hands that are holding you. ❤


  9. Jenna,
    Thank you so much for keeping us all posted on this. So much prayer is coming your way. You are inspirational! May God cover over you and Brent and your kiddos with His healing power and a peace that transcends all understanding.


  10. I read your entries twice. At least. And then I ask myself, “What was it about that song?” “What did she say to herself after she put on Brent’s sweatshirt?” So I reread the parts that felt like they went deep for me. And….I love you.


  11. Jenna,

    Your good humor and trust in the Lord is more encouraging than I am sure you can know. I am praying and thinking much of you and your family.



  12. Hi Jenna – Colleen here (Neely’s friend you met at OPH that was going through chemo for breast cancer this winter). Shaking my head as I am reading this – all very familiar. You will get through it – if you need anything or have any questions – please reach out to me. Neely has my contact info. You will get through it!


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