waiting game

For my own sake, I’m flashing back and recording the events that led us here. If you’re confused, check out the timeline. It might help.

The biopsy was on a Thursday. I had to wait until Monday to get results. Waiting over a weekend can be difficult. One thing that I did to help was play a little game called “I don’t have cancer yet”.

It’s so weird to think that the kids didn’t know we were waiting for results. They are so a part of this now. 

Friday was Phoebe’s Kindergarten graduation. (By the way, she rocked Kindergarten, but we enrolled her when she was four at a small Catholic school with the intention to repeat Kindergarten at the K-12 school our other children attend.) Afterwards, Phoebe and I raced across town to make it to Jillian’s second grade medieval feast. My heart was heavy while I pretended to act kind of normal at these events.

Saturday, accompanied by my sister and nephew, we went to the Flint Hills Family Festival in downtown St. Paul. The day before I’d noticed a commercial on PBS about this event. Oh, there’s something going on in town to get my mind off waiting for cancer results. Let’s do that thing. Food trucks, costumed folks on stilts, departing the beaten path and exploring downtown after watching a show at the Ordway…It was all a good round of “I don’t have cancer yet” That night, I took my girls to see a school play, Annie. It was my favorite childhood musical, so indoctrinating the girls felt productive.

Sunday, I had kitchen duty at church. After making coffee and plating doughnuts, I sat in the pew and thought, “I’m going to be Pastor Bryan’s first funeral.” I’m not always that good at “I don’t have cancer yet”. I took Jillian to her best friend’s birthday party. And then Phoebe and I went to little Rosie’s 2nd birthday party where I struggled against saying anything to friends. But, I didn’t want to bring down the mood for something that wasn’t even certain. And, honestly, it’s nice to just let a party be a party.

Monday morning, Phoebe and I met Michele and her youngest son at the Minneapolis farmer’s market. I needed more flowers to plant. Must get a garden in before the catastrophe hits. Then we headed to Linden Hills for lattes and Wild Rumpus (a children’s book store that everyone must visit because they have animals, specifically a free range chicken or two). I don’t have cancer quite yet…but it’s coming…gotta get Phoebe to her afternoon camp. So, we parted ways.

Monday afternoon, planting flowers in the backyard. It’s getting later. I know that bad news is coming. If it was good news, they’d call right away. But, they have to get certain things in order, I reason. I get the call from a nurse. “Are you in a place that you can talk?” Game over. It’s definitely bad news. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. No stage. Both samples were cancerous. We will make you an appointment for Thursday with an oncologist and a surgeon. “Oh, ok….Thank you…Take care…” I say these things because I feel so badly for her that she has to tell people bad news so often. I want to be easy for her.

I call Brent. No answer. He’s in a meeting. I call Sarah. Sarah doesn’t even know there’s a threat. It goes to voicemail. Thank God. She doesn’t need to know yet, not like this. I call my sister, text my parents in Romania, call Molly, I text Michele, I think. Maybe I called. I can’t remember. Brent calls back, “Well, what did they say?”

“I have cancer.” It felt so dramatic to say that. Like I could have toned it down a bit. I am still getting used to this months later. I have cancer?

Liz shows up. I think that’s the order of things. She sits with me until Brent gets there. Is that right? And then Brent and I go pick up Phoebe from camp. I can’t remember…I think that’s how it went. We hold off on telling most people, because we don’t have answers to the natural questions. The next few hours are a blur. But, the late afternoon and evening memories are somewhat clear. I’ll write about them soon.

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5 thoughts on “waiting game

  1. I’ve read this twice and have forwarded your blog site to at least 3 other friends. There are things you say that I feel I could only think (“like I could have toned it down a bit…”). But when you say them, I feel knit to you in some inexplicable way. Then I pray for all of it–things I know. Things I don’t know. And that Holy Spirit prayer that can seem so odd when things are fine and so beautiful when they’re not. “Holy Spirit. This. You know how to do This. Do it for Jenna. Amen.”

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  2. Hi Jenna,

    My name is Erinn Guggenheimer, and a mutual friend of ours (Jessica Hillstrom) send me a link to your blog. I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer back in January. January 23rd, to be exact…like you, those dates/memories/feelings are burned in my mind. When Jessica sent me a link to your blog the other day, I read all your posts in one sitting– reading what someone in a similar circumstance is going through was really cathartic to me. I live in Minnetonka and am married with two little boys. I’m 33 years old.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts/feelings out there for others to read. I have a CaringBridge page that my husband and I have kept updated as we go through the treatment process. Feel free to look it up if it would be helpful, or if you’d like to get in touch, please email me or comment on my CaringBridge page.
    Best of luck on your treatment plan. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    Erinn

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    1. Thank you for leaving your comment. My thought as I was reading was “Thank you, God, for Erinn.” I’ll check out your caring bridge. We will meet in person. I just know it.

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