Monthly Archives: July 2008

OK…I Admit It…

I am a bit bored in this hospital bed.  You have three pics from the party and two new posts all in one day! Hope I’m not overloading you….lol!  I’m enjoying the peace and quiet.  I’ll be ready to go home tomorrow though.



God’s Path

I had it in my mind that God was going to save me from these mastectomies.  As I drove to Ann Arbor with my MIL last Monday the story of Abraham and Isaac kept going through my head.  Surely God was doing something similar with me.  I had this really wonderful dream in my head that I would be like Isaac.  God was taking me up the mountain.   He was challenging me.  Taking me to the limit.  Seeing how faithful I was.  But at the last minute he would pull the plug.  He’d say no, not your breasts. 

We wonder about a God that could ask a man to sacrifice his own son.  Tie him up and slaughter his own son with a knife.  The larger picture shows us that it was common in other religious practices to sacrifice children for spiritual reasons.  What we learn through Abraham’s situation though is that God is setting himself apart from these other religions of the time.  The Israelites will not practice child sacrifices period.

And so I had it in my mind that God was going to do this with me.  He was going to set me apart.  He was doing something different.  He was going to take me to the limit and turn around and say “no Jen, you can keep your breasts.”  I had it all planned out.  It would be a perfect blog…..”saved from last minute mastectomies!” 

It’s never good to try and guess God’s plan for our lives.

Because the truth is, I don’t need my breasts to fulfill God’s plan in my life.  God knew I needed them for breastfeeding and that was really about it.  And an even greater truth is that God has spared my life for now and I have so much to live for. 

I’m trying to figure out why he’s spared my life.  Maybe some survivor’s guilt setting in.  I’m certainly relieved I’m cancer free and relieved he’s got other plans.  But I can’t help but ask “what for?”  “What now God?” I’m awake and alert and ready for You to reveal to me Your plans for my life.  Why am I cancer free.  Maybe it’s simply to say that God calls us to obedience.  Maybe it’s to say that no matter how hard the narrow path is, we are called to follow it.  

Two things in my life are not easy.  First is cancer, second is being a woman in ministry.  With both I am reminded that the sacrifice is never easy, but the reward is astounding.  So I will continue to trust His plan, even when I envision the path heading a totally different direction.  

Doing Well

I’m going to heed Pam’s advice and not write too much….but I wanted to thank everyone for praying.  Everything went really well.  I am not in too much pain but I keep up on the pain meds.  I did have a little allergic reaction last night and was itchy all over so we had to switch meds but am doing fine now.  It wasn’t very fun to be itchy when your arms hurt! 

I felt a huge amount of relief and peace when I woke up after surgery.  I know I made the right decision….it’s the anticipation that can really be difficult. 

Here’s another nice thing….I knew my anesthesiologist!  We were in youth group together in high school!  I had no idea he was a doctor.  The first thing I thought was….crud…he’s going to see my breasts!  Then I thought….oh well….I’m not keeping them so it doesn’t matter….lol!  I found it very comforting to know the person that would hold my life on the line and wake me up when it was all over.  I think a few of you know Dr. Zack Kirwin.  There are several nurses here from my church as well so it’s been nice to have familiar faces around.

I’ll be good and not write too much.  Thanks for your words of encouragement and your prayers and good thoughts.

Love you all!

Mission Completed – By Hubby

Sorry for the late post. The wireless at the hospital was giving fits after the last post. Jen’s surgery finished up about 11:00 am (about 2 hours ahead of schedule). The doctor said that she was still waking up but we should be able to see her in about an hour. “What A Relief.” Dr. Kalinowsky said that the surgery went well and that she didn’t encounter anything that would make her think that she was cutting “THROUGH” a cancerous area. Everything was as it should be. Went in to see Jen at about noon. She was still groggy, but what a blessing to see her talking/whispering to me. It’s hard to hold back the tears right now. It took until about 3 to get her a room (E226 at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo) and we were so grateful once we got in there. We both napped at about 3:30 and Jen woke me about 5:00. Wow, she was doing amazing. She spoke with me and a nurse we know from church that stopped by and had to get up to use the potty (kid’s term, I know, but it is all I’ve got). She figured out how to get up from the bed without using her hands or arms and was very steady on her feet. I think her recovery will be swift and blessed. Take care all do everything you can to let Jen know she is loved. —Jeremy

Surgery Day – (As written by Hubby)

Words of wisdom, have I not, but I can offer updates on my bride throughout the day.  We went to Lake Michigan yesterday after my boss & co-workers kicked me out of the office at about 12:30.  (I was hoping my stress wasn’t that evident, but maybe it was.)  We went to the library, picked up Charis and headed to South Haven for an evening of relaxation, aka “Getting our minds off of things”.  What a beautiful day to swim, play, have a picnic, and just enjoy God’s creation and family.  It is amazing how, as I looked at Jen throughout the afternoon and evening, I realized how much I adore her and how much more beautiful she is becoming.  I think back to the evening when I asked Jen to marry me.  We went to Crane Creek Park off of Lake Erie about 10 years ago.  I had, through trial and error (3 other roses), found a way to hide her ring inside a closed rose blossom.  I gave her the rose when she landed in Toledo from her trip to the west coast.  She was happily swinging the rose around as she talked, oblivious to, what I hoped was a welcome gift, inside.  We made it to the beach and we ate some pizza and snacked.  I took the rose from her and started peeling away the petals.  I told her that as I looked at the rose, it made me think of her and I.  The rose is physically beautiful now, but time was going to cause it to wither and die.  But what really matters is what the future holds based upon what is inside.  As I got the ring out, I asked her to marry me and the rest is history.  (I don’t know if I won her over for being corny, sweet, or both.)  I didn’t know then how true this was going to be and was really brought to light over the past 6 months.  Jen has demonstrated a strength, a care, a love of life that can only come from God.  She has inspired many, mostly me, through this process, just by witnessing the way she approaches life.  (Joyful, with a concern for things that God is concerned about)  I am a lucky, lucky, lucky, (did I say Lucky), lucky guy to have Jen as my bride.

So back to the updates.

Jen went into surgery about 7:30 this morning.  (Her parents and I were honored to pray for her just before they wheeled her away.)

We got a pager update at about 8:15 that surgery had started with no complications.

Our most recent update at 9:15 said “Patient is doing well.”

I will try to update after she is done again. 

Thank you for your continued prayers.



Thanks to everyone who came out for my bye-bye boob party. I had a great time. It was a beautiful evening and a perfect night for a ladies night out. We ate boob shaped truffles (thanks Christa!) and a lovely boob cake (thanks Katie!). There was a lot of laughter and chatting which is exactly what I wanted. Thanks for keeping me upbeat. I’ll post pics when I get them (thanks Christina!).
On another note my trip to Ann Arbor was today. After meeting with Dr. Merajver I have decided it would be best for me to have a double mastectomy. We discussed the high rate of reoccurrence in Inflammatory Breast Cancer and that we wouldn’t want to regret not doing everything we can to keep it from coming back. And if it does reoccur she said it likes to make itself at home and is harder to get rid of. And since it looks good so far I’m in agreement with her. She also wants me to consider more chemo after radiation. I’ll take one day at a time, but if that’s what I need to do to make sure it doesn’t come back I’ll do it.
I called Jeremy right away and he agreed he would feel better if we said goodbye to both. I told Dr. Merajver that my MIL and my mom and dad would be relieved too. They didn’t say a lot but I knew they weren’t fond of my decision to keep one.
Thankfully Dr. Kalinowski had planned an extra hour and a half for my surgery so they were able to make the change. I wonder if they deal with women like me often….as we freak about the whole situation. I wonder if women call and cancel at the last minute often?
So I’m scared, but I feel a great amount of peace. I figured there were three scenarios when I went over. The first being a mastectomy and a lumpectomy as planned, a double mastectomy or she would say great….no surgery….it looks like its gone! I desperately wanted the later but I had a feeling it would be the first. And I needed someone to be brutally honest with me. And maybe I really wanted her to tell me to get rid of them because I wasn’t strong enough to do it on my own.
I hear it’s not as bad as what you think it’s going to be so I pray that’s the truth. I’m going to keep busy tomorrow so as not to dwell on it too much.
My surgery starts at 7:30 am on the 30th and will last till noon or so. So if you think about it say a quick prayer for me, for Dr. Kalinowski and for Jeremy and my parents as they wait.

Can’t Sleep

I can’t sleep. On my way home I bought an iced coffee and forgot to ask for decaf. On the other hand it might be the impending surgery. Nothing like a little caffiene and a mastectomy surgery to keep you awake at night. The hospital sent me a letter about a CD I could pick up to help me relax as I prepare for surgery….some visualization type thing. I should have taken them up on it huh!
Actually today was a really great day. I should be tired. I took all three of the kids down to Michigan City to go to an outlet mall and then we drove up the coast of Lake Michigan to Warren Dunes State Park for the afternoon. I used to do this once in a while when I only had Charis but it seemed more challenging with more children. We did it though…and either I’m getting more patient or their just behaving better….but we all remained quite sane throughout the trip. I really enjoy these kind of days with my kids.
I met another cancer survivor on the beach today (Hi Gloria!). She finished up almost a year of chemo in June. She had lymphoma. She’s in remission now (yay!) so if you think about it say a prayer for her that it stays that way!
The other thing that happened today was that I scheduled an appointment at U of M for Monday. Yesterday I emailed the doctor I have seen over there a few tiimes. I just wanted her opinion on the surgery. She thought I should come in, and thankfully they were able to squeeze me in. I think I’ll feel a little better after a second opinion and Dr. Merajver is one of the top IBC doctors in the nation. So having her thoughts before surgery is a good thing. I’ll keep you posted on what she says.