Category Archives: You’ve Been Pink’d

The Pink Owl Project

What can I say…I have no time to write. For the past 6 weeks I lived and breathed nursing school, Pink Owl Project, and teaching at Spring Arbor. Jeremy and I have been living a bit like ships in the night. He started teaching at SAU as I finished last week.
But the most fascinating news with me is this crazy little Pink Owl Project. We had our first show at the Kalamazoo Art Hop on November 2. We were such a hit the Park Trades Center asked us to come back for the December 7th Art Hop!
I’m hoping that as I get my final nipple tattoos in December, my connection to breast cancer will take on a different form. I’ve been feeling healthier and stronger over the past few months and I’m excited to see if my passion for cancer research might take me somewhere….yes, there are some secrets up my sleeve…and I’ll be excited to share them if they happen!
Check out our site at:
Www.pinkowlproject.com
And don’t forget to donate to an awesome researcher at University of Michigan: Sofia Merajver.

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Under Threat!

Looking forward to reading this book….check out this article and book and the threat/assault against our breasts!

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Confessions Of A 5 Year Old

At 4 pm we made the switcheroo.

Jeremy came home from work and I ran out the door to a meeting with my web designer (it’s slow, but it is coming soon) and then to go meet with some folks for a run.

I had chicken in a marinade for Jeremy to grill, I set out some brown rice and showed him where he could find vegetables to throw in the microwave.

And I ran out the door.

Fast forward to 7:30 pm.  I arrive home and drink a gallon of water because it’s outrageously humid here in Michigan.  Then I set about looking for leftovers.  I managed to find the chicken and the rice.  “Jeremy” I yelled, were there any vegetables left? 

To this he answered.  “I didn’t make the vegetables.”

“Honey, you seriously fed the children only grilled chicken and plain brown rice?”

“Yup,” he answered.

So I heat up the leftovers, including the vegetables, which were the easiest because they were the microwavable vegetables with teriyaki sauce, and I go outside to sit on the front porch to eat my dinner.

Meleah comes out and sits next to me. 

As usual, my deep thinker asks me why God made tornados.  This of course led to a long drawn out answer from me starting with Adam and Eve and how we now know both really good and really bad.  Which of course led us to discussion on death and dying.

And my children do recognize I had a brush with death when I battled cancer and so she mentioned that I hadn’t died.

So I asked her if she would miss me if I died.  And she always gets this silly grin because the girl KNOWS how to tease, and she paused for a second and she finally said “yes mommy, I’d miss you if you died.” And she laughs.

And I say “You better miss me if I died!” 

And I went on “look, who’d cook you vegetables little girl, not your dad, that’s for sure!  And I make you breakfast and lunch and clean up after you…..”

And as I’m rambling all the reasons she should be really grateful I’m alive, she cuts me off and says in a really loud voice to make sure I hear:

“And mommy, you wipe me after I poop!”

And that my friends tells it all right there.

I knew I was good for something darn it!

“For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don’t have to make it worse—and it’s doomsday to you if you do.” (Mathew 18:2-6)

 

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Breast Cancer Survivor’s Beach Day Oath

1.  I will go to the beach and not let insecurity keep me from enjoying the sunny days of summer.

2.  I will not COVET my neighbors breasts, even the saggy ones.

3.  I will let people imagine how I got my funky tan lines.  

4.  I will make-believe that the blue dots on my chest from radiation actually do look like freckles.

5.  I will not keep hiking up my bathing suit top and sneaking peeks at my chest to make sure my scars aren’t showing.

6.  I will not care if my chest is super flat, it makes me look thin.

7.  I will find a nice bathing suit with a lining I can cut a hole in for the prosthetics instead of buying those expensive bathing suits where they cut the hole for you, Because breast cancer is expensive enough.

8.  I will live by today’s research and wear SPF approved by EWG if I’m out in the middle of the day for more than a half-hour, but if it’s less than that I won’t wear any to get my dose of VITAMIN D, which is supposed to keep cancer away. 

9.  I will try to keep up with current research just in case rule 8 changes.

10.  I will imagine people are looking at me because “I”M HOT,” and not for any other insecurity I have about my body or my chest.

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Big Scary Dog

Yesterday we went to meet the newest member of our family. He’s small a furry and a mix of yorkie and havanese. After meeting him it was 100% yes. He’s docile, doesn’t seem to bark, and he’s sweet and gentle. He likes to chew though. This comes standard in puppies I hear.

Most people get a dog before kids for practice. My decision was based on Elijah being potty trained and right about now I’m wishing fo another baby to love. That isn’t going to happen ever again, so that is how we came to a long planned decision to get a dog.

Those reasons and that I’m two years cancer free and feel like I’ll be around to see the little pup grow up. I can commit to him.

Charis has also been begging for months now.

Here’s the most challenging part of having cute little cuddly friend.

The two youngest are totally afraid of him. I’m not kidding you. It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

You can see them climbing up the couch in fear of the beast.

Any suggestions would be great!

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6 Words or Less

Last year someone mentioned coming up with my “life testimony” in 6 words or less.  As I was driving home tonight after having an hour to myself, the DJ on the radio mentioned this 6 word testimony thing again.  My old history professor at Greenville College despised wordiness.  I probably have him to thank for cleaning up my writing in college.  Although he would probably have a heart attack if he read my blog, because I am very wordy.  I create words.  Call me George W. Bush.  But I’m probably way less (even that was too wordy) wordy than I would have been had it not been for dear old Dr. J.

So as I was driving home I was thinking about what I would say if I could give a six word testimony.

And I was thinking how hard it would be, for me, to say anything in six words or less.  It may be impossible.

My first inclination is to lean toward something like:

“dark chocolate, dark coffee, dark men.” 

(My husband gets a healthy tan BTW, just for the record)

But that would be way too shallow, and I don’t want to admit that at times I lack depth.

So my second try might look something like this:

“Cancer scary, ministry scary, life scary.”

But this seems far too negative and redundant, but man, do I feel like this sometimes.  It seems like life is more scary redundant than not these days.  (If this makes sense to you then you have had repetitive hurts in your life and we are bonding through this blog right now.  Hugs dear one.)

And then I noticed that the skies were getting dark and it was about to rain, and this occurred to me:

“Weather volatile, shelter in the Son.”

And I liked it.  So that’s my six word testimony today.  Tomorrow might be different since I’m prone to changing my mind.

What’s your six word testimony?  I’d love to hear it?

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Dear Mr. H

Dear Mr H,

What a very interesting experience it was running in to you the other day.

Since my son is three, it doesn’t shock me for him to experiment in touching things. This is pretty normal for three year olds. But what did shock me was your response when he knocked down the books next to you. I’m pretty sure it shocked my son when you hissed “Jesus Christ” loud enough for half the library to hear. You see, we tend to only use that name in a respectful tone or in prayer.

So it didn’t surprise me that he ran back to me quickly.

But it did shock me….again…when you were waiting for me with my three children after we were at the help desk to get right in my face about how my son knocked books down, or how when I walked to pick them up you followed me to continue to berate me. Like you needed to make sure I knew you thought I was a bad mom.

I was shocked and numb by your actions. If you were hoping to upset a random mom in the library, you did a good job. If you hoped to ruin a young mom’s day by ridiculing normal three year old behavior, you succeeded.

But what you didn’t probably expect is that I knew you, Mr. H. You see, I took music lessons as a child from your wife. And more recently I was the woman who welcomed you to the yoga class at the cancer center and spoke positive words to you about your diagnosis and treatment. I don’t think you remembered that, or me for that matter, but I remember you.

I want to thank you Mr. H, for ruining my day, and reminding me, following cancer, that every day is a gift. Every day I have the power to do good. My words can hurt or heal. I thank God for every day that I have to be a positive influence in someone’s life.

I’m sure I shocked you when I told you I knew you from the cancer center. I did so to remind you that life is far too short to worry about someone’s else’s child knocking some books on the floor.

Or spilled milk, or being late, or what you should wear that day.

And I meant it when I told you that “you could have chosen to be nice but instead you chose to be mean.”

Thank-you cancer and thank-you Mr. H for reminding me of this.

Sincerely,
Jen

(1 Peter 1:5-7)

“So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.”

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July 7

Today I cannot play blogger. I am only mom. I spent the morning consoling a sweet little boy who couldn’t move because his neck hurt so bad. He cried to go to the doctor so I took him to a walk in clinic, who sent us on to Bronson for the pediatric specialists. Thankfully, our fears of meningitis were not realized and he is home but still clingy.

Today I’m thankful for good doctors who were kind to my son, and for the great doctors who put me back together so well that I held a 35 pound 3 year old ALL day and he had nice pillows to lay on.

I love being mom and I love being here on July 7, 2010 to comfort my children.

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If your hand is swelling, take off your ring.

What is your worst fear post-cancer?  This is an easy one.  Of course 99.9% of us would say reoccurrence.  But beside cancer coming back, which of course trumps everything else, is this:

Life Debilitating Issues

Very quickly most women accept, but don’t talk about, the number one fear.  Because most of us don’t really have a choice.  That fear would be losing any sensation in our breasts.  Now granted, we don’t need breast sensation for everyday life, but it certainly is debilitating when it comes to our sex life for sure.

The second fear, of course I’m assuming this because this would be my fear, and that is lymphedema.  Nothing made me more scared pre-mastectomy than seeing pictures and hearing horror stories of lymphedema.  I’ve always been crazy scared of life being debilitating post-cancer.

So a few months ago, one week post-surgery, I had just finished painting my daughters room, when I realized my hand was swollen.  Eek!  I immediately started crying to Jeremy.  You all think I’m really strong but really I’m a big’ol woos. 

I'm showing this picture because this is the one I sent to my plastic surgeon. His first response. Take off the rings. It takes a Harvard education to realize you should TAKE OFF YOUR RINGS WHEN YOUR HAND IS SWELLING...LOL!

There’s a really long story here about me freaking out, and how poorly I handle a little swelling.  But you might fall asleep.  I did learn something through it that I’ll share with you:

A.  Remain calm.  If you’ve never had swelling before, chances are it will resolve itself.

B.  Wrap the swelling and elevate.  I put my compression sleeve on because that is the only thing I’d been given.  It did nothing for the swelling in my hand.  Your local drugstore has tape that sticks a little when you wrap it.  You can unwrap it and re-wrap it.  So wrap in so it’s snug but not too tight.

C.  See your family doctor.  Mine was concerned it might be an infection so he prescribed antibiotic.  But a family doctor can also refer you to physical therapy or a lymphedema specialist. 

D.  Be purposeful about getting that referral.  Here’s why:

For a year or so I’ve had reoccurring pain in my hands.  Both sides.  It felt like the skin hurt on the back of my hands and lower arms and then under my armpits.  I let it go because any time I mentioned it, no one seemed to know what it was.  I started to think it was just something I should learn to live with, after all “I had mastectomies, right.”  I just figured it was the way it was.  I couldn’t possibly hope to be pain-free, right?

Wrong!

That is terribly wrong think’in.  Don’t live with pain.  Haven’t I always said you need to be your own advocate?  Why don’t I take my own advice?  The pain in my arm was probably a sign of circulation issues, even if no one else had experienced that pain.  My hand swelled because it was tired of being ignored.  Another symptom I had was numbness and tingling in my hands….again, just thought I needed to learn to live with it.

I started physical therapy for “thoracic outlet syndrome” almost 6 weeks ago and I haven’t had pain or swelling since.  We’re still working on the numbness.  I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to be pain-free.  Some of the things she’s working on with me is posture.  Without a double mastectomy we have poor posture, but women who have had mastectomies or breast work tend to try to hide it by bad posture.  I’m learning to stand up straight, and who knew I had muscles in my back that needed to be strengthened!

So the moral of this story is: don’t live with pain ladies.  Seek help. 

Oh….and take off your ring if your hand swells!

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Transparency in Blogging

Transparency.  How much is too much when it comes to blogging?  I was thinking about this yesterday after stopping by to visit little Gideon who has just been diagnosed with Leukemia.  His mom, Amanda, has been blogging and I mentioned to her that I was enjoying reading the updates through the blog.  In an apologetic tone she said something to the effect that she was too transparent.  Like she had given too much information.

I felt just the contrary about her blogging.  I was thankful she was so transparent.  I really want to know how Gideon is doing and how Tom and Amanda are holding up especially in these initial days of diagnosis. 

But even now I look back at my own blogging I worry that at times I was too transparent.  Like maybe I lacked an appropriate filter.

But every time I start thinking I’m writing nonsense, I get another email telling me how much I’ve helped someone, how much they enjoy my blog, and I keep writing.  And I keep trying to be transparent.

Here’s why I think it’s so important for Amanda to be real with us.  A few things I’ve learned along the blogging/cancer journey and how blogging benefits everyone.

1.  We want to know.  Our heart hurts for Gid right now.  He is such a sweet precious boy and we want to know how we can pray, and we desperately want to know how we can help ease the burden they carry right now.  

2.  It puts life in perspective.  It reminds us that life is short and precious.  It softens our hearts.  It helps us evaluate our priorities and put life in perspective. 

3.  It’s good for the soul I’m an extrovert.  There’s no denying I like to talk.  But even I had difficulty keeping up after diagnosis.  There were times I didn’t know what to say in person.  But I could be real with the computer screen for some reason.  I learned I could let my feelings flow and my friends were reading and responding.  We’ve been trained to answer the question “How are you,” with the proverbial answer “good.”  In person, for some reason, either I was afraid of seeing their reaction when I told them the truth, or I hit 10 birds with one stone, blogging fit for me, and it made me feel better.

4.  You never know who you might be helping by blogging.  Next week, somewhere, some mama is going to start her day, and by the end of the day she’s going to find out that her son/daughter has leukemia.  Reading blogs helps her know what to expect.  I think in some way, feeling like I was helping someone else with their diagnosis helped me get through mine.

So where do you set the filter with “too transparent?”

Here are some of my thoughts on that, because I’m of the generation that thinks “real” is good, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the blogging journey.

1.  If it will make you blush later on, you might not want to write it.  From experience I have a few of those.  But my blog dealt with breasts.  I think sometimes I wrote too much when I was on my pain meds. 

2.  If it will hurt someone, bite your tongue.  I think openness is a good thing.  But blog about yourself and be very cautious about picking out a person or group if you are angry.  Walk away from blogging for a few days if you’re tempted to vomit your disgust.  Be careful about writing about a doctor you weren’t happy with.  They are real people and they can make mistakes.  The best way to get even with a doctor is to simply find another one, not ruin their career by writing about it in open cyber-space.

So here’s the question of the day.  What attracts you to blogs?  Why do you read specific blogs?  Information, transparency, obligation?  Any suggestions I missed in this post?

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