still more

I think I finally feel at peace with this process. I’m still afraid, and I’m not looking forward to treatment, but I know now that whatever it throws at me, I can handle.

Part of this new inner calm comes from my support group. The first ever meeting of the first ever breast cancer support group at Kaiser was held on Monday. (They host events for the American Cancer Society, but this effort seemed internal.) I didn’t even know how to begin looking for one until I spotted a notice in Dr. Yee’s office. I didn’t know what to expect, and wasn’t sure I was going to go, but I am so glad I went. I didn’t know how much I needed a support group until now.

There were fewer than ten of us in the room, more hospital staff and volunteers than patients. One of them was a nurse; another a social worker. There were a few long-time survivors in attendance, but only two other recently treated women.

I truly hope to see more of these group sessions. I’m afraid of seeing the group flounder or end from lack of interest. I think Kaiser is offering an invaluable service. I hope I can get the word out and get more people to go… and not just patients, but also family members of patients. Family are often even more confused than the patients themselves, I imagine.

I learned a lot during the meeting. I think the most important thing I took away is that this process will be yucky and uncomfortable, and some days will be hard, but I know now that I can still live my life. I’d heard from friends before that their loved ones were still able to go to their jobs and work out while getting treatment, and the people in front of me were saying the same. I heard many stories, and came away feeling upbeat.

One of the nurses in attendance said she’d stop by during my treatment tomorrow. Almost everyone in the room gave me a phone number. I know that at any moment, I’ll have someone to turn to for advice, and that’s such a great comfort.

The main speaker at this particular meeting was the aforementioned social worker, and I was reminded of my late friend Ryan, who was also a social worker at Kaiser. Yesterday happened to be the anniversary of his passing. I thought about some of the advice he may have had for me… delivered with wry humor, of course. Ryan was a good friend, and I watch people around me miss him everyday. Chemo isn’t perfect, but it’ll help me live longer, and living longer is better than to have people have to miss me.

I also thought of the scary things I might face in the next few weeks. I know it’s the best medical science can do today. But I also know that someday, there will be a better way.


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Yesterday was my port placement procedure. I was at the hospital from 8 am until 1 pm, but much of that time was spent waiting. The procedure itself was very simple. It lasted forty minutes, at the most. I barely remember it… though that may have been the anesthesia.

It was so simple that I thought, at the very end, “Is that it?” After it was over, I was wheeled back into the room, impatient to leave, but was told that I needed to wait several hours so that they could watch for bleeding.

When I was sent home, I was told to sleep partially elevated for the night, and that all the usual disclaimers about aspirin and showering applied. I settled myself onto the couch, thinking that the whole thing seemed pretty anticlimactic. Until I stood up. It HURT. The pain came on so fast, and was so ferocious, that I found myself calling my oncologist to ask for pain medication.

I had to remind myself that it was, technically, surgery, and that, naturally, it hurt after.

One thing I’m learning is to not ignore my body. Many of us have trouble letting go and heeding signals to rest or eat well or take care of ourselves. I end up paying the price big time if I’m not careful, especially now.


My first chemotherapy treatment is tomorrow. I swing wildly back and forth between bright-eyed optimism and abject terror. Even today, at my appointment with the pharmacist, the sheer volume of the information given to me was overwhelming, inducing embarrassing tears.

But right now, I am relaxed, again. Eager to just get it over with, again.

I’m so glad I had Ryan with me today. I needed him more than ever, and he was amazing. As the nurse spoke to me, he took pages of notes and asked questions, and while I wish he didn’t have to take charge, I’m glad he is.

After the appointment, we met Ryan’s coworkers for an appreciation luncheon, and I had yet more sushi.

It was perfect timing, as the sushi ban starts tomorrow. For tonight, Ryan’s squeezing in my other food vice: bloody as hell steak.

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14 responses to “still more

  1. Glad you are getting support, that groups sounds like a big plus. Praying for y’all!

  2. I’ll be praying for you tomorrow! Thanks for being so honest every step of the way. I am also reminded of a friend who went through cancer treatments..

  3. Hi Jen…. just found your blog, and I want you to know that I am praying for your complete healing. I’m sorry you have to go through this, but am grateful that your wonderfully supportive husband Ryan and your kids are there with you. May God bless you with peace and healing…

    Mokihana

  4. Hi Jen, (not sure if my previous post went through.. if so, just delete one of them). I just found out about your diagnosis… I am and will be continuing to pray for you. I’m so grateful that you have such a wonderfully supportive husband Ryan and your keikis there with you. I will be praying for your complete and total healing. Count on it.

    Aloha pumehana,

    Mokihana

  5. Just another LOST fan thinking of you from across the internet– all my best wishes, Jen! I don’t know if this little quote will be helpful (is that the word?) but I find it interesting to think on sometimes. And hey, 18th century English poetry! (Now where did I put my hipster glasses…)

    So man, who here seems principal alone,
    Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
    Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal:
    ‘Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
    -Alexander Pope, Essay on Man

  6. Hi Jen. Great to hear you found a support group. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow, sending you warmth and strength. Cheers to that bloody steak!

  7. Will be thinking of you tomorrow. One of my coworkers is a young mom who is going through her second bout with colon cancer. She just blogged about how different it is this time around due to the support system–she’s at Cancer Centers of America and they have a whole team dedicated to minimizing her side effects with all kinds of therapy. She’s tried stuff she is unsure of (acupuncture) as well as different meds and nutrition. Bottom line is: make sure you have a TEAM that works with you–and it sounds like the support group, psych. etc are all there for you. Is there a Wellness Community in your area? Also, for those weeks when you’re not up to it and your family is busy, there’s http://cleaningforcancer.org/

  8. jeannemariepics

    I’m glad you went to the support group. It’s so important be around people going through the same thing even though you don’t always want to 😉
    I can so see Ryan taking notes and asking questions about your treatment…pondering if there’s an app for keeping track of it all!
    Peace, Love n light to you doll…

  9. I know I can speak for all your podcast fans from over the years when I say, “Power to you and your supportive family for being so brave”. We are all sending positive vibes and prayers your way.

    As an entertainer you have given so much to us & it sucks that all we can give in return is moral support.

  10. Jen, Praying for you daily since your initial announcement. You have a lot of people rooting for you.

  11. Hi Jen,

    Just a thought,,when I was on chemo several years back, i got gumdrops and lemon drops. You may experience a metallic taste after chemo and if you do, the gumdrops and lemondrops help. I also forced myself to take a walk after chemo days..come home from chemo. rest for a bit, then get up and walk and it wasnt a far walk, a walk down the street to get the mail was all it took, but learned that when walking, your body gets oxygenated and helps with the recovery process (that was my experience anyhow)..

    sending prayers and positive vibes your way!
    mel

  12. I’m so glad that you found a support group, and that you are feeling optimistic about your treatment. Praying that it goes well for you today.

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