It has been three months since my amazing daughter Jenna was diagnosed with Stage 3 Metastatic Ductal Carcinoma (Invasive Breast Cancer), and at the time I thought “Hmmm, endurance…. that is what will see me through!”
.I was wrong. The past three months have required little or no endurance on my part. My life has been showered with so many unexpected blessings.
The first blessing has been Jenna. She has made up her mind to take on this beast, but I can’t say with a vengeance. She is taking on this disease with more positivity than I could have ever imagined. Her attitude has been one of “Bring it on. I’m gonna win through every step of process”, which is an attitude I never even knew existed!
She has been in a great mood daily, a better mood I must admit than her parents. Lou’s back was hurting the other day and he was a bit forlorn. She had company coming in that afternoon from Colorado, but decided that day she’d spend the entire day cleaning his office to cheer him up! Lou’s parents moved into an assisted living facility a week ago, and she spent days doing the paperwork for them and talking to them gently through their rough transition. On and on. She was coming out here so that we could support her, but alas she is supporting us!
The second blessing has come in the form of Jenna’s friends who have come to visit, mostly for weekends - from all over the country (mostly her Colorado family). Actually, the house has been full of houseguests every weekend for the past 10 weekends, and we have loved it! I don’t know how she has managed to collect so many good “kids” in her life, but damn! The house is hopping with fun, love, laughs, meals and games, and lots of creativity. These kids are all something special and they truly have made our new house a home.
The third blessing has been Dana-Farber Hospital, which I always took for granted.
Jen says to me every time we go that it is her safe place. Who knew?
The level of professionalism in that place from greeter to surgeon to valet parking attendant to cafeteria worker is out of this world. Everyone cares. Everyone takes pride in their work. Everyone goes the extra step at all times to make sure that Jen and her friends and family are comfortable.
I even got a free acupuncture session and a warmed blanket at one of her treatments. I can’t express how grateful I am for that hospital. At every chemo appointment, one of Jenna's friends have joined her, along with me and/or her dad. She is never alone.
Put all those blessings together and many more and I can tell you honestly that I have never felt so much love surrounding me in my life as I do now. My faith in people has been revived x10! I’ve always known that love is the answer to any problem, but this whole experience has proved that to me more than ever before. Yes, love is the silver lining. Adversity is ugly, but when you are surrounded by love, it is completely bearable, and it takes you to new levels of learning and gratitude. This silver lining has swept me off my feet.
Jenna’s Facebook Health Update from 3/29/18:
"From CO to Dana Farber in Boston. Today is treatment #5/6 of the TDM1 clinical trial. Doc says “tumor is so much smaller, so much better”. She is very happy with my response to the clinical trial drug. She said “you are doing everything right- which is helping this drug do its job”. The tumor has gone from 9x12cm to 4x5cm.
Here’s what is to come: - APRIL 19: Final clinical trial treatment (6/6) - MAY 14: Surgery (mastectomy) - JUNE-OCT: Chemotherapy (16 rounds weekly & biweekly (AC-TH for 5 months) - NOV-JAN: Radiation (6 - 8 weeks, everyday) - Months following: Hormone and antibody therapy - July 2019: more surgery
I asked why I can’t just continue on the clinical trial rather than having to lose my hair and go through the side effects of the AC-TH. Doc says my body would not be able to handle it. I am advised to do the 16 rounds of chemo after surgery to clear remaining cancer cells that are throughout my body because “you have a very advanced, aggressive cancer with a very large tumor, and there is a lot of cancer in your body”.
I have a team of so many docs: Oncologist, Oncological Functional Medicine Doc, Integrative Doctor, Naturopath, Therapeutic Ketogenic Diet Practitioner, Oncology Acupuncturist, Surgeon, Fertility Doc, Dendritic Cell Immune Therapy Doc, and surprisingly more. I am taking this from the East to the West and everything in between. Saying my mantra, “Cancer, you are no longer welcome here...be gone”. I had one of my very best friends with me today during chemo treatment (Maryellen). We laughed about how fucked up this is we are here. Love you Maryellen Mahaney Weeks. And of course thank you Mom and Dad 🌈💘🙏🏻🌅. #itsmelting #curable #temporary #goingagro #fuckcancer #maryellencrawledintoinfusionbedwithme"