I have been asked several times in the last month, or so, how I am doing. My typical response is, “doing good, just tired.” Those few of you that know me really well know that a response like that is merely social grease. But truth be known, I stink at lying. So to answer the question now to everyone who has been asking me how I am doing and who really want to know my honest answer, here it is: Emotionally, I am a train wrecked with worry but seem to be holding all the cars together when I am around people except Brad and a few others. Physically, I am exhausted beyond what any one of you could possibly understand, unless you yourself has or had cancer—only then would you have a distinction for my physical state. In addition to being so exhausted I am swollen all over from being hypothyroid for the past month, which has been wearing on me as well. Mentally, I am impaired and can hardly get through a sentence that makes sense typically mixing up what I mean to say, with horrible grammar and a lot of fillers, such as “uhhh” and long pauses between words. So, I don’t feel like myself, don’t look like myself, and have lost my personality somewhere in all of this as well—all adds up to not being well.
There are a few defining moments in a persons lifetime that can really impact their direction and this is one of mine. My first, and most memorable one, was on August 18, 2009 when Georgia entered the world. She was the biggest piece of my heart that I have ever seen right before my eyes. It’s amazing how you can love someone so much in an instant. I remember driving home from the hospital and going over the Roosevelt Bridge. I was sitting in the backseat next to Georgia, who was sleeping in her car-seat, and Brad was driving. Brad said to me, glancing in the rear view mirror, "you know Jen, the world is going to be a better place because of Georgia." He was right. The world, particularly ours, is a much better place because of her. The second was holding my twins last year when they were born. I am still amazed that my body made two children at the same time, and that I carried them full term--must be that Dziuban blood and our hips! They too have made an impact on my life that I never could have imagined. I have had some of the best laughs and felt more love in the time since my kids were born than any other time in my life. Seeing the twins with Georgia is just hilarious. They remind me of that movie, "Three Amigos" with Chevy Chase. The third was being told that my cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes, after having surgery to remove my thyroid. You know that sayings, "what goes up, must come down." Well that's a simple law of gravity, but just like this, life has ups and downs too. Obviously hearing I had cancer was shocking back in April, but I was sure that the doctor would get it all when she removed my thyroid, because after all it is thyroid cancer. I just never thought that it would have metastasized to my lymph nodes, even though I was told that there was a chance of it doing that.
When Brad asked me to marry him, in February of 2008, in the lifeguard stand on South Beach I felt like I was going to have this amazing long life with him and be able to have children and raise them in a loving home with Brad and I as their parents. I envisioned watching them grow up together as we grew old. It never crossed my mind that Brad and I would ever have to parent without each other, because neither one of us believe in divorce and what else could possibly cause one to be without the other??? Our stance on divorce comes directly from being raised Catholic and is the part in our vows that read, “til death do us part” which, not so ironically, proceeds "in sickness and in health," which I really never thought about until now. I just never thought that I would be thinking about dying in my 30’s and leaving Brad with our three children.
The first thing I think of is Georgia. She is so strong willed and confident. I want to see her become the person that she wants to be, which right now might be Dora but who knows. Then I think of the boys—so young and playful. Drew with his constant need to be cuddled, and Logan with his need for speed. My kids are so beautiful and honestly the best part of me is seen through them. The thought of Brad raising them on his own saddens me. It’s a thought that people say I shouldn’t have because that won’t happen, but they are not the ones sick with cancer in them. Brad is such a great dad and husband. When we said our vows we said, “in sickness and in health,” which I did actually think about but I pictured the time for this being when our kids had all grown up and moved on with their lives, when we were welcoming grandchildren into this world, not now! My kids are in diapers for Christ’s sake!
While there is a 90+% cure rate for my type of cancer, it’s still a disease to my body that has made it’s home in my lymphatic system. It poisons more than just your physical health though. This has tainted my thoughts to dark places that I didn’t even know existed in my mind. I want to come out a survivor and look back on this and thank God for all his blessings. I want to look at this and have remembered where I was the day I wrote this and what it took to overcome the hurdles to good health. Is this all a good thing? What's the lesson here? Where is the gold in this? I ask myself that everyday. Although the answers to my questions are not entirely clear yet, one thing that is clearer now than ever, is that I need to take care of this body. I need to care for it for a long time if I want to be around to see all my children grow up. Another thing that is clear to me, is that I will never be the same person once I get through this. I am a fighter for what I believe in, and what I believe in right now is survival!