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The Grateful Tree

Today, I am over at my friend Becky’s blog writing about my daughter’s grateful tree. You can read the post here.
 

 
Growing up, I always thought that I was such an easy child to raise. My parents hardly had to do anything, as I made good grades and was obedient. Except for the time that I seriously protested the family dinner when my parents started the Fit For Life craze diet in the 80s, I was a pretty perfect child. You would have protested the special mayo and alfalfa sprouts combo in the Pita bread as well, trust me.
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Dear Miss Martha – I don’t want a month, I want a cure

Ah, October. The month that I, as a Phoenician, look forward to every year. It’s typically the time that temperatures are finally under 100 degrees and I can finally walk outside again without risk of heat stroke. I crank my air conditioner to 70 degrees, just so that I can bundle under blankets, order a pumpkin spiced latte, and post a picture to instagram to feel that I somehow have something in common with all my east coast friends taking pictures of red leaves, scarves, and pumpkin patches.
 

 
When I crawl out from all my blankets, put my shorts and flip flops back on and step outside into the Phoenix fall world, I immediately feel assaulted by the blanket of well intentioned people wearing head to toe pink. Pale pink, blush pink, and neon pink. Doesn’t matter the shade, it’s just an assault to my eyes. October is no longer the month that ushers in fall, it’s the month that every grocery store looks like it came directly from the set of the Steel Magnolias movie when Julia Roberts got married in a sea of pink Pepto Bismol.

The phone calls come pouring in from telemarketers and neighbors trying to collect money for their organization of choice or another 3 Day Walk. Because who do you call when you want money to fight cancer? That’s right, you call a person who has or has had cancer, because they surely want a cure, right?

I was doing ok with the first couple of days of October until yesterday.
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In Memory of Andrea

A couple of months ago I received a kind note from Stacy Clark telling me about her best friend Andrea who was bravely fighting liver cancer. Stacy was broken hearted as she had just received the news that Andrea’s cancer had spread to her lungs. Stacy asked if I had any advice for her as a friend and if I could share any words with Andrea on her Facebook update page.
 

 
Jeff and I joined her update page and committed to praying for Andrea and her family. Andrea’s love for her family was evident from the start. Andrea loved her husband Dave and her two young sons, Gino and Rocco. (more…)

Happy Tax Day!

Yesterday, marked 7 years since I heard the words, “Your cancer is gone. It is in remission.” My 6 foot 7 inch Jewish oncologist told me those words in his South African accent which I had grown to love.

I looked down at my watch at that moment that those treasured words were spoken and I saw the date was April 15th.

I remember laughing because it’s tax day in America, typically a day most Americans aren’t quite crazy about. But I am forevermore enamored with tax day. Another April 15th has come and gone which means that I am still breathing and living life. And for that I am deeply grateful.

So initially I was going to write a jingle about 7 things I learned from cancer or some other yada yada yada to offer my readers something because that is what bloggers are supposed to do! But I’m feeling led to share something completely different.

This past month God has been working on my heart. I’ve always been a decent person who often makes the best ethical/moral choice. But I have always struggled with dependence, especially on God. I have been asking Him to help me see my life and His plan for my life through His eyes. I was raised in church, but have been disappointed in people who do unkind things in the name of Christianity and other religions. But to be honest, I’ve used that as an excuse not to really look at my own heart and shortcomings.

So last week I read an article from Tara about spending time away from my computer and I thought, I need to do that. And I felt an urging from God to just turn my computer off. And I did… for 90 minutes until I just needed to check one more thing. An hour later my entire hard drive crashed. My computer is only 9 months old and had never given me any sign of trouble. So I took the “forced” break that I so desperately and unknowingly needed. And I knew it wasn’t a coincidence.

Within the same week I was approached about being featured in a local magazine and sharing my story. Then 2 hours later I received an email about interest in publishing my story about how I met Jeff, our cancer journey, and our journey towards living an intentional life. These were supposed to be exciting things with possible exciting things for the future, right?

But I felt like I heard nothing. Nada. No direction on where God was wanting me to go. Like God, where are you? The fear of the unknown was essentially paralyzing and I was somewhat discouraged at not hearing His voice.

Jeff and I met with some friends and really prayed, tears were shed, and some answers were received. We have been through an enormous amount of trials in our 12 years of marriage. We know how immeasurably blessed we are, but we both went to that meeting beyond exhausted. After this meeting we were given this book of daily devotions that take about 90 seconds to read each day. Powerful.

This might sound strange as I don’t often voice my prayers or much about my spiritual beliefs on this blog, but I poured out my heart. I literally waved a white flag in the air and hit my knees.

God, I know that you love me as Your word tells me so. But given what Jeff and I have been through these past 12 years, do you like me?

God, what do you want me to do? Am I supposed to be blogging, writing, nursing, or grow in my role as mom and wife?

God I am tired. I’m at my limit of bad news and trials. I know people have it much worse than I do, but I’m tapped out. (This is where the white flag came out).

And then part of the passage I read on April 11th – the day I received my devotional book.

“To find Joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four-hour segments. I understand human frailty, and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant Life in My Presence today.”
 

 
After that meeting, Jeff took my hand and said, “Please come with me and follow me on the rest of this journey. Let’s look at the unknown as exciting rather than daunting.” I’ve been really wanting to flee and runaway. Sometimes fleeing is easier than staying and working through the muck. {To clarify: I’m referring to life trials in general, not our marriage or family.}

I would like to tell you that I have received many more revelations but I have received very little other than “just be and wait”. Any of you who have read this blog for any length of time, know that I am a doer. Give me a list, and I can check that thing off quicker than anyone else I know. Just “being” is a foreign, but necessary word in my new vocabulary.

I don’t feel as if God is telling me that my life list is wrong or useless, only that He has additional plans for my family and that I need to spend time just being so that I know what those are when He is ready to reveal them.

So today I’m thankful for life, for my family, a new computer, and for you. And I’m lifting my iced tea glass up in cheers for 50+ more tax days!

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

Everyone has a story

I’m not a dreamer. I can only recall maybe 5 dreams my entire life. I think part of the reason I don’t dream at night, is because God says I need to take a break from dreaming during the day. You see, I dream ALL day long. My mom often tells me my head is in the clouds. That’s ok, because I think it’s those dreams and hopes that have carried me through some very difficult times.

To understand my dream from last night, I need to tell you this story. This story is about a very strange encounter, that to this day makes me scratch my head. It was just plain strange.

A little over 3 years ago, Jeff and I were shocked when we found out we were pregnant with Samantha. I had been in remission from cancer for 4 years. Seven months into my pregnancy I started showing some signs of preterm labor. I was working full time and finishing my Master’s Degree full time. I was overloaded, so showing some preterm labor signs wasn’t too surprising. I woke up one morning and realized I had absolutely nothing for Samantha if she arrived early. My baby shower was still a couple of weeks away, so I took the day off of work, loaded the kids in the car, and headed towards the local baby mart. My goal was to get a can of formula, diapers, bottles, and one package of onsies, if the little tyke arrived early. After 3 kids, I knew those few things were all I would truly need.

 

 

I was almost done with my shopping when we arrived in the formula aisle. Rebecca and Emily were looking at all the options and asked which variety we were buying. I responded, “Rebecca, grab the Enfamil. That’s what I used with you after I nursed you.” And that’s when it happened. A complete stranger handed Rebecca a business card and introduced herself as the Vice President of the local breastfeeding league. My ears kind of perked up, because I was intrigued as to why someone would approach an 11 year old girl instead of me, the parent.

Rebecca walked over to me and handed me her business card with huge brown, dilated eyes. I looked down at the card, took the Enfamil from Rebecca’s hands, placed it in the cart and gathered the kids to head towards the checkout aisle. As we passed the lady, she tapped me on my shoulder, and exclaimed, “You know… breast is best.”
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My gift

This is a long post but if there was ever a post I would recommend reading the entire story, this is it.

My prayer on the way to work this morning was to be a gift to my patients. I have been suffering a bit from pre-retirement fever. I’m really wanting to just blog full time, but my patients deserve my best and that was my prayer.

I worked in triage in the emergency room and it was a steady day. At times it was a bit crazy. Mid day, I checked in a young lady, “Meg” who was battling cancer. When I was almost done with Meg’s assessment, her husband, “Dave”, approached us. He had gone to park the car while I was doing the infamous computer work and asking the annoying, yet necessary repetitive history questions that are painful for a patient with a serious illness.
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Jeff’s Guest Post: What you can learn from our cancer journey

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it has been almost 7 years since Jenny finished her cancer treatment. It actually feels like it has been significantly longer than that. I wish that the diagnosis and treatment process were clear in my mind. That year of my life is a blur. It is like someone took an eraser and crudely erased the handwritten manuscript that was my life during that time and all that is left is the permanent impressions of the pencil on the paper. I often try to think about what I learned and what I could possibly teach other people from our cancer experience. While there are countless lessons, here are three things that I want you to know.

 

 

I want people to know that:

I am a more serious person because of the cancer experience. If you are going through cancer, understand that it WILL have a profound impact on you and your personality. If you are supporting a friend, give him or her grace when you notice that they aren’t quite the same person as they were before the diagnosis. Before Jenny’s fight, I was care-free and funny. I am now a more serious person, but it eases more and more with time. I feel like I lost a few friends because they didn’t like the more serious version of me. I also feel like those relationships would have been spared had they just given me grace and time to find myself again.

Treatment created a sense of solitude. Going through treatment was a very lonely process even with all the meals and support that were provided by friends and family. The reality is that most of the really tough times occurred when friends and family weren’t around. That created a sense of solitude that was almost incomprehensible to those trying to support us. If you are going through cancer, expect to feel alone at times despite all the support. If you are trying to support a friend through treatment, understand that the treatment and side effects are likely much worse than they look from the outside. Make yourself available during the toughest times and make sure you are ready to provide support throughout treatment. Support tends to wane towards the end of treatment when it is needed the most.

The year after treatment was very difficult. They always say the best way to galvanize a people is to give them a common enemy. When Jenny’s treatment was complete and the enemy beaten, it took a tremendous amount of time and energy to pick up the pieces. A vast majority of the support we received during treatment disappeared when treatment was over. The medical bills started piling up, and laundry, meal preparation, and just everyday life seemed to take much more energy than it did before. At times we felt overwhelmed by everyday life. If you are trying to support someone through cancer, give them a gift card to a restaurant or to a grocery store or take them a meal after the end of treatment. If you are going through cancer, expect an energy letdown and be patient with yourself and your family as you readjust.

I want to thank Jenny for letting me crash her blog again. When Jenny was going through treatment there was very little to go from from a husband’s perspective. I am happy to provide more insight/experience/wisdom to those looking for it. I think I will keep it a little less serious on my next post.

Thanks – Jeff

Why I Got Cancer

Lots of reflecting going on this week. The past couple of days I’ve been forced to take a break from the activities of checking off items off my list. I’ve had to work 2 -12 hour shifts at the hospital and have spent some time in silence and reflecting. If you know me at all, you know I’m not quiet or still. Both were really good for me.

People ask me all the time why I think I got breast cancer. I had no family history of cancer. I was a size 8 when I got sick. I’ve never smoked a day in my life. And all my genetic testing was negative for the breast/ovarian cancer genes. My only risk factor was an early onset of menses (age 10), despite being a very athletic kid.

So do I really know the reason? No. But I do believe bitterness contributed to my cancer.

I married young. Like 19 years old young. I know… I am cringing, too. Scary to think I was over half way done with college too, when I got married. But nevertheless that was my choice and my vow was sacred. I believed with all my being that I would be married for a lifetime.

 

 

Instead of the white picket fence with 2 kids and a dog, I got the bitterness and devastation that came with finding out my husband was interested in living a life with another person. It also just happened to be when I was 7.5 months pregnant with Rebecca. Ugh. I talked a little bit about this here.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty.

Interesting thing about bitterness. It does nothing positive. It eats a hole in your stomach. It makes you physically sick. It weighs you down. And it does NOTHING to the other person who has hurt or offended you.
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39 List- Host a Cupcake & Lemonade Stand with the Kids

One of the things I wanted to do before I turn 39 was to host a cupcake and lemonade stand with the kids. Well yesterday was the day… and it was amazing. The family agreed that it was a smashing success and that we should make this an annual Meyerson tradition.

I began this process with 3 goals: to have the kids involved, make it a small community affair, and donate 100% of the proceeds.

 

 

So right away I knew that I wanted to donate the proceeds to Miss Elizabeth Blair. Elizabeth is a young little warrior from our Central Phoenix corridor who is bravely defeating stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Her older brother was in preschool with my Emily 4 years ago. (more…)

Guest Post – A Sister’s Perspective {Part 2}

Hi there!  This is Jenny’s sister, Julie.  I’m thrilled to be back this week to share more memories with all of you.  I really enjoyed sharing all of the fun things I remembered about growing up with Jenny.  If you missed that post, you can read it here. Thank you so much for all of your kind comments.  I love that my post encouraged many of you to document memories from your childhood and to ask your siblings to do the same.

 

Not long ago, Jenny’s husband Jeff shared his side of the story.  He shared how they met and what he remembered from Jenny’s battle with cancer.  After he wrote that, I started thinking back and recalling memories that aren’t quite as funny, but have shaped who we are.

 

I remember when Jenny found out that I was a smoker.  Oh. My. Word!  I think her stern talking to me was worse than my mother’s speech.  (Don’t fret!  I quit smoking well over a decade ago!)

 

I remember when Jenny’s first husband decided to make a multitude of poor choices, which led to the demise of their marriage.

 

I remember being the one who had to do the drop off/pick up of Rebecca for her weekend visits with her biological father because their relationship was not civil at the time.

 

I remember at one such pick up that my former brother-in-law made a nasty comment about Jenny, which prompted me to tell him that he was lucky that he had married the “nice sister”.  That I personally would have cut off his penis and sent it to him via Fed-Ex.  (Oh yes!  I sure did!)

 

 

I remember being on the phone with Jenny when my daughter, Skylar started seizing.  I remember her saying that she would be at my house in 10 minutes & thinking that wasn’t possible as she lived 20 minutes away. I remember Jenny walking through the door with the paramedics 8 minutes later.

 

I remember sitting in a dark room in the ER with Jenny and my husband as we waited to hear whether or not a brain tumor was the reason she had seized so long.  I remember Jenny saying “no matter what results comes back, we are going to get through this together.”

 

I remember Jenny calling to say, “I found a lump in my breast.”

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  • 52 Cupcakes

  • Project Life

  • 39 Before I am 39

  • Jeff's Story