May 30, 2016: Balding and Finding an Unashamed Self

5 days post radiation: which was 10 3-piece (full brain, mid back spinal cord, and hip bones) treatments over a 12 day span. Feeling loved through well intended and friendly comments but not feeling the same “me” as before when my reflection is not 26 years familiar. May 30 2016 Balding

Symptoms during radiation were not terrible, just some nausea, headaches, and restlessness but between new emotions and adjustments I thought I knocked the two weeks out of the park and thought the rest would be downhill speed skating.

These past 5 days though have been tougher, with new symptoms that are more uncomfortable (physically and emotionally), visible (super swollen face and belly & have random rashes), and time consuming (…tummy…) during all hours of the day and night. All my symptoms are listed as normal and my doctor team explained that the radiation continues to work even after in person treatments stop so it’s a good thing to know everything they targeted is being zapped by science. That is only somewhat comforting for half of me that tries to understand and research, with the other refusing to care to comprehend how it all works. I’ve literally avoided science my whole life: kindergarten through grad school, and career choice. —
For tonight, we maintain that God is using this 2016 medical technology first in my season of healing so I’ll skip blaming radiation for my sorrows and I’ll get through today like I did yesterday, praising Jesus for the day and the time we have together. My heart hurts for families who lose loved ones suddenly, or experience their children’s health suffer over their own. Those situations don’t come close to ours.
I love spending time online right now following everyone’s highlights that show so much happiness and continue praying with anyone who is feeling alone or hiding in any kind of shameful or lonely place.

Funny thing about my relationship with God right now is I am a huge Christine Caine (one of many powerful Christ centered women who has said YES to her callings) lover and wanted to help promote her new book Unashamed this last month but ended up in first reading feeling like I wasn’t connecting with the message of living ‪#‎unashamed‬ because I felt in my heart that I was GOOD and pretty void of the exampled shames and fears. Hello May 9- to find out I’m living with a rare stage 4 cancer and didn’t know it until my brain swelled randomly 7-12 weeks post baby AND hello today- going bald here!!!!! I have a new appreciation for strapping on warrior sandals and finding a ‪#‎liveunashamed‬ stance against lies of the enemy on what is painful or what is beautiful. It is all finished in what Jesus did for us, so no pain or discomfort will shame me. And it is all written in His plan, not mine, so a bald me will not shame me.

Thank you for believing in me and caring for my updates. I’ll be seeing you all with some more hats and a wig when I find the perfect one!
A special thank you to my mommy Jeannie Kern, sisters Dani Ross-WellsMarie Giles Ross and too good of friends Stephanie HalseideLindsay RubacKaitlyn Bullard who went way out of their ways this weekend to make me feel beautiful through family photos and our perfectly awesome much-needed-we’re-spread-between-3-states family weekend.

#balding

#liveunashamed

May 29, 2016: Weekend with Family

This past weekend my 3 out of state siblings were able to fly in from Oklahoma! We had a great time catching up, spending time together, eating, playing at Top Golf, taking family photos, and being silly.

May 30 2016 Family Memorial Weekend

I want to tell you all a little about my family because all of this past month has been about me and my current life as a cancer patient, mom, wife, young professional, etc…. and I wouldn’t be who I am without them:

May 29 2016 Family

My Siblings! Jake, Ryan, Jeni, Dani, Trevor

May 29 2016 Family 2

Our Whole Family! Ryan, Adam, Bentley, Boston, Jeni, Marie, Trevor, Larry, Jeannie, Dani, Molly, Jordan, Jack, Morgan, Jake

May 29 2016 Family 3

All the Boys! Ryan, Trevor, Adam, Boston, Larry, Jack, Jordan, Morgan, Jake

May 29 2016 Family Girls.jpg

All the Girls! Dani, Jeni, Molly, Jeannie, Bentley, Marie

My sister Dani, her husband Morgan, and 3 kids [Molly (7), Jack (5), Jordan (1)] live here in Edmond, OK. They moved here a year after I did because they fell in love with Oklahoma after one visit! My sister is the most creative, 100% in, passionate women I know. I am so happy they took a leap of faith and moved here when they did, because life right now wouldn’t be the same without them. The simple fact that we didn’t have the chance to grow up near all of our wonderful cousins makes our hearts so full the Molly, Jack, and Jordan will know Bentley and Boston and their love as cousins will flourish forever. God is so good in this way.

(OUT OF STATE) My oldest brother Trevor and his wife Marie live in Murray, Utah just outside of Salt Lake City in their super cute home where they have a massive garden. And I mean massive. They are very active in the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints and have great Callings there, where they pour into their communities. They have great careers and love to spend time outdoors exploring new places and being adventurous together. Trevor rides a motorcycle. He is my “too cool” brother even though he will always be my “Star Wars Loving” brother, which to me is the opposite of cool. Sorry!

(OUT OF STATE) My middle brother Ryan lives in West Hollywood where he works on the show The Voice and plays with numerous bands (travels around the country some too!). He is one of the most talented people I know from the inside out. He is my “eligible Bachelor” brother, so ladies, look him up on my Facebook: J Ryan Kern. In addition to his incredible (and flexible) career and his good looks, he is kind, genuine, open, plays in his church band, is so fun, and has so many qualities.

My little brother Jake also currently lives in Edmond, OK with us but just recently graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma where I attended graduate school. He may be moving away soon to seek new adventures. Big sister is not too happy to lose him geographically after successfully recruiting 3/5 siblings and my parents (who moved here in January 2016). And since this is a blog I am allowed to say whatever I want.

__

Obviously with such great siblings, we came from somewhere (someones- and yes we are a proud blended family with his, hers, mine, ours, adopted, and all the kinds): My parents Larry and Jeannie are one of a kind both as individuals and as a couple in Christ.

They (re found) their individual relationships with Jesus a couple of years ago after joining us at our Edmond, OK church Life.Church (the worship and message were incredible as always and just allowed for the space and place for them to feel God’s love.) They hadn’t been attending any kind of church in Southern California so when they went back, they found one that fit them (there are all kinds of great churches around the world…so it’s OK that someone doesn’t like ours or yours…do what is best for you and your family!) called CenterPointe in Murrietta, CA. This church and the people there (our pastor Craig Groeschel always says: “We don’t go to church, we are the church!” YES!) changed their lives as they got plugged into community. This is what makes my heart sing- people who are broken finding NEW LIFE in JESUS and THEN COMMUNITY SHOWING THESE NEW BUT BUT STILL BROKEN PEOPLE WHAT CONTONUAL NEW LIFE IS, IN JESUS. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Sorry, I just really love love (future blog posts about Taylor Swift lyrics and Nicholas Sparks books will surely come so beware.)

I am so proud of my parents. For so many reasons.

But this past year, my mom was able to retire after being very prayerful about how she wanted to spend their rest of her life. She was able to take care of my Papa, Fred, is his last season (sunset) of life in Temecula. He passed away in January 2016. After Papa passed away (leaving me with no more living grandparents- except I have been blessed with many on Adam’s side of the family!) my mom and dad moved to Edmond to be by 3/5 of us kids and all the grand kids. Leaving Southern California for Oklahoma is not something that is taken as “oh that makes sense, have fun”…it’s usually transcribed into the follow-up question of “how could you leave California??” I still to this day get that from people and I have lived here for 4 years and lived in Tucson and Italy before that so have been away from CA a long long time! I just tell people to follow their hearts and if they want to leave OK so bad then CA has space for them…

SO, they moved to Oklahoma (another successful recruiting effort by yours truly!!!) into this beautiful neighborhood where the HOA gives our Yard of the Month awards. It’s so serene and pretty (Adam, Bentley, and I have been staying with my parents since being released from the hospital for help with the baby since I cannot be left alone with her when my leg gives out or have a mini seizure so we have been able to really reap the benefits of the beautiful green spaces here.) WELL, guess I thought that it was pretty cool God brought Nana and Papa to all their grand kids but now I think God is pretty darn cool to bless me with my Mommy and Daddy here to be BY MY SIDE for every appointment and every day in this season. I couldn’t do this without them so to fathom they could still be states away just makes me sad for anyone who is a part from their family while they go through any challenge or rough patch of sea. I pray for all of you daily. And praise Jesus that I am so blessed to have most of my family here.

#family

 

May 26, 2016: Bentley, my angel

Last night Beni girl and mommy had some nice R&R together. Her innocence and smiles wash away so many fears of mine. How can anyone dwell on an internal sickness with such a sweet creation to live for!
(Animal towel hoodies for the win every single bath time!!)

MMay 26 2016 Bentleyy doctors have said Bentley isn’t at risk for anything that I have so we praise God for that and the miracles of our amazing pregnancy/ L&D experiences. We can’t comprehend how she grew inside of me, me being so symptom free until 7 weeks PP. Only God. 

Because I can’t drive myself and Adam has gone back to his amazing work our families have really rallied around us to care for Bentley while we’ve split time every which way through the craziest couple of weeks. She has the life, let me tell you! Hard for mama to take back seats in some regard but I can’t imagine our families being out of state and not able to be here. So much to be thankful for.

We have been told though that future pregnancies are not in the “medical picture” for us so we have struggled with that these past two weeks just readjusting dreams and plans. We love our blended family and are open to whatever is in store for us long term as parents. Getting ahead of myself as usual, but living in each day and moment has put so much into perspective and I want to hug and love on so many women and families who have/had struggles with pregnancies or adoption processes. All I know is there is nothing Jesus leaves us abandoned in… Even the most personal topics when we think “what scripture or message or inner voice can help me through this today?” He is working and His word is relevant. We just need to stay intentional and lean in to those around us who have so much to offer us.

May 25, 2016: Last Day of Radiation (we thought)

Girls day at the Center to celebrate my last day of radiation… Aren’t the gardens beautiful! It was Bentley’s first time to join us, so my team who’s heard nothing else about my life over the last 2 weeks enjoyed meeting her!

Ill have follow up scans in about one month to see how well the radiation tackled the brain, spine, and hip cancer they targeted. From what they say, cancer cells don’t stand a chance against radiation so as I sit here with sweats, a sick tummy, and a pulsating head I’ll keep reminding myself that it’s all working and the toxins are fleeing far away. For now, surgery in any one area is not an option because of how widespread the cancer is but the doctors are confident in our next steps… Which is where I have the best news for you all!!! 

The Mayo Clinic got all of my genetic testing back (it’s absolutely incredible to me that doctors all over the nation talk about me and my case… The science behind everyone’s specialties is mind boggling. I’m so thankful for a lead Doctor here who explains everything so well for the non-scientific kind like me!) and they confirmed that I have one of three potential mutations called EGFR. What this means is that I qualify for “targeted therapy” rather than general chemo, which is developed for me to go right after the disease (which again, started in my left lung and makes zero sense for my age and health). The treatment plan will be under way next Thursday after they allow my body to recoup from these last ten radiation sessions. Clinical trials are still on the table so if there are more aggressive routes and research to try, we will stay diligent in prayer leading us through those options.

Adam and our families couldn’t do this without all of you and I am so blessed to call each of you friends and community members. We feel your love every day so immensely.

God is bigger than disease. But God is also bigger than our understanding here on earth so I want to continue my shares with everyone understanding that my strength is not in myself (although ‪#‎jenistrong‬ is quite motivating!!) but truly in Him.

May 22, 2016: Radiation & Health Update

I’ve finished 7 days of my full brain and spine/hip radiation and have 3 more to go until this round is finished. Each session takes about 40 minutes but every minute spent at the Stephenson Cancer Center is well intentioned with the best care teams (we even have valet parking). My radiation team has become my positive vibes family: setting up my room with country music, allowing us the time to pray before each bout, and welcoming my special visitors who want to learn more about the process. I’ll be documenting photos this week with them for a fun post later. They’re real rock stars.

We won’t know how well radiation “worked” for a bit of time because the scans are so intrinsic but the team is confident that cancer cells can’t really survive radiation, which is a good thing that I was a candidate to start so soon.

The pathology results are still with the Mayo Clinic regarding the gene mutations they are looking for, but we hope that by Tuesday our doctors will know those results and will be putting together a systemic full body treatment plan together (will know results from PET scan then too). This is what’s known as chemo, but there are hundreds of types all catered to specific cancers so we just don’t know what this next season will look like yet. This may or may not include clinical trials. If we can stay in OKC, we will as we know home is where healing happens but if we are called to travel to another facility, we of course will be on board with recommended research. It’s all pending what the results say and what options they can come up with to go after the rest of the widespread cancer (standards of care + trials). We are also attacking this disease as holistically as possible through diet, supplements, oils, and audacious prayer thanks to so many people pouring resources over us!

Symptoms through radiation have been tolerable! My leg is weaker by the day but is most likely nerve related to spinal cord pressure.. There are worst things I know so I have no complaints. I am sleepy and weak(ish) but still have my hair and a happy baby at home- what more does a mommy need?!

The donations, prayers, notes, gifts, everything… Overwhelming. We are shown God’s love through you all and feel so supported and strong. Thank you for being interested and challenging your day to reflection and prayer. Keep considering Jesus. He loves us in every circumstance, even radiation!

May 20, 2016: Unashamed

May 20 2016This is my biggest struggle right now: feeling through a “new platform” if you will. It’s awkward and extremely uncomfortable to be frank.

I 100% believe in the greater plan but trusting in Him to use such an intimate part of my life is hard. 26 years old and internal “health” is an issue? How do scans upon scans just show up covered in masses when life has been so dang beautiful? How can I carry and birth a beautiful baby girl one day and barely hold her the next? I’ve come so far in my walk in faith this last year alone but putting potential timelines on life is hard as fear of being left out sits in. This still doesn’t feel real to me. And I want to be as candid as I can through this journey when I can just in case someone I can’t reach from Edmond, Oklahoma is waiting for a simple message of Love. 

How do we remain strong through these fears?
I’ll share ☺️ … He makes me strong. Jesus Christ was sent for me, for you, to take every single pain, ailment, fear, condemning thought, sin, bitter perception, terror-physical, emotional, spiritual.. All of it. In spirit, He was given to us by God in perfect love. This is not about us. This is about our Kingdom and what He has planned, which is so great that no religion can articulate the greatness that can simply infiltrate our hearts when we listen. It is finished! I am made new daily by the grace of God and given a strength that is not my own. It is supernatural, calming, and peaceful.

I am so motivated by my family and friends to beat earthly cancer. The continued prayers for healing light up my thoughts while I lay in radiation each day and when I am up at night. Thank you so very much for rooting for me after so many years or not even ever meeting me- my heart pours out gratitude. I believe in miracles and know that we will put up the best fight around.
But the notes I’m receiving that someone’s faith in God is being fueled just a little bit stronger as they empathize with our immediate struggles puts me right back to where my heart and soul is now and will forever be. I continually pray that God uses me how He envisions, even when I don’t understand. 


‪#‎considerjesus

May 17, 2016: Adam and I’s 2 Year Wedding Anniversary

Needless to say, I have a lot to fight for.

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-25 NLT

2013 and 2014 was a special time for me, finishing graduate school and finding my place in the community as a young professional, all while planning my dream wedding. We had so much love and support that year putting all the pieces together and although the weekend came and went so fast, I will never forget the romantics and details of every single moment.

Anniversaries come and go just like other days, but these seasons light back up just as magically (yes like a Taylor Swift music video!) when you stop and reflect back and thank God again and again for being so good. So many people traveled to us to share our day and no thank you will ever do the gratitude justice. 

I love you Adam Bruns. Not sure how you got a California girl to be considered southern but I love our life the way it is today just as much as I did two years ago. Happy anniversary.. Off to reminisce (this time with a baby in tow and a fancy wheelchair in the trunk!)

___ 5am May 18 2016__

Daddy took us back to the ranch we got married at to get some fresh air today on our anniversary & it was so nice to get out into the country after so much time in hospitals and home. BentMay 17 2016ley loved the grounds and enjoyed meeting our friends at the ranch. I want her to grow up knowing what a special place it is to us.

I’ve spent all day praying over her future husband and experiences as my little lioness~ never too early to declare God’s promises over our daughters!
Don’t mind my hair, trying not to comb just in case it decides to leave me this week 😔 (apologies for the little bit of vanity!). 

Ready for a big day today! PET Scan, nutritionist appt, & day 5 radiation. I’m not allowed to be around Beni after the PET scan for a few hours because they’re lighting my insides up like a deep ocean fish so I am holding onto every moment I can with her before… Aka, 5am snuggles.

 

Our wedding video (online, edited version):

http://www.gloriousdayfilms.com/#/jeni-adam/

Our wedding photography (Amanda Watson Photography) feature (Sept 2014) in Southern Weddings Magazine: http://southernweddings.com/2014/09/25/oklahoma-wedding-by-amanda-watson/