The #JeniStrong community has been so incredibly good to me and my family we can’t find enough time in a day to keep up with all that is going on.
“Strength” has come somewhat easy since being diagnosed with cancer because I am a daughter of a strong God, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, etc. and it’s been very easy to draw on others’ strengths to be strong myself. Although I have maintained emotional and spiritual strength, when I came across this quote below and read the definition of Resilience (the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness) I realized there are differences and I have really been struggling with “Resilience.”
“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.” -Sheryl Sandberg, Founder of Lean In Together/COO Facebook
Thinking on “strength v. resilience,” I wanted to remember how I am feeling right now about my physical body: TERRIBLE.
Physical changes have been extremely hard for me- specifically my hair loss and weight fluctuation (rapid loss and then rapid gain). I went through pregnancy weight gain June 2015-January 2016, and then post baby weigh loss February 2016-May 2016. That is hard on any female, but it was beautiful and I loved every minute of pregnancy and felt so strong until my hip started hurting when Bentley was 7 weeks old. But I was still able to get up in the morning, decide if I wanted to throw my hair up or curl it and leave it down, and spend time the way I thought I needed to.
In the last two months, I lost ten pounds in one week, was forced to stop breastfeeding/pumping within a two day time span, gained weight back, lost all my hair, and have remained incredibly swollen from all my treatments and steroid medicines that control my headaches. It’s alot. And anyone who tells me “you’re being so strong” and “you’re so beautiful” bothers me (so sorry) because I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs while looking in the mirror. I may be strong against the fight against cancer and other things going on, but I am in desperate need of building my resilience muscle to this issue of my physical appearance.
Here we go friends:
(You all know what I looked like before, with hair)
Some radiation techs said I might not lose my hair at all, but others warned me full brain radiation would definitely make it fall out so I was not 100% sure what to expect. My hair started thinning but it wan’t sall that bad since I had a lot of hair to begin with so I thought maybe I would et lucky and just lose a little.
Then my hair just rated falling out by the clumps (about 3 days after my tenth day of radiation.
I couldn’t hold Bentley because she was getting wrapped in hair. It was just falling out everywhere you looked whether it was being touched or not. It was awful.
The process didn’t hurt at all, it literally would just fall out with no feeling. I was grateful for that but it still was not fun experiencing the rapid change.
It thinned and thinned over the two days until I had to get the rat tails cut and accept the hair loss was real. My sister helped me order a wig and we bought lots of hats for the summer. I have been empowered to be comfortable in certain situations with my bald head but it still is painful to look in the mirror and see a completely different physical person.
The hair never 100% fell out, so I am glad I did not shave it compared to just trimming the back up when it needed it (stubbles avoided!). My systemic /targeted/”chemo” treatment doesn’t have the side effect of hair loss so the good news is it’s already growing back and I rock some pretty funny hair styles around the house.
In addition to hair loss in areas they’ve radiated, I’ve been blessed with hormone-related hair growth as my reproductive system/area was radiated sending me into a very early menopause. Overnight, I sprouted whiskers on my chin (look closely- can’t make this up!). Luckily, the European Wax Center just opened down the street. 😉
June 28th I wrote the following two posts, which still remain true but go to show how strength is easy to talk about but my true resiliency is missing because the whole time I was at this event without my hat on to prove to myself I could do it, I still felt awkward and wished I brought a hat. I hope that in sharing the hard parts of this journey show my authenticity in my desire to keep all this “not about me” and “all about Jesus”… I know that there is a greater plan, even if I don’t like the steps along the way. I remain hopeful that through my muscle flexing in His word, I will continue to grow myself in the way I am meant to right now.
I’ve been adjusting/re-adjusting to life so much these past few weeks that I have found myself avoiding “cancer updates” because of some serious emotional “shame” over my body changes, my dependency on others, my physical limitations, my side effects and symptoms that have me feeling down, and so on. I am still feeling #jenistrong, especially spiritually…but physically and emotionally, this is a tough season and I want to be transparent with that moving forward because after all, we are rallying together and trusting in Our Healer to provide His strength and I am better equipped to do that the more I include you and lean in than try to do it on my own. Tonight I was able to attend Christine Caine and Kari Jobe’s Unashamed Tour at Crossings Community Church in OKC and this song rocked my world, giving me some much needed freedom/release from the shame I have been feeling. “My walls are broken and Heaven is coming down” in the best way possible. I lift Jesus so very high and hope you enjoy this live song!! (posted recording from worship night).
@karijobe & @christinecaine reminded us all at OKC’s #liveunashamed night that God’s word is the final word and He is with us in our tough seasons just the same as before- and a disruption in “easy life” creates opportunity to look up and fix our eyes on Him, because He is there waiting for us to depend 100% on him. Not ourselves or doctors or the enemies of this world. Only Him.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
I will keep working on building my Sandberg inspired resilience so I can look in the mirror and feel better about these blonde locks growing back, and getting back to feeling like my normal self.