I know I’m overdue for an update. Sometimes when I don’t post it’s because I’m caught up in the moment with life events. Other times when I don’t post it’s because typing the words out makes it that much more of a reality – that’s been the case most recently when I lost two friends in two weeks.
But this isn’t about me and my grief, it’s about the amazing women that are no longer with us.
I met Reesa through our local young survivors group. She was originally diagnosed about a year after me and then had two years of remission. Then the cancer returned, to her bones, then her liver. We would often hole up in the same chemo room and entertain ourselves. The oncology nurses often shut the door to our private chemo room because we were laughing and making inappropriate jokes about various chemo-related things. Reesa had a bold personality and an even bolder love for her daughters (Danielle, 9 and Brianna, 5). But Reesa’s body couldn’t handle any more chemo and her liver failed. She passed away April 4th at 36 years old. Her family asked me to speak at her funeral. I was honored, but also conflicted because what I wanted to say wasn’t going to comfort a grieving audience. Her death is my reality and cancer has murdered another one of my friends.
Then, just this weekend, another friend was hospitalized. I met Steph when my sister had her internship at Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She was an absolute fire cracker and had a spunky, fun-loving attitude. Steph did not have cancer, but was diagnosed with lupus in high school and had two kidney transplants. Her body, at age 40, finally gave out. Steph had a strong faith and God said, “Enough, come home.” Her death was shocking because I had just visited with her on Tuesday and she died Saturday evening.
Corbin was with his dad this weekend, and when he called to say goodnight, he could tell I was crying. I had learned of Steph’s death just minutes before. He asked, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I just found out a friend of mine went to heaven.” He instantly replied, “Well, that’s good, because we know Heaven is a GOOD place.” Innocent six-year-old logic brought me back to my core belief. He was right…Heaven is a GOOD place, I’m sure it’s infinitely better than here on earth.
Corbin knew Steph, as we (with a couple other families) played Secret Santa, dropping off various gifts over the month of December. Corbin, and two other elves, would sneak up to the door, leave the gift on the porch, then ding-dong-ditch. The kids were so proud that they were never caught. Just the week before her death, when I went to visit her, Corbin colored a detailed picture for her which Steph proudly hung on her fridge. When I explained that the friend was Steph, he still seemed ok with knowing that she was in heaven and knowing it’s okay to be sad because we would miss her.
Me, Steph, and Sara for Halloween.
Both losses have been enormous and emotional, so I’ve been quiet. And, while I am still grieving the loss of my friends, I’m looking forward to getting caught up in the chaos of pure excitement. My sister gets married in the upcoming weeks. It’s one of the biggest items on my bucket list and I’m so thrilled and thankful that I get to witness it.
Then it’s another Mother’s Day weekend adventure as I take Corbin to another amusement park. This time we’re heading to King’s Island in Cincinnati, Ohio.
And, over Memorial Day weekend, my second book, What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient will be released. Here is a special sneak peek of the cover and times/locations of the book release parties. Information about ordering online, or ordering an ebook will be available soon.
Book Release Weekend:
Friday, May 24th:
7-9 pm, Cream & Flutter (Cupcakes and Wine), 114 N Walnut
Saturday, May 25th:
9-11 am, Stephen’s Family YMCA, 2501 Fields S Drive.
4-6 pm, Meathead’s Burgers & Fries, 1305 S. Neil (20% of Meathead’s profits donated to Imerman Angels)
Sunday, May 26th:
9-11 am, Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave.
Jen Smith lives with a murderer. This killer has ruthlessly taken many of her friends, and always leaves her wondering if she’ll be next. Her fear for her life is trumped only by her overwhelming concern for her beautiful young son. But she has no choice. Jen has Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.
In this book, Jen follows up on the triumphs in Learning to Live Legendary with a candid look at the life in between. She pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to live day-to-day with a terminal diagnosis. You’ll share her fear, her heartbreak, her uncertainty — even her guilt. You’ll even feel the impact of Jen’s disease on her friends and family, as they express their feelings in their own words. From mothering to grieving to simply freaking out, Jen and her loved ones provide a raw and unflinching look at What You Might Not Know.
Finally, at the end of May I will have another scan to see if this new chemotherapy (the prostate cancer drug) is working. Thankfully, my quality of life on this drug is good. I do have some fatigue, but I’m relieved that I’m not experiencing other side effects.
Thank you for all the notes in the comment section. Thank you for the prayers, kind words, funny text messages, and private emails. I truly appreciate them – they help keep me going and living my reality. A week ago, as the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing played out, in addition to the loss of two friends, your notes, comments, and prayers continually remind me of so much good in the world.