Falling In Line

14 Aug

It felt sacrilegious cuddling with my cell phone Thursday night in my bottom bunk at the cabin, but Julia had to be calling Friday morning. She couldn’t make me wait all weekend. I’ve gotten used to the beeps and rings of IV machines since May, so I didn’t want to risk mistaking The Big Call for a tantrum from Dorothy, the newly agreed-upon name for my Old Bag of an IV-toting backpack.

The rural phone grids held. Julia called at 7:30 a.m., a full two and a half hours before my hemoglobin would have me rise and shine otherwise. Her cheerful voice was a welcome wake-up. All 16 of my chromosomes in some special cell were lined up as nicely as I lined up with my 15 classmates in 3rd grade at St. John’s in Searles. Before transplant 14 were out of line, but they haven’t budged since the Day 30 biopsy. The organized lineup led the pathologist to note “No sign of MDS or blasts” in his report, an accolade as appreciated as those scratch-and-sniff stickers Mrs. Hodapp used to put on exceptionally neat papers.

What’s more, the DNA of my blood and bone marrow is still 100 percent my donor’s – a “2 for 1” as Jimmy calls it. My doctor had been particularly anxious over this measure because my blood counts have steadily fallen for three weeks. Contrary to what we feared, there is no problem with my graft. I’m still 100 percent. Anything less than that is worrisome because it leaves room for the cancer cells to come back. My marrow just has to start working a little harder to “populate” my blood with some meaty cells, Julia said. “So this is really good news, Jenna. We’ll talk more about it Monday when I see you.”

I rolled out of my bunk, careful not to rest my knee on my IV tubing and pull my hickman out even farther out of my chest. Gross, I know. The now-arbitrary blue stitches dangle about an inch down from where they should be, as scar tissue tries to hold on, at least another few weeks. Led by the weave of early morning moonlight and sunlight, I sat next to my mom on her bed. “Julia called,” I said. “I’m 100 percent.” She hugged me tight and clenched my hand with her even smaller one, letting a few tears go but not letting out exclamation that would wake the others. “That’s really good news,” she repeated, pushing the words out in big breaths, as if she’d held them all week.

I think my whole family breathed a little easier for the rest of the weekend at the cabin we’ve enjoyed together for years. Although I still had to stay away from the who-knows-what-could-be-in-the- lake and sand, didn’t dare a game of horseshoe or a rowboat for fear of rupturing my hickman, and still shied away from the fresh summer harvests that could bring sickness, I didn’t mind as much. That night, the moon at the end of the dock shined brighter, closer than I had thought it earlier in the week.

Grandpa Domeier with one of his "wall hanger" fish.

Dragging around Dorothy when Andrea's Polish Golf balls are lobbed too far. She gets heavy. Probably why my hickman isn't faring too well, but I pull from the tubing. Relax.

My grandma made me a Day 100 cake (German chocolate, of course). Saturday, Aug. 20 is Day 100.

Jack (brother) and Kurt (cousin) head out to fish

My cousin Andrea and me. I grew up across the street from her, a fellow St. John's-er.

My grandpa and aunt Cate take a walk/scoot around the resort.

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27 Responses to “Falling In Line”

  1. julie descarrega August 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    That is wonderful news! I am thrilled for you! So glad you could enjoy the rest of the time at the cabin even more. You are such a strong and courageous young woman! You make me appreciate the small things in my life more. Continue healing and I will keep praying!

  2. Clare August 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Fantastic and I knew it would be nothing less than this. Celebrate day 100 big time!!!

  3. Danny Schreiber August 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    Jenna –

    Yay! This post made my day, so happy to get good news.

    I will say, however, the post would have been better had it referred to St. Mary’s and not St. John’s. Sorry you had to go to St. John’s. 🙂

    Have a great week!

    • James Vancura August 15, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      I agree with Dan. I am surprised you want this many people knowing you went to St. Johns.

      • Jeff Schnobrich August 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

        Don’t let these guys get to you. They’re still envious of our playground. Go St. John’s. Go Jenna.

      • Kacie Balbach August 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

        Yes, obviously St. Mary’s was the best!! hehe

        Jenna!! So glad to hear the great news! 🙂 I love your pictures as well!! Did you see the great post on fb from Sarah?!! A little Sound of Music action!! 😉 Love it! Glad you are able to enjoy this great moment with your family! It looks like you are having a fantastic time & even better with the great news!!

  4. Megan Tucker August 14, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I could not be happier for you, Jenna – So glad you are able to celebrate and enjoy lovely Northern MN

  5. Lori Thom August 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Jenna, WONDERFUL news. So happy for you!!! Waiting & anxious to hear the good news.

  6. Linda Hornick August 15, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    What wonderful news!!! That is just great to hear! Glad you found out on Friday too so you could celebrate with your family over the weekend. Love the cake that your Grandma made for you too. So happy for you to get such great news!

  7. Ashlee Suker August 15, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Oh YAY! That’s great news Jenna 🙂 So glad things are on the up and up.. Always enjoy your posts and wonderful photos.

  8. Greg Kaiser August 15, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Great news!!! Happy for you!!

  9. Karen August 15, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Your results make me 100% happy! Yeah, Jenna!!

  10. Sara Martin August 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Awesome news! (And I love that you’ve named your IV pack.)

  11. Rose Forst August 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Hey Jenna,

    That is the best news!! Nothing better than german chocolate cake to celebrate.

  12. Karen Torseth August 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm #


    Absolutely amazing and fantastic news! I can’t be more thrilled for your improving health, it is obvious by your journal entries that you have a talent that can not be match with your writings. Hopefully this is a talent that you will continue with after this little road block in your journey of life has ended and you can move on to happier times. We will continue to pray for a very quick recovery and that your numbers bring you A+++ grades.

    Karen Torseth
    Lakeville Women of Today

  13. Connie August 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Cried when I heard your wonderful news! So happy for you!!!

  14. Mary August 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Fantastic news, Jenna! I’m so happy for you.

  15. Sharon Deutsch August 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    So happy for you Jenna! Go St. John’s! 😉

  16. Ted & Marcia Kunze August 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    That’s wonderful news, Jenna! We are thrilled to hear it. We had a luminary bag shining brightly in honor of you at our county’s Relay for Life on Saturday night!

  17. Cyndi Hillesheim August 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    What great news!! Celebrating day 100 on Aug. 20th will be the best birthday present I could ever get!! Congrats Jenna!! Your the best!

  18. Fran Albright August 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Great news Jenna!!!

  19. Margeaux Gagliano August 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    That’s such good news Jenna! I’m so happy to hear it.

  20. Angie August 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Such good news, Jenna – be sure to celebrate!

  21. Grandpa Dick August 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Terrific news Jenna! You have had a another long and difficult battle, but you are winning. You are the greatest fighter of all time. Thumbs up to your partner as well. Thanks a million donor.

    Love you Jenna

  22. Amy Leonardi August 18, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Jenna…. sounds like great news! I think about you often, and miss you at work. I’ve said it before, but you are an amazing writer!

  23. Kyle Ludewig August 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    That is fantastic! I’m happy you were able to spend time Up North.

  24. Carol Guggisberg August 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm #


    Was so good to hear you were able to go to the lake with the gang. AND to hear about your “100% rating”! We always knew you deserved a 100% rating as a member of this great family. Now every one knows it. Our prayers continue to be with you every day.

    Lots of Guggisberg Hugs-

    Charlie & Carol

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