Well That Didn’t Work…

28 Aug

For the past several weeks I’ve been on the chemo loop — working my bone marrow up just to poison it back down. I had scans this week to check on my progress. Unfortunately it’s my liver tumors that are making the progress. They have increased in both size and number. We’re still waiting for the results of the MRI of my head, but we do know that the chemo isn’t working for the metastatic carcinoma, and my bone marrow really can’t handle chemo anyway. My blood counts are still bottomed out from chemo I had a full two weeks ago. 

So, on to plan B. My doctors are in cahoots right now to determine what “plan B” exactly looks like, but so far we know it involves genetically sequencing my tumors to hopefully identify a mutation that we can target with a non-chemo oral cancer drug (phew, says my bone marrow). The sequencing takes three weeks. We’ll see what else the good docs have up their sleeve at my next appointment Tuesday. Regardless, we can’t do anything until my blood counts swing back.

Needless to say, this definitely wasn’t the news I was hoping for or even expecting. That’s probably because I have been trying to push forward with life as if my future were a sure thing. That’s what I have learned in the past 11 years that I have to do. Keep my momentum.

It can be difficult to convince yourself of momentum when on disability, especially when you thrive on work like I do. When your life becomes a waiting room, it’s easy to cave in to tuning out the conversations around you and to letting the lady over the intercom dictate when it’s your turn. There’s definitely no way I can keep the pace at which I used to work, but I can do something other than wait (and devise expensive hobbies like redecorating my living room).

So I am moving forward by taking a few hours a week of graduate courses at the University of Iowa College of Public Health that one day will count towards a Masters in Public Health in Policy. It’s stimulating to surround myself with health policy nerds who want to talk about Obamacare’s effects on Medicaid enrollment just as much as I do. It’s good to write papers. It’s good to make plans.


Family shot with Herman

Jimmy and I also adopted a dog, Herman. He’s my company and my couch buddy, a wagging tail when we walk in the door. We’ll have him for many years to come.

This isn’t the first time I have been told that a treatment isn’t working and that we have to wait to figure out something else. These times of waiting are the most trying. It’s human nature to want to move forward as quickly as possible. But I’ve learned that when parts of my life demand that I wait, I should drive on with the parts I can control. It’s all about keeping momentum and looking forward.


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28 Responses to “Well That Didn’t Work…”

  1. Brittany August 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Hoping for good things with plan B. Good luck with grad school! I am starting this semester too. I imagine your colleagues will appreciate you sharing your first hand experiences and the eloquent way with which you speak about them.

  2. Kate Lloyd August 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Go get ’em! I’m rooting for you. Xo

  3. Elizabeth August 28, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    You’re so brave, Jenna. Thanks for sharing your insight from your journey…Yes, we sometimes have to wait and be patient while forging ahead at the same time. Keep up that momentum with your classes and we will keep looking forward! People around the world are praying for you!

  4. Denise Ludewig August 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Beautiful family photo! Keep your chin up and Herman’s tail wagging 🙂

  5. Dick and Irene August 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Jenna, I honestly don’t know anyone on this planet with more momentum than you. I don’t know what else I can do to promote good outcomes other than to pray for them. So that’s what I do. I hope you can feel all the positive energy that comes your way from so many people even when you don’t hear our voices. We’re still with you and moving forward. Love to you.

    • Jenna Langer September 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

      Always nice to hear from you. Just finished up our Holy Sap 🙂

  6. Becky Boyle August 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    You write so beautifully and personally. Thank you. We’re moving forward with you. Take care.

  7. Carol Schroeder August 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Way to go Jenna, Just keep on Keeping on. Hi to Jimmy and that wonderful new family member Herman. I am sure he is a good friend to you both…..

  8. Lisa Drexler August 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Several times I’ve read your posts and sat,for what seemed like hours, trying to figure out what to say. One minute I want to cry, as my heart aches watching you fight this battle. The next I’m smiling, as I see this beautiful woman that you’ve become. You are truly amazing & such an inspiration to many. I think about you often & continue to pray for you, your family & all staff involved in your care. Your dance is not over girl, the music is still going. Be strong, chin up, and keep that big contagious smile on that gorgeous face of yours going 🙂

    • Jenna Langer September 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      So nice to hear from you, Lisa. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  9. Sarah I August 28, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Jenna, thanks so much for the update. Sean and I are thinking of you! Herman looks absolutely adorable, great picture 🙂 We’re sending you all our good hopes and vibes, girl.

  10. Linda Hornick August 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Love the picture of you, Jimmy & Herman!!! Glad to hear you are taking those classes. You are an awesome young woman!!! Always praying for you & your family 🙂

  11. mmkoppel August 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Love you, Jenna – and Herman looks like the perfect couch companion for the tough waiting period you are now in. You are extraordinary with your momentum and will be for many years to come.

  12. Clare Lynam Goldfogle August 28, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    I am thrilled to hear that you are doing what you want to do, and enjoying the classes. So many people can learn so much from you–I know I have. Love you and sending hugs from back East….

  13. Debbie August 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm #


    Always a thoughtful, inspiring and beautiful person. Wishing you all the best, always.

    • Sharon Klaviter August 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm #


      Want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers always and keep doing what you are doing. Know that there are tons of people out there that are praying for your miracle. – Sharon Klaviter

  14. Linda Mertz August 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    You’re in my prayers every night, Jenna. Surely He can’t ignore me much longer! I pray that He spares the life of a very courageous, inspiring person. When life gets me down, I only have to think of you. I feel blessed to have taught you, and watch you grow into the wonderful human being you are. Glad you are taking classes and moving on with your life. Wishing you the best.

  15. Tricia Schreiber August 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    WE can all do something while waiting for your counts to swing back – we can all pray MORE! Praying that in that waiting period, those docs in cahoots come up with the magic potion. Herman is adorable – is that ‘Herman’ after that german guy at the end of our block? Somehow I feel it is! And as far as your slowing down, probably good so that husband of yours doesn’t feel so bad since he’s getting so OLD! Happy belated birthday, Jimmy! I remember those birthday party days and Ellen’s cakes. Great photo of the bros. I hear it was a good day in all respects. You two are loved by many.

  16. Adam Hoff August 29, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    Thanks for a constant reminder of what real spirit and accomplishment is like. Can only imagine what it’s like to have half the heart and courage of you. Love your writing, and beautiful picture just the same. Boys II Men…..never forget!

  17. Nanci August 29, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    Hi Jenna,
    I’ve been thinking of you and keep going to your blog to see if I missed something and I’m thinking of your mom a lot also. Love that you got yourself a snuggle buddy…we have 4..Andy, Jack, Daisy, and Jessy…all Siberian Huskies…you can see them on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/andrewjackson2010 when you need a chuckle from HuskyHijinx antics. I was also hoping to hear better news, but then , you are moving forward regardless, and you are a true inspiration to keep on living! Take care Jenna…I love your dog’s name!

  18. Melanie Ofenloch August 29, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Strong friend, I’ve been thinking about you and praying for you every day. You inspire so many with your honesty, humor and positive thoughts about the future. These tumors have no idea who they are up against.

    Big hugs! Melanie

  19. Kathy Kemmeter August 29, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Jenna, you are in our prayers everyday and hoping your next update has better medical news. Good luck with the Masters work!
    The Kemmeters

  20. Jessi Newman August 29, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Wishing, hoping, praying for Plan B. Thinking of you daily!

  21. David Rysdahl August 30, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    Hey Jenna! Herman the dog is a handsome devil, as is Jim. Thanks for sharing your heart in these posts; your generosity has worked itself into the hearts of thousands of people. Good luck with grad school!

    • Jenna Langer September 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

      Aren’t they just so handsome? Really nice to hear from you, David.

  22. Jyneal September 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    You continue to amaze me with your positive outlook. Your writing is wonderful – eloquent and witty. Keep on moving forward! Give that cute hubby some crap from his old babysitter.

  23. Sally Squires September 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    So glad to know that you are back in school. That’s terrific news. Plus, your new canine companion is adorable. He’s one lucky dog to be with you and Jimmy!

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