husband.

I had the honor of being a part of two weddings this past weekend. As I was getting ready, doing my make up and chatting with the other members of the bridal party, I was collecting memories of my own wedding day. Hearing the vows said by each couple reminded me of my own promises I made to Josh on December 2, 2017. It’s amazing that we have now been married for a year and 4 months! Time has flown by, and we have experienced some new things that all newlyweds go through: we have moved twice, adopted a dog, had some tiffs over the small stuff, endured the process of job searching and being excited over starting a new job. We have also experienced some things that some couples don’t experience until decades of being in marriage: making treatment decisions, hearing not great news over scans, traveling for clinical trials. I realized that though he is my sweet, quiet man, it doesn’t mean I have to be quiet about him on this blog. I mention him often in the background of my life, but he’s my teammate through it all. He deserves a bit of a shout out now and then.

I also think of us as a team because of Josh’s wedding vows. Early on in marriage, Josh had to consistently remind me that he is always on my side, that we are on the same team. I have learned that by having this mindset, I give Josh the benefit of the doubt, that I give him grace, the same grace that God freely gives us. Even though he doesn’t need to “work ” for this grace I give him, he has proven time and time again that he is always there for me, always loyal, will fight for me on my behalf for everything. He is my fierce protector and would do anything to take away the pain and cancer for me.

And Josh shows me grace all of the time. For a quiet, behind-the-scenes kinda guy, he always patiently listens to me no matter the topic of conversation, from our sweet Wylie pup to what errands we need to run. He’s always willing to be in the hospital with me, from scans to waiting on chemotherapy to arrive to spending the night in the most uncomfortable hospital make-shift couch-bed. I knew Josh was loyal, but I didn’t know I could experience such faithfulness from one person. He’s learned how to give me shots at home to flushing out my PICC line at home every night, no matter what hour he gets home from his policing shift. He’s patient with our crazy Wylie boy, luring him back inside with treats and love, and sometimes even chasing him around the backyard.

I’ve seen Josh grow so much as well over this year+. He’s learned how to communicate better his emotions and what he is thinking and stressing over. He’s grown in his confidence in prayer; he requests every day before he heads off to work for us to pray together, knitting us closer together and to our Heavenly Father. Praying with him before work has become something I really value and treasure during our time, and it always changes my own perspective going into the rest of the day. And Josh has grown in his commitment to the Word, reading eagerly every day for his spirit to be fed the words of truth and wisdom to guide through tough times and decisions at work and at home. I really respect and admire his growth and transformation that has come from his consistency in prayer and reading the Word. Not only does Josh’s spiritual growth and maturity benefit from these things, but our relationship as well! Pleading for things from our Dad has really grown us closer and helped us become one as the Word says that we are now “one flesh” (Mark 10:7-9).

So, today I’m here back at the hospital, thinking of the sweet man that dropped me off this morning. We’ve been in this room I’m sure before, waiting together on chemotherapy and drugs. Now we are in a perpetual waiting room called Life, waiting on a new clinical trial that is supposedly coming to Nationwide Children’s soon. And yet, here we are, still waiting. The trial is now currently being investigated in Florida, so now we are looking to go there. Hopefully they are still covering the cost of travel. Please pray that our wait—to either hear back from Children’s or Florida—about getting into this clinical trial. It could be a game changer for my health; I recently went back to a harder trinity of chemotherapy drugs that have worn me out the past couple of weeks. I need a break from these drugs, and undergoing a trial of a drug that my body has never seen before could be huge! Please be praying that we will hear back from them sooner rather than later!

Thank you always for your support, thoughts, prayer and practical service to Josh and I. The Searcy team thanks you immensely!

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Josh and I at his police badge pinning ceremony in January 2019. Our families and I are so proud of all that he has accomplished and how he is serving and protecting
our community!

back to treatment.

Last night, pain became my alarm clock again. I had been freed of pain’s interruptions for a little over a week, being treatment-free for 11 days. I also was no longer waking up around 4:30a/5:00a with Josh as he prepared for the police academy. I hadn’t even thought about that when he graduated that I too would now be getting more sleep, a bonus blessing! During my 11 day break, I was sleeping better, eating more and having an appetite once again, having more energy to go and do the things I love on my own, with no one needing to drive me. I’ve felt almost normal again, and then the pain comes again, a signal throughout my body that it needs more treatment again, and its cue is right on time.

It amazes me how much my body does communicate to me, be it through pain or feelings. Over the past year, I’ve tried to look at my cancer care even more holistically. Diet has always interested me, but for the most part when I read “what to eat for when you have cancer or to prevent cancer” books and pamphlets, I find that I’m already eating the things they recommend. (So what does that say about me? haha) This past year, I added acupuncture and meditation to quiet the pain and my mind. As needles have been placed on me, I’ve felt currents between the needles, mapping out constellations and images of good health for me. I listen to a meditation before I sleep, hoping I will focus on my breath instead of the pain I’m feeling or shift my focus from the anxiety of what I feel like I must do tomorrow. Through adding  both acupuncture and meditation, I sense I can “read” my body more and therefore know what it needs. I’ve always had a sense or feeling come over me when I’m about to hear of bad news from scans. I can tell the difference between fatigue from treatment working from the fatigue that growing cancer cells cast on to me. And there are times when I can’t read the Morse code of pain-strikes within my chest. Is this pain from cancer birth and growth or from cancer cells dying within me? (Isn’t it interesting how both birth and death bring their own types of pain?)

So, tomorrow I go back for chemotherapy.  Today, I’ve been preparing my body with my pre-medications. And, when I think about it, I’ve been preparing my mind/soul also. I’ve been doing things around the house now so that later in the week I won’t look around and be overwhelmed. I already made some soup ahead of time so I have a go-to meal to eat, because cooking on treatment is just overwhelming. I’ve been talking to God more and reading more and listening to Bible teachings while my mind is clear like a summer night sky, able to think, reflect and meditate on the Word with much more ease. I constantly need to guard my heart with gratitude fences that surround and keep me at peace within my heart and mind.

I don’t want to admit it, but taking chemotherapy and steroids and medications that all come with it just transform me into a different person. I try really hard not to let that Jenna-version exist and to jump-start the return of me with little joys that I know I love: walking and petting my dog Wylie, going to coffee shops, rummaging books, prayer-journaling. But sometimes it is really hard to bring me back. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever come back or am I cursed under chemo’s spell. The spell’s curses include feelings of defeat, physical tiredness, insomnia, lack of appetite, lack of joy. It’s hard to be the damsel in distress and also feel like I have to be my own knight in shining armor to defeat the disease and the negatives of the chemo-not-yet-cure.

So please pray for me. Pray for strength, patience, and joy. Pray for gratitude and promptings to express that to my parents, husband and friends who always are quick to help me.

poetry experiment.

I’ve been thinking of writing poetry again.
Oh, how I have missed it!
And I forgot how much
I missed it.
How do you forget your first writing love?
I think going back to age 13,
before cancer,
will jump-start my creativity.
Not like it’s not there—
I feel the words,
see them like snowflakes
in the snowglobe of my mind
and I am trying to catch them.
Chemo snowglobe mind—
I must shake myself everyday
just to make sure I am still alive and functioning.

I am a dog mom,
mother to a white fur baby toddler,
and a police officer wife.
The Officer longs to fight the crimes
that go on inside of me more than anything.
And maybe that is why
he became a cop—
to try to protect me from the outside world
since he can’t protect me from within
against my very self/cells.
Cancer has crime scenes
marked all over my body—
from bones to lungs to hips—
the evidence is everywhere
and the verdict is guilty.
And although it tries to murder me
with every new relapse, scene, and place
I am escaping by grace.

And maybe this poetry thing
is just what I needed.
A reminder that I’m not just an essayist
but a poet.
My heart sings psalms
as the chemo drugs calm
the overactive cells within me
saying: breathe
and live
and give life to words and others.
Your end has not come.
Do not daydream of funerals or tears
All of those fears are misplaced
because this writing space
creates vision for the future:
hope.

happy new year!

happy new year!

I hope the new year so far as treated you kindly with fresh perspectives, warm surprises, and warm blessings. In my household, the new year has already been eventful: Josh graduated his police academy training and ceremony after ceremony has been celebrated, appreciated and endured. Josh gave me the honor of pinning on his badge, and I held its weight in gold and silver, in awe of all that Josh has persevered to get to this moment. My family and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

In the midst of all the celebrating, I was undergoing and finishing up my last few rounds of radiation. I was recommended to have 10 sessions of radiation to my C5 cervical spine (the area around the back of your neck.) I at first panicked because it was radiation to my C7 cervical spine a couple of years ago resulted in intense shoulder and neck pain for months. It has improved for sure, but still when any medical professional touches my neck, their hands immediately fly into the air as if my shoulders were a hot kettle that burned them. They are always just in shock of how hard my neck and shoulders are; you honestly don’t have to be a medical professional to tell this fact. Today, I still combat this pain with a pain management trio of massage, acupuncture, and medication.

So I write to you now with the 10th radiation treatment completed. It’s tradition to ring the bell after completion of treatment, but this was like my 4th time completing a radiation regiment. Isn’t that bell supposed to signify that I am completely done with radiation, that I will never have to return back here again? In my case, I’ve returned several times. It would almost feel like I’m lying if I rang that bell. It’s not that I’m not hopeful about my health, but when you look back and remember the other 3 bell ringings its hard not to feel conflicted about this bell for me. I don’t want to stain the bell’s brass for other hopeful cancer patients with my unfortunate multiple trips back here.

Now, I thankfully have a little over a week break from all treatment. My body definitely needs a break from radiation and chemotherapy and multiple-day trips to the hospital. Since I’ve had radiation to my neck before, I’m anxiously trying to prepare against the side effects that come afterwards. I follow a yoga YouTube instructor for neck stretches, hoping to prevent pain and the moments providing stress relief as well. I almost always put a neck/shoulder heating pad while I watch tv or read. I massage a salve onto my neck every night before sleeping, praying that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night to have to take any pain medication. I’m trying to be more hydrated in hopes that I can keep my throat and esophagus moist, to relieve any burns that might have occurred on the inside of my throat, drenching the radiation fire with water, Propel, tea, coffee, anything.

I will update again sooner rather than later my friends. Thank you always for reading my updates and faithfully praying for me and asking how I am doing. He is good!

2016.

It’s truly incredible to think and reflect that another year has passed. I am still not used to thinking and saying that it is now 2016. 2016! And yet, since finishing chemotherapy treatments this past summer, I’ve been thinking more and more about time, time passing, and comparing where I was a year ago with where I am at now, and it amazes me. To think that one year ago, I was about to start radiation in the midst of chemotherapy again, and now here I am, cancer-free, chemo-free, radiation-free. Oh, there is so much the body can do in just one year!  

And yes, I am re-reading old blog posts once again like a time-capsule, breaking open the box of my past thoughts, holding them like distant treasures. I am still in awe of what I was hoping for, praying for, predicting for and how at times I was so close and at other times so far away from knowing the wonderful surprises of the new year of the Soveriegn Planner. (His timing is always so good!)

From time-capsule blogpost “dear 2014”

2014, you somehow knew what I needed:

DEPENDENCE.

On God.
On prayer.
On the Word.
On family.
On friends.

Oh, I’m learning now how much I actually already knew independence, pride, selfishness, and that what I thought was adult, independent life in beginning of 2014 was really a mythical mirage.

[…]

I only ask some things of you now, dear friend 2014.

2014, can you whisper to 2015 and ask of the same things, to continue to grow me in humility and grace and dependence and gratitude?

2014, please show up again in my thought life and mind during 2015, reminding me of what happened between us to instill confidence in the Author and Creator of you?

2014, thank you.
2015, thank you in advance.

oh 2015, how you did continue to grow me in humility and grace and dependence and gratitude, and how I am learning deeper still that I have so much more to learn and understand about them. Because sometimes, more often than I like to think, my mind relapses on lessons learned, and my heart must be stubbornly taught once again. And yet, He is a faithful and patient Teacher (phil 1:6).

For instance, I see my heart learning more and more about the discipline of gratitude, that our hearts need it even more in times of goodness as well as suffering. Gratitude planted and sprouted within the soils of my sufferings, and now once the daily sufferings subside, the gratitude subsides with it, along with its by-product joy. Oh, how these little seedlings of gratitude and joy seem to wilt with neglect as my heart thinks that the growing “stability” of normalcy, of life seems to stem from self-centered me. Oh, how the seeds of gratitude must push through even harder soil of everyday-life clay in my heart!

oh, and there is so much to be thankful for for 2015!

  • Finishing chemotherapy treatments for the 3rd time in my life
  • My hair growing back
  • Being a Patient Champion for Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon
  • Josh and I dating
  • Meeting my favorite band Punch Brothers with one of my best friends Katie
  • Getting to move back into my house with wonderful and silly and stay-up-all-hours-of-the-night and supportive roommate-sisters
  • Tutoring at OSU once again
  • Meeting and making many more friends

There are the day to day things too of 2015 I could thank Him for, from sleeping in to early morning CABS bus rides with friends to drinking coffee without upsetting my stomache to recovering my memory more and more…These are truly the daily seeds of gratitude that I must plant in my heart and watch its field harvest grow bountiful.

dear 2016,
I ask the same of you as I did of 2015. I know He is sovereignly planning all good things in this 2016 year from events to my life, to people, to growing of my heart and relationship with Him. Help me to see them and experience them and thank Him again for them.

2015, thank you.
2016, thank you in advance.