Saturday, January 29, 2011

She has a Wonderful Heart

As I've gone through this process the last few weeks, I've been clenching my fists a lot.  My mom pointed it out to me a couple of times.  I guess it's a habit I've started.  When I feel I'm about to have something painful / scary / or hard done, I clench my fists and close my eyes and just picture my 3 beautiful kids.  I picture to myself how thankful I am it is me going through it, and not me standing next to them watching them go through it.  That truly helps get through the rough stuff.  I just can't imagine having to stand by and watch your own children suffer.
   But when I open my eyes, and it's over...I see my mom.  Standing there watching me go through it.  I'm her little girl.  She is standing by watching her little go through it.  And then it makes my heart hurt for her.  This whole thing I know has not been easy for her, but she always tries to make every situation better.  Let me give you a little history to this:

When I was a teenager we lived in San Leandro, California (just across the bay from San Francisco).  If we ever needed to go to San Fran or to the west side of the bay we had to cross a toll bridge.  It would either be the Oakland Bay Bridge or the Dumbarton Bridge.  Once you pay the toll and enter the bridge you have to stop at a light and wait your turn to go on.  So my mom thought of this fun idea.  She said...
" Let's pay the toll for the car behind us too.  And then when we go up and stop we can look back and see their reaction."
  So my brothers and I piled in the backseat so we could watch out the back window.  It was so fun to see their expression and look of surprise and confusion when they toll man would just point up to our car and tell them we had covered their fee.  They must have been surprised because not a lot of people did that.  But it was a game my mom started and we did every once in a while when we crossed a toll bridge. (Today it's $6.00 per car to cross, back then it was still $5.00 to cross----or $10.00 every now and again).
     Then one day she decided we could try another game.  We were at a McDonlad's drive-thru and she said "Let's pay for the persons order behind us".  (Risky little game to play in Utah at McDonalds :),
but we did.  It was so fun to see the look on that moms face when her Happy Meals were coming out for free.  The funny thing is, when we drove away I had such a good feeling inside, ya know, it's always so nice to be surprised with something like that.
      So jump ahead today, we obviously don't do that EVERY time we go through a drive thru, but every now and again I will say to my kids....should we pay for the car behind us??  Our favorite is at Sonic when someone is sitting at the tables waiting for their order and you pay for it for them through the drive thru, because then they have no idea where it came fun.  My kids love it when they see the missionaries there because they're a given....we always buy a little secret  treat to send out to the missionaries.   It's just a way we've paid forward a wonderful game my mom taught me.
So another example is yesterday.  We met a man named John in the BMT clinic.  He's gone through chemo once before, and now is working towards getting a bone marrow transplant.  He lives in Idaho, but has been staying in Utah for the last 4 months.  My mom was immediately worried about John.  I'd see her scoot her chair right over next to John so she could talk to him.  Then she told all the nurses "I am John's support person, so if he needs anything let me know".   As my mom was talking to John my nurse came over and told me (with tears in her eyes) how nice it was for my mom to be so kind to John and that John had had a really hard day and was alone.  I think my mom is just in tune to what people need.
   Next thing I know she's opened up the mini fridge and "mixing drinks" for everyone and bringing them around.  She called them "Sunshine Drinks" you could get a "sun setter"  or a "sun shiner"  (I'll post the recipes at the bottom).  Pretty soon I look around and there is a party of patients, supporters and nurses gathered around my bed.  Even John got down from his comfy chair and pulled a folding chair over closer by us while he finished his last blood transfusion. 
   One of the head doctors walked in (he was fairly new to Huntsman) and he said he thought my mom was the lady in charge of the whole place.  She said "Would you like me to make you a drink?".
  So yep, that's my mom.  I've learned a lot from her.  She has a wonderful heart.  And even when her heart is sad, because she's watching her little girl fight cancer, she's still willing to make you a happy drink and try to brighten your day.

This is a pic I hate to put out there, because we all want our pics taken when we look our very best.  But this is what cancer looks like.  This was day one when I slept all day.  I would wake up freezing cold because even though they warm your blood up before they put it back into you, it's still cold.  So this is me sleeping with about 15 warm blankets my mom had put on me to help keep me warm.

And this is John.  On day two I was able to collect over 4 million stem cells, John was only able to collect 300 total.  It was a hard day for John and he has a rough road ahead, so please include John in your prayers.  Heavenly Father will know which John he is---he's the one from Idaho.

Thank you mom and Tom for being such wonderful care takers and helping me get through this process.  Mom, thanks for making it fun when I felt good and making it comfortable when I felt icky.  Thanks for distracting me so I wouldn't miss my family and reminding why I'm doing this all those times I wanted to give up.  And Tom---thanks so much for giving up your favorite spot on the couch, your favorite bed, and your time with your wife so she could be with me, and for always making sure I had everything I needed.
I love you both so much!

mom & Tom


Sunshine Drink Recipes

The Sun Shiner  1/2 c Sprite,  1/2 c orange juice

The Sun Setter  1/2 c Sprite,  1/2 c grape juice

Pour into Styrofoam white cup, fill with hospital ice and top off with a bendy straw!  Voila!


  1. reading this made my day better.
    thank you for sharing your mom with us.
    what an angel.

  2. What an awesome description of your mom and all she means to you, Jen. It's no wonder that you are the person you are because of the great mom she is to you! Thanks so much for the update and, though it sounds like you've really been through the wringer lately, the news of the awesome harvest of healthy stem cells was so good to hear. I have to say that the pictures made it very real to those of us who are supporting you from afar. While hard to see, I'm just so very thankful for the care that you are receiving and mostly that you are still here! Take care, friend, and I hope that you can feel my love and support even when I feel so far away.

    p.s. Kathy, I'll take a Sunshiner. And, thanks for being the best mom ever to my friend!

  3. You have a fabulous mom. I'm so happy for you that the harvest went well.

  4. Wow, Wow, Wow! You are amazing and now we know where you got some of it from. Take care. We will pray for John from Idaho and for some good sleep for you! So glad you got to see the kids. Unclench those fists and wiggle your fingers!

  5. This post really touched me. What a blessing to have such a wonderful mom.

  6. I loved this post! I loved getting to know your mom and partake in the 'Sunshine' drink! You do have an amazing mother and I was very touched by you and her that day I went to Huntsman with my dad. I went up the next day and saw John again. He is in my prayers, (along with you and my dad!) I hope all is well back at home! Tell your mom hi for me!

    Take care,

    Ginger Jacobson