Monday, November 29, 2010

The great escape . . . is coming

Ladies and gentlemen, fresh air is around the corner.

JennyReeder enjoying an alpine picnic in Wales, 1993

As of this afternoon JR's neutrophil level has DOUBLED! She's now at a high enough level that they'll let her leave - soon. She's trying not to get her hopes up but there's a chance our dear JennyReeder will get to leave tomorrow. (Say prayers & cross fingers, everyone.) Tuesday is her last day of chemo and if she's still doing as well, she is going to get to go outside and eat fresh fruits and vegetables again!

If that news wasn't exciting enough, today JennyReeder is trying on hats - lots of hats. I imagine it's like an 80s chick flick in her room today. Weren't the girls in those movies always trying on hats and laughing? Apparently she's trying on all kinds of hats that people have sent her. She says she looks stylin'. How could she not? She did mention that she's going to look for some kind of hat liner since her head now has a different texture and putting a hat straight on her head doesn't quite feel the same.

The prayers are working, so keep them coming. Just think, our girl could be out soon!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Of Naps and Neutrophils

As most of you know, Jenny is very organized and structures her time well. One of her long-standing Sunday rituals is the Sacred Sunday Nap. As the name implies, this mandatory practice occurs after church, when she gets to snuggle down under a quilt and doze for a couple of hours, helping to guarantee that her Sabbath day is indeed a day of rest.

Jenny needed the Sacred Sunday Nap a little earlier today than usual, because she was woken up at 5 or 6 o'clock this morning by someone wanting to take her blood. She couldn't fall back asleep and finally resigned herself to a few hours of wakefulness until her blessed Sunday Nap mid-morning. Ahhhh....

Here's the news on the cancer front:
  • Jenny's white blood cell count is down but her platelet count is up, which means her bone marrow is doing something good. Hooray!
  • That Sacred Nap was even more important today because Jenny had some unexplained bloating and cramping that totally wiped her out. (As if getting woken up at 5am by someone poking a needle in your arm isn't tiring enough!) She's going to discuss this more with her doctors tomorrow to try to identify the cause.
  • Jenny is probably not going home on Monday.
  • Jenny's will receive her last chemo treatment on Tuesday, which means she could go home on Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • In order to be released from the hospital, Jenny has to have a neutrophil count of 1000. (She's not 100% certain what the neutrophil count/measurement is but has been told it has to do with the ratio of white blood cells to red blood cells. According to an entry on, a neutrophil is a type of white blood cell.) Right now, her neutrophils are at 700.
Stay tuned as more news on Jenny's release date becomes available. You know you'll read it here first, folks. In the meantime, pray for more white blood cells/neutrophils for Jenny!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Long Journey Home

Good news and some bummer news for our most loved Reeder today. The very, very bummer news is that Jenny will not be coming home for her last treatment and will remain in her love adorned room until her blood count is higher (it dropped again today as a result of yesterday's chemo). The good news is that Jenny only used the word "bummer" and not a stronger and more colorful word to describe how she was feeling about the news from the oncologist. Although very disappointed, Jenny seemed positive and strong as she talked about her new do and how she spent the day experimenting with scarfs and hats. She discovered that she prefers scarves as they keep her sometimes chilled noggin' warmer. Jenny is anxious for fresh air, fresh fruit and veggies and the comfort of being at home. We decided that a HUGE fruit salad (and cold-sore medicine) will be waiting for her at the end of this next week. We absolutely adore you Jenny and will be sending high blood count vibes your way!

As Jenny was telling me how she was experimenting with new looks, she sent this photo to my email. She can totally rock pink.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Real Deal

While some of us were out getting awesome Black Friday deals, Jenny was getting her own kind of Black Friday deal, in the form of great news from Dr. Wonderful.

Apparently, during today’s visit, Jenny learned that, although she is only on day 18 of treatment, her body (and blood) is acting like day 22. This is GREAT news!

When I asked for a translation of what that meant, Jenny explained, “My blood counts are showing that progress. My white blood cells are going up and the red blood cells are stable. That means that they are not going up, but at least they are not falling as they have been for the last few weeks. However, they’re still pretty low.”

The best part of this news, is that now there is a slight chance that she can come home this weekend, or maybe Monday. Jenny tells me that the oncologist that is on call this weekend is very (almost too) conservative, so it wouldn’t surprise her if she didn’t get the go ahead to go home from him.

To be able to be cleared to go home, Jenny has to

1) Be weaned off of all of her IV antibiotics. She has been weaned off of one now, but isn’t sure how many more she is still on.

2) Be weaned off of the steroids.

3) Finish off her chemo… maybe. She had chemo today and will have one more round before she’s done, but the doctor thinks she may be able to do it outpatient.

4) Learn how to tie a mean headscarf. Ok, just kidding. But, if you do know someone that has headscarf tying skills, she would totally love to be put in touch with them.

There are so many things that excite Jenny about the prospect of coming home. “I can’t wait for fresh air! I can’t wait to eat a tomato or fruit, or carrot sticks or sleep in my own bed.” She probably would have continued on, but then made sure to point out that she’s trying not to get her hopes up too high, she’s counting on Monday-ish, but does not want to jump the gun and come home before her body can handle it.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I asked Jenny to give me a list of things that she is thankful for. She had so many that I stopped her after the first 10.

So many I am thankful for:

1) SO many people that call and say they think of me all the time.

2) People praying for me

3) People who send emails and texts…. All the people that send me stuff!

4) A girl detective/spy school book that was sent to her from a friend

5) The book of Sudoku puzzles that Sheila gave me

6) Ginger Ale – a rediscovered love

7) Michelle Loosli’s roasted cauliflower

8) People that bring me food

9) So thankful for the quilts – they brighten my room

10) Kind, kind nurses

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The unveiling

Today was a weird day she woke up feeling fine, took a shower and then just crashed. The day was a total relapse and she just felt awful. As a sidenote Jenny has had an unwelcome visitor in the form of a old lady with a New York accent loudly chatting on her cell phone outside her room. Today Jenny was not in the mood to have to listen to her loud rantings so she called the nurses station to ask them to quiet her. Nothing changed so after waiting five minutes Jenny got up and went to the hallway and said "lady you have to lower your voice" she didn't hear her so Jenny raised her voice and said it again and told her that she was tired of being woken up by her, after sizing her up the lady slinked away. Jenny felt like she had just cleansed the temple. (read that in a not sac relig way).

Good/Great news of the day Jennys white blood cell count is up to 1.5 and the oncologist says that they will just skyrocket from there (woot woot). For those keeping count Jenny has just two days of chemo and just five days of treatments.

And now for the new haircut, we had a small quiet head shaving party and Jenny was incredibly brave. There was laughter, dancing, tears and a heated discussion about whether Katie Perry sings about a plastic bag in her new song Firework (she does and I was wrong). In the end we were surprised to find that shaving her head didn't make her look sicker in actually made her look strong and powerful and beautiful, seriously she rocks this look. She prefers the top photo, she feels it looks more like her. we love you Jenny and are continually inspired by your strength and determination in this situation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Thanksgiving Wishes

I have three Thanksgiving wishes for Jenny...

1. Sleep.

Jenny is feeling better now that she has gotten a little more sleep, though last night she didn't get as much as she would have liked. She says she has been sleeping better overall, though, and that it has been AMAZING.

2. A hearty appetite.

A friend is bringing Jenny Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (thank you, MM!). The doctors tell her she is malnourished and she tells them that she's eating as much as she can. Hopefully she can follow the American tradition and chow down tomorrow.

3. Her own bed.

Jenny told me that they may release her at the end of next week (or sometime near then), so I'm adding that to my prayers and hope you all do the same!

Happy Thanksgiving, Jenny!
We are all grateful for you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A New Look for Fall

You know that Jenny Reeder, she's always been a little avant-garde. Years ago, when she and I were bunkmates in London we shared a tragic hair appliance experience. It was our first morning in town and I wanted to look my best. (Chuck & Di were on the outs . . .) So I plugged in my hair dryer. I turned it on, it made a scary noise and then exploded. It's too bad that we hadn't yet realized that you can't plug American appliances straight into the wall and expect them to work.

Jenny Reeder (as that is what I will always call her, not Jenny but JennyReeder, like it's Southern or something) had confidence in her curling iron. She plugged it in and it sounded normal. Hooray! Then she grabbed her bangs and began curling. Unfortunately, the curling iron also grabbed her bangs - and didn't let go. "I just burned off my bangs!" became one of my favorite London memories. We all learned from that experience, from Jenny Reeder's great attitude and enjoyed watching the bangs grow back. They did, you know, and they looked fantastic!

Jenny Reeder and the author of this post posing after their Hwat Chawcholate Tawk skit at the, ahem, "talent" show. Look how great her bangs look a few months after the famous curling iron incident! By the way, we are stuffed with extra clothes, not just with the Fred Bread.

Jenny is going for a new look tonight. Once again it's not entirely her choice but she will rock her new look. Tonight she's having a celebration by shaving off her old hair and starting fresh. Has she been looking forward to this? Um, no. But that Jenny Reeder has been having a lot of pretty exciting experiences lately. Why not one more?

Here are some other exciting updates:
  • Jenny Reeder has some new blood! Yeah!
  • She also has a bunch of new platelets! Also yeah! Today her platelet count is 44. Normal is 100 but at least it's not 10 anymore.
  • Her protein count is very low. To help her get it back up her mom went to Ted's Montana Grill and brought her a big steak. She told me she's going to also help raise her protein levels with some delicious Ensure. "At least it's chocolate," she quipped.
  • More big news - she slept last nigh! The doctor upped her Ambien dosage and it worked!
  • Jenny Reeder was STANDING as I talked to her this afternoon! She also sounded so much better than I had imagined. She still feels pretty crummy but being able to stand is a big deal.
  • She's had some lucid moments lately and has been able to do some Sudoku and just finished the Hunger Games trilogy.
That's the scoop for tonight. Send a few extra prayers her way when you read this. We all love her and want her better soon. Congratulations to JR on being a trendsetter with this new look!

Monday, November 22, 2010


You know that scene in THE WIZARD OF OZ where Dorothy can't stay awake in the field of poppies? She has no choice but to sleep and the sleep comes easily?

Well, that's what we need for our Reeder.
She so desperately wants to be able to get some good rest so she can get some strength back. And we need to pray...for sleep.

Today was "relatively better" (so much of this is all relative, isn't it?)

The CT Scan was the easiest thing she has yet experienced. 3 minutes and it was done. They confirmed she has sinusitis (my apologies to the good spellers out there) but it's a lot better today. It's tender but she can breathe.

She watched a little GILMORE GIRLS that explains a lot of what made the day better (who can't benefit from a little bit 'o Lorelei?) and her mom is still there and that's just such a blessing.

Visitors have slowed down and Jenny is actually grateful for that. It's just so tiring. But, she knows she is loved and prayed for and is so grateful for everyone's thoughts and kind deeds.

And now we just need to pray for the best night's sleep she's had in a long time.
God can do that.
He can put her in a little field of poppies and help her sleep tonight.

Pray that He will.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Storm

Jenny's mom attended church services today in Jenny's ward (a ward is what Mormons call an individual church congregation), of which I am also a member. I spoke to her briefly afterward as she was leaving and of course asked her how Jenny was doing. "This is the storm," her mom replied. "She's going through the storm."

As I'm sure you've all been able to piece together from the blog posts this past week, The Storm means that Jenny's body is simply getting beat down by the chemo. Positive attitudes and supportive friends notwithstanding, it's a rough ride and it's taking a toll on Jenny.

Since the doctors discovered Jenny's infections, she hasn't been able to leave her room for her daily walks due to the increased risk of further infection. Not that she has the energy to go for a walk most of the time anyway. Nor much of an appetite either (but also no nausea lately--yay!). Her good friend Mauri brought some falafel last night that tasted so good.

Today's big news that Jenny wanted all her blog readers to know about is that she spent an hour trying to blow her nose. Yes, you read that right. It took her an hour just to blow her nose. Here's how it went: Spray saline solution into the nose, try to blow the stuffiness out. Repeat. Repeat again. When all was said and done, some "scary stuff" had come out and she'd used almost an entire box of tissues.

When asked about her hair, Jenny said, "I don't want to talk about that." It has started to come out.

In spite of being in the middle of The Storm, Jenny continues to look for the positive elements in her days. For instance, her two sisters have been here all weekend, visiting from The West. (They fly home tomorrow.) It's been wonderful to have them here, not only to boost her spirits but also to take advantage of their mad artistic skillz. To wit, today they gave Jenny a pedicure. Not just any pedicure, but a very snazzy designer pedicure. Check it out:

This just in! One of the blood infections Jenny has is connected to her sinuses (hence, all the nasal congestion). Consequently, she's going for a CT scan (tonight?). Keep your fingers crossed they'll figure out what's going on.

Jenny continues to be very popular and hosted a steady stream of visitors this weekend (in addition to her sisters). She appreciates all the love and support everyone is showing her and enjoys seeing her friends. She also appreciates it when visits are short, as she tires easily. In fact, she had to end our phone call this afternoon after only a few minutes because all the talking was leaving her out of breath. Please keep that in mind when going to visit.

Tomorrow Jenny will get a new PICC line put in and another round of chemo. Two weeks down and two to go! I'm sure we are all counting down the days with her until the chemo is over. Hang in there, friend! I have no doubt you'll weather this storm and soon you and all your new white blood cells will be basking in the light of the rainbow that follows.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


When I visited Jenny last weekend I took pictures of the views out her hospital window, about at the level of her bed, to give you all an idea of what she sees everyday.

Of course then I had to ask her about her favorite views, the good views, the bad views, the funny views... here are her answers:

Not-so-pleasant views: the bottom of a barf bucket, the low numbers of my blood counts on the charts I keep every day, the one mean nurse missing a tooth, and sometimes the sight of that black room service tray...

Good Views: The favorite quilt from my childhood. We always fought over it--it was so soft, yellow with orange ties. Whoever was sick got first dibs. It's been patched up over the years. After her own health scare and legitimate "claim" to the yellow blanket this summer, my sister Annie just mailed it to me!

Whenever I get a prescription or new iv, the nurse has to scan my wristband. So I see a lot of red-green-blue barcode light. I had my first wristband for a week and a half before it started wearing off. Then the scanner took forever. Finally I got a new one that is good as new!

When I have the strength and courage to go for a walk, I like to see the views from the other side of the Robertb E. Lee oncology wing. From one window I can see the Masonic Temple and from another I can see the Washington monument and the capitol. Quite impressive! And of course I love to see the way the sun shines differently on the beautiful colored trees.

Views that are missed: I miss fresh air and mountains. I miss driving and seeing my neighborhood and the little girls playing dress-up next door. I miss my nieces and nephews. I miss seeing my bedroom and all my books.

But mostly I miss energy and talking without losing my breathe and running. One day... soon!

And you know Jenny, we all miss seeing you on a regular basis! Keep looking for the good views!

Friday, November 19, 2010

scratch that - nothing is normal.

Today was a rough one for Jenny. Please send lots of prayers her way.

Here's a recap:

The day started out on the wrong foot with a night of little-to-no sleep. First, a nurse was late bringing her the evening dose of medications and antibiotics. Then, the TV button broke and needed to be replaced. After that was fixed, her light wouldn't turn off - so they had to replace that button as well. What little sleep she did get was not quite restful, because of a stuffed nose. The main she is feeling is in her nose/sinuses because of the infections she has.

Speaking of infections, the day did not get any better when she learned that her PICC line needed to be removed because of them (the infections). This fact has caused the most tears, which she insists are really because she's so tired. As usual, Jenny explains that even though she is not happy that it needed to be removed, it is really a good thing. Though they will have to "poke" her every time she needs an injection or to draw blood, (causing more bruising than normal), this does mean she will have a three day reprieve from Chemo, which they will do again when the PICC is replaced in three days.

Jenny told me that her friends M & J were there to distract her and tell her funny stories while the PICC was removed. She was so grateful for that!

She is worried about her insurance situation. It seems that she could make some changes that might help, but it would put her "student" status at risk, and that may cause her to loose her fellowship. Our bishop has assured her that he will figure it out.

This evening, things were looking up. She ate pasta today and was craving pizza this evening. Her sister just arrived in town from Denver, bearing pictures of Jenny's nephews and nieces. One thing she has missed most while in the hospital is that she cannot be around children. She has loved the letters, drawings and videos her little friends have sent to her the last two weeks.

The doctor has told her to expect the next 10 - 14 days to be the worst of the treatment. Although, as reported yesterday, the leukemia is gone (along with all of her blood cells), Jenny is really worried about what is going to grow back. She says this process is simply exhausting.

Jenny wanted to reassure everyone that she gets every email, Facebook message and card - and REALLY appreciates every one of them. She apologizes that she can't respond to all of them. Please know that she is receiving them and that they are helping her.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Church Is True

Jenny had good news and bad news for me today, and I have to say that I am super excited to say that the Oncologist came in today and told her that the LEUKEMIA IS GONE! Awesome right, Jenny says that she thinks that just means all her blood cells are gone, but its a huge victory. This means that she will continue her chemo cycle (halfway done) and then they will do a bone marrow biopsy at the end of the month to check for remission. The chromogenetics test came back totally fine, and it also means no bone marrow transfusions. So a banner day in Jenny Reeder Land. The bad news is that Jenny has no white blood cells (the doctor said she might have 2 of them swimming around in there). She has three infections one in her colon and two in her blood, so they are pumping her with antibiotics. She is worried that they might remove her PICC line, and she really doesn't want that to happen so lets all pray that she can keep it in. She is really tired and couldn't find the energy to pick up a book today, so we know that means she is crazy tired. She was in great spirits and was buoyed up by the good news (i think we all are). Lets remember that this fight is not over and we must continue to pray for her and visit her. We love you Jenny and love the new do' you look fabulous and I think you totally rock the pixie!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspiring Strength

Last night was a tough night for Jenny.  She doesn't feel nausea constantly but suddenly it hits and she loses lunch.  This morning she had no appetite.  The caregivers wanted to beat it this morning, so they've been trying different anti-nausea drugs.  She's on Compezine now and it seems to work but really wipes her out -- so much that she missed the beloved shower this morning, but was able to get it in in the afternoon and felt much better.  Other than this morning having no appetite, she has been able to eat well and has occasional cravings.  Today it was for sweet potato fries, so her mom ran out to get them.

The caregivers discovered today that Jenny has an infection.  They can't figure out where it is, but know she has one because she has a fever.  The steroids also make it difficult to determine where the infection is.  She says she thinks it might be sinuses because her nose really hurts.

Yesterday Jenny didn't feel up to blow-drying her hair.  The nurse came in and told her it looked like she was already losing her hair.  It was just because it didn't look as full and lovely as usual.  :)  The new hair cut will probably be tomorrow.  Can't wait to see it! 

Everyone at school is super understanding and keeps telling Jenny not to worry about her status and her TA work.  But this frustrates Jenny, she just wants to know what's going on with her status, insurance, etc. and how it's all going to work out.

Tonight is Ward Council.  Jenny is hopeful that she can attend via web-cam, unless she has a doozy of a night like last night.

Yesterday and today were tough.  Pray for Jenny to feel better.  And Jenny, you keep inspiring us with your strength and positive attitude!  :)  You remind me of the LDS hymn Carry On (text by Ruth May Fox) . . .
Firm as the mountains around us,
Stalwart and brave we stand
On the rock our fathers planted
For us in this goodly land --
The rock of honor and virtue,
Of faith in the living God. 
They raised his banner triumphant --
Over the desert sod . . .
Carry on, carry on, carry on!

Tuesday update with Jenny part deux

I had the supreme privilege to talk to Jenny from all the way out in Utah today.  Today was a rough day of cancer-fighting our superhero friend, but she was her usual Jenny-self and it made me feel happy to talk to her. She was feeling especially happy about the red velvet slippers a wonderful friend had sent. (Thank you wonderful friend whose name I forgot to write down! Your red velvet slippers are LOVED!)

Some things I learned from Jenny today that other Jenny-followers might want to know:

  • Home Teachers are capable of making wonderful chicken enchiladas. She was so happy to have those delicacies and so pleased to eat them last night.
  • She is still holding onto her hair.  Hoping for another week or two at least.
  • A school colleague came to help her finish filling out her Fellowship application that was due yesterday. Yay! Good news that the application is done.
  • Yesterday she received another dose (? please pardon my lack of proper medical jargon knowledge - I'm one of those people who majored in Humanities in college) of platelets and didn't have an allergic reaction this time. Good news! When she's had an allergic reaction in the past she's dealt with hives and needed a ton of Benadryl which, you can imagine, knocks her out.
  • Today was the first day the anti-nausea medicine didn't work. Not fun. While the anti-nausea medicine means she can consume food (like the aforementioned chicken enchiladas) it has side-effects of it's own such as making her cold and sluggish. (Did I get that right JR?)
  • I also learned that "Acute" in Jenny's diagnosis means the Leukemia came on really suddenly. Her doctor told her a blood test just a couple of months ago would have shown no signs of her current condition.
Jenny - it was so good to talk to you today. I hope I didn't slaughter the daily update.  Next time I will take more careful notes. As you're all well aware, Jenny is one of the most amazing people I know.  If there's a person on this planet who can kick this, it's her. 
Our friendship goes back 17 years to when we met as flat-mates on Study Abroad in London.  And since I don't have a good current shot to share (other than the fancy Ruby Red-velvet Slippers) I thought it would be fun to share one of Jenny when I first knew her, doing a stellar Druid impression. She's a woman of many gifts and talents, that girl. I sure do love her.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pollyanna & Friends

Today is not my day to give the official Jenny update, however I wanted to share some photos I just got. When Sue and I went to see Jenny last Thursday night, we were delighted to be joined by our mutual friend Nicole, who used to live in our neighborhood and now lives in Southern Maryland. She was passing through town on a road trip with her family and stopped in to see Jenny.

Nicole is a skilled photographer and took several pictures of Jenny's designer room. To complement Ashley's decorations, one of Jenny's friends (was it Rachel?) hung three gorgeous "crystal balls" in front of the window, tied with brown satin ribbon.

Not only are these crystal balls elegant, they also remind Jenny of the film, "Pollyanna," in which Pollyanna talks about the way the sun refracts through her aunt's crystal chandelier to make rainbows in the room--one of the many ways Pollyanna sought and saw the good in every situation. Jenny is certainly an example of having a positive, Pollyanna-ish attitude even in the midst of this trial.

Here are a few shots of Ashley's handiwork, showcasing the warm fall colors outside.

Ashely deftly mixed elements from art and nature to create an inviting space that reminds Jenny and all who visit her of the beauty that surrounds us, the abundance of our lives, and the importance of our faith in the Savior.

The twinkling white lights next to the window give the room a cozy, even magical, feel, making it a little easier to believe in miracles while you're there.

Sue and I were definitely the LEAST decorative elements in the room that night! Nevertheless, we were grateful to spend some time with Jenny and Nicole.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 7

I'll be honest. I accepted the invite to blog for Jenny for purely selfish motives.
I wanted to secure the chance to talk to her every week and hear her voice.
And I think talking to her this morning did me more good than her (that's pretty classic Reeder, don't you think?)

I found out about everything that first weekend in November via txt messages. I was working an event and she was in the hospital. But, even over texts, my heart was in Virginia. And it has been every day.

I was just telling Jenny that because I'm connected to her through several groups of friends (or rather because I'm connected to several groups of friends BECAUSE of her), that I have a rare chance to see all the things people are trying to do, wanting to do, planning to do.

Is there a girl more loved than Jenny Reeder?
If there is, I do not know her.

SO...on with the update of Day 7 (and we'll see how good my journalism skills are...if I got this all correct).

First of all, Jenny sounds great and that made my heart happy.
So great that when she told me about her steroid treatment (daily pills to make her organs strong). She said there weren't any side effect but that her face is getting puffy. She said people tell her that her face ISN'T getting puffy. And she just wants to say, "Shut up, jerks!" That made me laugh right out loud (so even if her face ISN'T getting puffy...maybe just play along with her...grin).

One good thing about the steroids is that her appetite came back. In fact, yesterday she was randomly craving chicken enchiladas but then Reeder realized she was in Virginia and asked, "Where in the world am I going to find normal chicken enchiladas here?"
There is one Mexican restaurant that she loves but has only had their fajitas. She called a friend who called a friend and was assured this place had good chicken enchiladas. But, they came. And Jenny tried them go.
Happily, her Home Teacher is making some for her and bringing them today.

Tomorrow (Day 8) is a big chemo day that will likely wipe her out. It's a drug she has had before but it's the drug that will likely make her hair fall out. A friend is going to come and give her a cute little pixy cut in preparation. I don't know about you but I think if ANYONE can pull off a new look, it's Reeder. Petite people always can pull of a new look.

She is overwhelmed by the love and prayers and support. But, that's what happens when things like this happen. You find out who YOU really are through the way people are moved into action because of the impact and influence you have on them.
And I for one am REALLY grateful for Jenny's impact and influence on me.

(this picture was taken way too long ago...but it makes me happy.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Update

Jenny had a pretty good Sunday. She didn't get any chemo, just an infusion of white blood cells to boost her counts, which had fallen to a dangerously low 0.5 (instead of the seven to nine that they should be). She felt so good that she took not just one but TWO walks around her floor today. I'm sure she'll be training for a marathon again in no time!

Jenny's fabulous friend Debbie was visiting from out-of-town this weekend and spent most of her time with Jenny (leaving her husband to take care of the kids in the hotel room--awesome). Here are Katie and Debbie visiting our girl. (Not sure why it's so small. Click it to get a full-screen view.) Thanks to Anais for the cool panoramic pic.

Other good news from today:
  • Jenny's kidneys are once again functioning at 100%. Woot woot! She no longer requires the services of her nephrologists.
  • Jenny learned that she does NOT have the Philadelphia chromosome, which is a big relief and will help the doctors fine tune her chemo/treatment as they proceed.

When she wasn't visiting with friends or doing laps around the hospital, Jenny dug into The Hunger Games. In fact, she's nearly finished with it and on the look-out to borrow the second book in the series later this week. Anyone have a copy to lend her?

Stay tuned for more pictures and keep those comments and visits coming! Big hugs to you, Jenny!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Warmth and Sunshine!

Its very apparent when you are near Jenny's hospital room, there is just joy and love seeping out from under the door!

This weekend Jenny's room has had some out-of-town-guest-love, her Aunt and a dear friend, DW, in addition to her sweet mom, are bringing extra joy to the hospital room.

I am sure you all know that Jenny has mad-good sewing skills and is always making aprons or quilts for others. Well, bring on the quilters who are out in force to return the sewing-love and to take care of Jenny! DW, who drove down from Ohio, brought with her a beautiful quilt she made for Jenny (above photo), it is the perfect addition to add warmth and love to Jenny's life!

Last weekend some other friends pulled together fabric, sewing machines and love to make a bright and cheery quilt for her. Others pitched in to drive the quilt to the quilter, watch kids, sew on the binding and buy supplies. Truly a team effort! She gets cold after her treatments and so both quilts are perfect (and if there are any other quilts in the works please don't be deterred, they can happily be put in rotation).

A few other tidbits from Jenny's life:
  • Other patients and nurses have come to take a tour of Jenny's well decorated hospital room
  • Jenny has not met any of her neighbors, but she is the youngest on the floor by 30 years
  • For lunch she had a gourmet burger with grilled onions, thanks DW!
  • One highlight from today was a phone call from an old Bishop who is currently a mission President in Japan
  • Make sure to ask Jenny about the, and I quote, "sweaty-tooth-mad-man"
  • Jenny loves that she can still shower by herself...but do not interrupt her while she is blow-drying her hair. This morning she told her Dr to come back later, after her hair was done!
  • Visitors who break out into spontaneous dance and cheer moves are deeply loved! (Dance moves are not required to visit, though, check with SS in advance in case this does become a requirement at a later date)
  • The love from all of you is evident and heart-warming!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A New Reality

One week ago this evening Jenny was being moved from the emergency room to a longer-term room. She and the doctors knew something was wrong, but she did not yet have even a preliminary diagnosis. When we spoke that night, she was concerned but in good spirits. Tonight, Jenny told me, “This has been the longest week of my life.”

Jenny explains that the chemo has now killed everything – her white blood cell count down very low. She is getting blood transfusions frequently as well as getting injections of platelets. In the next few days she expects to receive the results from her bone marrow analysis, which will tell the doctors the specific brand of leukemia. This will allow them to come up with an even more focused plan of attack.

She has become an expert on her unique medication cocktails, knowing how to expect to feel after each dose. Luckily her anti-nausea medication has worked perfectly, but she knows that not long after taking it she will be super light headed”

Last night, Jenny had an allergic reaction to the plantlets she had just received. “I woke up at 2 a.m to go to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and noticed that I had hives all over my chest.” She called the nurse who quickly ordered a round of Benadryl and called her doctor. They decided that the reaction likely came from the preservatives in the bag of platelets, but this is still something that they need to keep their eyes on.

Also last night, Jenny was able to hold a Relief Society presidency meeting in her hospital room. (For those who don't know, Jenny is the Relief Society president of the Shirlington half of the Crystal City Ward) “This was the best thing about last night. It made me feel like there was more to me than just being sick!”

As she reviewed the many developments that have unfolded over the last week, Jenny told me that it has been very up and down emotionally and physically, but after a draining day yesterday, today has been a good day. “I have been more energetic today. I was just given steroids today, no chemo, which seems to have helped.”

Typical of the Reeder attitude we all know and love, Jenny has an inspiring attitude towards the life she is facing. “This is reality for me now – a new reality.”

The first few days, I was in a whirlwind, but this is my life now. I’ll only be here, in the hospital, for three more weeks, but I probably have two more years of chemo ahead of me,” she says. “I go through periods where I’m not ok, but there are times that I think, ‘ok this is my life now.’”

Jenny has been overwhelmed by the huge support network she has had behind her. “I mean, I always knew I had a lot of friends, but the amount of support I’ve received is overwhelming,” she explains. “My friend Debbie, from fifth grade, just drove from Ohio. She brought me a bag full of treats from a bunch of my friends.” Stories like this one seem to be never ending.

To those reading this blog, Jenny would just like to say thank you. “I know that my mission in life isn’t fulfilled yet. I am going to overcome this. I want everyone to know that I know I have a mission in life, and it’s not over. So I think, ‘Well then let’s do it, let’s kick this cancer!”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You are my Sunshine

Jenny says that the treatment is kicking her butt, but says that is a good thing, kick the lymphoblasts right in the trash. Her kidney function is good and her appetite is back woot woot! She ate french toast and pizza today. However she says she is holding out for the Carlyle. We love you Jenny!

Financial Contributions

Many of you desire to make financial contributions to support Jenny.  She--and those of us close to her in the Crystal City Ward--are so appreciative of your desire to help.  While Jenny will certainly need support with medical bills not covered by her insurance, she will also need help covering basic living expenses such as rent and bills in the coming months as she recovers from the treatment.

If you would like to make a financial contribution, you may donate to the fast offering fund of the Crystal City Ward.  The bishop can use these funds to pay Jenny's medical bills and other expenses.  Church members as well as individuals of other faiths are welcome to donate this way.  On the standard donation slip, please indicate that the funds are for the fast offering.  The check should be payable to "Crystal City Ward" or "LDS Church."  Please send the donation with the standard donation slip to the bishop of the CCWard at his home address (email welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com to get this info).  If you are of another faith and would like a donation slip and envelope, please email welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com to request that one be mailed to you.

If you would like to make a gift to Jenny directly, rather than through her local congregation, you are also welcome to write a check, payable to her.  You can mail it to her at her home address (email welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll send it to you).  If you would like to donate to Jenny anonymously, mail it to DS (one of Jenny's housemates), who will deposit checks from anonymous donors into Jenny's account. 

We thank you for your generosity and support for Jenny.

Bishop KS, Crystal City Ward Bishop
SS, Crystal City Ward Shirlington Relief Society Presidency

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"What I love about today."

As you would expect from Jenny, when I asked her for an update for her blog she started listing things she loves about today. Gotta love that girl!

She loves the chocolate protein shakes brought by CL. She has had no appetite and a hard time eating. (I do hear she was also able to also eat half a cheeseburger and some pad Thai, which is great news.) She's craving fresh fruit but she can't have it due to bacterial concerns, but she can eat Clementines if someone peels them for her. (She didn't specify if that means they have to be delivered peeled or what, so email her before you send her a carton full of them!)

She loves her paper chain her roommates made for her to count down her 22 days of chemo. She has 20 days left-- Today she did her second round. It hasn't made her quite as sick as she had expected (she's yet to toss her cookies-- wahoo!), which is hopefully a sign of how she'll feel in the future with further treatment.

"I love my afternoon walk!"

She is loving her doctors and nurses and says they are the greatest. She describes them as a whole team, with groups of doctors for all of her different needs and she is so grateful to them all.

Her blood levels are going back down, which is to be expected. She will probably have more blood transfusions tonight or tomorrow, which usually boosts her energy.

And, of course, she mentioned how blessed she is for the outpouring of love she's receiving from so many people. I told her it's fitting, since she always takes care of so many people.

We love you, Jenny!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

More On How To Help

Jenny continues to be so touched by the outpouring of love that you all have shown her in the past days.  We have been overwhelmed by so many offers to help.  At present, we don't know exactly what Jenny will need over the course of her treatment.  We know that she very much appreciates all the prayers on her behalf.  In addition, we have some ideas for ways to help . . .

Visits:  Continue to contact SS to set up visits.  Remember the visiting rules.  And if you are willing to babysit so that individuals with children can visit, please also email SS.  (Or send an email to welovejennyreeder (at) gmail.)

Meals:  Jenny's mom is staying with Jenny for an undetermined amount of time.  If you would like to provide a meal for her, please email LN in the ward or send an email to welovejennyreeder (at) gmail.

Plane tickets, vouchers, etc.:  We'll talk with Jenny about any members of her family that she would like to have visit her who may not otherwise be able to fly out to visit with such short notice.  If you have vouchers, plane tickets, or frequent flyer miles, or buddy passes that you would like to donate, please email SS or welovejennyreeder (at) gmail.

Phone calls:  We ask that you limit phone calls since Jenny will likely need to get a lot of rest.  However, emails are welcome.

Flowers:  Jenny loves fresh flowers, but her doctors have instructed her not to have them near her.

Updates:  Continue to check here on the blog for daily updates.

And check the previous posts for more information about visits or contacts/gifts.

Again, thank you so much for your outpouring of love to Jenny.  We know that this means a lot to her.

The Room

A couple shots of Jenny's amazing room.  Thank you AM for sharing your extraordinary decorating skills!

Caring staff . . .
Technology . . .
And friends and loved ones . . .

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

On Saturday, November 6, Jenny was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  She had been feeling tired for about a month and then was hospitalized Friday at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia. 

She was scheduled to begin aggressive chemotherapy yesterday, but there was a delay getting the necessary echo cardiogram.  After "some words" with hospital staff, Jenny got the echo cardiogram and her chemotherapy was started today about noon, while I was talking to her on the phone.  She will receive treatments daily for about 10 days.  She has been told that she will stay in the hospital for about a month.

Jenny's ward fasted for her Sunday.  As our dear friend and Relief Society President, she was really missed.  It was amazing to see the outpouring of love and concern for Jenny from the entire ward.  So many asked if they could help in so many different ways and we have seen friends and colleagues from across the country show similar great love for Jenny.

A ward friend, AM, decorated her room with a rug, fall foliage, Christmas lights, silk flowers, and more.  It looks so great that hospital staff has been stopping by to check it out!

Today, Jenny feels pretty good.  She's "anxious" and doesn't "want her eggs to drop like flies" which she learned today will happen.  :(

She wants everyone to know that she is "so so so grateful for the love and support" that has been shown to her in so many ways!  Jenny, we love you and send our hugs and pray for your added strength!

A Message About How To Contact or Send Gifts

Please use this blog to send comments to Jenny.  You can also send her emails and posts on her facebook wall.

Cards, letters, and gifts can be sent to her home on Utah St, and her housemates will deliver it to the hospital.  They will be making daily runs.  Please do not send flowers or plants.  (If you need the address, please send an email to welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com.)

A method for making donations is being established, please stay tuned for more information.

Thank you again for such a wonderful outpouring of love and concern!!!  Jenny can truly feel your love.

A Message About Visits

For local visitors, please continue to coordinate requests to visit Jenny through SS.  (To contact SS, please send an email to welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com.)  Jenny's immune system is already compromised, and it will only get worse from here, so we must be vigilant in guarding against any exposure to any type of illness or other contaminant.  While greatly appreciated, the volume of visitors is emotionally and physically draining, so this process is meant to coordinate and distribute our efforts. 

When you do visit, please adhere to the following rules:
1.  All visitors must leave by 9:00 pm.
2.  All visits must be brief, preferable no more than 15-30 minutes.
3.  Groups should contain no more than 4 visitors.
4.  No children.
5.  No flowers or plants.
6.  No visitors with ANY chance whatsoever of being sick!

Thank you for your overwhelming outpouring of love and desire to help.  Jenny is so grateful for everyone's love and concern.

Also, if anyone wants to get something to Jenny, you can give it to one of Jenny's housemates, VJ, YY, or DS, and they will bring it to her.  One of them will be making a daily run to the hospital to bring her what she needs, so you can get your cards, books, artwork, etc. to her this way.  (If you would like the address, please email welovejennyreeder (at) gmail (dot) com.)