Nov. 25: Thankfulness. So much.

It was this week in November last year that we discovered OJ had taken up residence in a large part of my abdomen, that he was a total asshole, and that I have friends and family that are more amazing than I could have ever imagined. It seems fitting that I pay tribute to them now—because it’s Thanksgiving, of course, but it’s also the one-year anniversary(ish) of the beginning of this dreadful year.

It’s always dangerous listing individuals on a post like this, because it’s so easy to forget an important person. After this past year that was, in many ways, hellish, there are so many people I need to acknowledge. This is as public a forum as I can probably do it, until I can afford that billboard I’ve had my eye on.

Oh, and this comes with a warning: I’m probably totally gonna cry.

Alisa Gillett: Thank you for the surprises left at my door, singing Halloween cards (!), and most of all, accompanying me on chemo #12! It was great fun catching up, and I hope we can get together again soon. I’ve missed you so much.

Annalee Medici: With all you have going on in your own life, I appreciate you taking the time to send me notes here and there. They lift my spirits, that’s for sure! You’re an amazing friend.

April Jordan: Aw, my April-girl. How can I thank you enough for the Handerpants?! I love the Olympics mittens, too—wore them last week at Sunriver for the first “real” time—and all the other goodies you’ve brought me on your many visits. You know me so well. Your texts, messages on FB and email, and occasional phone chats make me laugh lots. Thanks for being there at chemo #5 and accompanying me to Bellingham last summer, as well as all the other things you do to make me love you. You rock, babe.

Aser & Kimberly Heye: I’m afraid I was not much more than a big ol’ bummer when I came to Kary’s memorial a few months ago, and I apologize for that. Still, you were both so kind to me, so concerned and caring, even with all you were going through that day. It was good to see you before your adventures in Ethiopia began. I read your blog regularly and love keeping up with what you’re all doing.

Barb DeJager: I’m so glad we re-connected this year!

Becky Curtis: You’ve been so good to me. I’m grateful for all the messages you’ve sent and I absolutely LOVE the green ribbon pendant you had made for me. Every time I wear it, or even look at it, I think of you—one of the kindest people I know.

Becky Long: Thanks bunches for the sweet comments and messages you’ve sent!

Carla Duncan: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the messages you’ve sent. They’re so heart-felt and kind, and I read them over and over. Thank you, Carla, for the positive energy you’ve sent my way.

Carol Cook: I love the expression that shows up on your face when I walk in your office unexpectedly! You’ve been so supportive and helpful throughout this process, and I’m glad to have you along. I am grateful for your insight as an RN, a patient, and a friend. You’re so good to me. Plus you sent us pizza. We like pizza. Open-mouthed smile

Cassie Donn: Silly girl! You make me laugh, and I love that. I’m especially thankful for the meals you’ve sent our way and the many times you’ve taken our kids for the night. I always know they’re having fun when they’re at your house. I can’t decide if you’re incredibly patient or incredibly insane. Either way, I’m keeping ya.

Chemo nurses Sandy and Candi: These ladies can’t possibly find their jobs fun, but they must find them rewarding because they’re AWESOME at what they do. Always smiling, quick to learn names and remember details about their patients, and very supportive of us all. I love these women, and yet I tell them often how I look forward to never seeing them again.

Cheri Graves: Your messages and comments are a treasure. I miss you.

Cherie Roth: Every time I see you, you’ve got a big hug ready. Thank you for the many ways you’ve been a support. I love having you as another big sis in my extended family.

Chris Paton: You make me laugh, and helped me decide early on that this cancer experience was something to be laughed at. How’m I doin’?

Christina Pearl: I remember sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with you and Scott last year, and things felt weird and uncertain because we were waiting for biopsy results that would come the next morning. It was nice when we talked about non-cancer/illness things, and we had such a good time spending the day with you, in spite of everything. Please thank Mambo for the pole-dancing pictures!

Cindi Edwards: My pal Cindi, someone who can take my mind off everything icky and make everything fun. Thank you! Rolling on the floor laughing

Corinne Smith: Ever since you suggested my tumor might be a hairball, I felt like you’ve been on my side—in a strange and silly way. I love it.

Cristina Castañeda: For all the times you have taken our kids for a day, fed them, and kept them otherwise occupied and cared for, we offer our sincerest thanks. We feel so fortunate to call you neighbors AND friends.

CT Techs at AMC: I’m sure you guys are just as good to all your patients, but I thank you anyway for being so thoughtful during all the procedures I’ve had in your department. I always feel so well cared for.

001Dan Kaempff: My goodness, few people make me laugh like you do! From the very beginning, I’ve felt like you’re on my side and that’s meant so much to me. Some of my most treasured and saved messages are yours. Oh, and the Yankee cap! I love it!

Dana Gronemyer: Someday we’ll meet in person, right? I hope so. Thank you for all the comments and messages you’ve sent, especially in the past year. You’ve encouraged me, boosted my mood, made me smile.

Darby & Dawn Shaw: Ah yes, some of my favorite meals last winter came from your house. YUM! Thanks also for putting up with our kids. You pretty much rock my world.

Darlene and Wellington Manullang: Where do I begin? You’re one pair we are so very grateful for, in all that you’ve helped us with—not just in the past year, but pretty much since the beginning of time! I’m glad you live nearby and are so willing to help out with the kids, feed us, and give us chances to get away from home once in a while. We love you.

Deanna Giubbini: Um, I still can’t believe you got our cousins to do this. I love you for it, and so much more!

Deanna Gutierrez (aka “The Other Deanna G”): You are lovely, and a dear friend. Thank you for being there for me. Let’s get together soon for a steaming cup of Postum, okay? Sick smile

Debi Nelson: I’m so glad I had the chance to see you and Deanna last spring. Let’s not go so long between visits again, mmkay? I have missed you. Thank you for the gorgeous hat—I’m totally wearing it even when I don’t need to anymore.

Dina Cyphers: Thanks, Dina, for coordinating all the meals brought to our family when I started chemo. I’m glad I felt good enough to eat most of them, too, because we have some chef-like friends! I also appreciate the times you covered for me on PTO doodies—you are a lifesaver, in so many ways. Oh, and shame on you for getting me all warm and happy last June! (I have to act like I didn’t enjoy every second of it or someone might think I’m a drunk.) Winking smile

Don & Linda Felkley: While I don’t like the way we reconnected this last year, I’m so glad that we did! I loved being able to sit down with you for a little while this past spring, too—what a treat! Thank you so much for your kind messages and prayers. Thank you, also, for giving me Kim. I kinda like her lots and lots.

Ed Reilly: This year has been just like previous ones, in that I’ve hardly seen you. It makes me treasure the times we do finally work it out to get together even more, and you’re still one of my favorite people ever. I love the comments you leave on my blog—don’t ever change. Thumbs up

Emily Ratty: Thank you for the pole-dancing Pop Rocks photo!

Erin McGovney: I love that you were my chemo buddy for #10. You make getting poisoned fun!

Heather Yarnell: It’s nice to have someone on my side who is as committed to PTO as I am, and I thank you for being willing to help me out when things feel overwhelming.

Ione Brunt: I so appreciate the kindness you’ve shown me.

Jack Manullang: My buddy boy, thank you for being so patient with Mom. I hate that you’ve had to go through all of this, but you’re very brave and you made me laugh when I was feeling yucky, so I’m kinda glad you’ve been there for me. I love you with all my heart. I promise, sweetie, that we’ll go on a No More Cancer cruise or some other type of fun family vacation when this is all over. I promise.

Jay Johns: Another way Facebook has been so delightful is because it helped us reconnect! It was great to see you last month—it had been WAY too long. (P.S. There is no deal.)

Jen E (aka “mommablogsalot”): Thank you, Jen, for your comments and emails. It’s such a treat to have you on my side!

Jennifer Kuhlmann: You brought us dinners and we love you for it. I also think you kinda rock big-time. Party smile

Jenny McNassar: I’m so glad you encouraged me to participate in the Relay for Life last summer. I never would have done it otherwise, and it was such a neat, meaningful experience—one I’ll never forget. Thank you for your uplifting and positive messages. As a cancer survivor, I look to you as one of my heroes.

Jill DoddsJill Dodds: You were the first to send me a cancer-fighting pole-dancing photo. Thank you!

JoAnn Wiggins: I so enjoyed our phone chat a few months back. Thanks for your concern and encouragement. And while I know you didn’t play a major part in his work, I am so glad for your cousin, who helped me along the path to a diagnosis. Dr. Rheumy is my lifesaver, quite literally.

Julie Harvey: One of my PTO peeps—thank you for your help where I fall short, and for being one of my everyday reminders that life goes on. There are things to do! Kids to reward! Teachers to appreciate!

Kari Olson: It’s an odd bond to have, going through cancer treatment at the same time. I have appreciated the shared quotes and links that give us hope and remind us what we have waiting for us when the cancer is gone—soooo much!

Katie (Gaede) Duran: I’ve loved seeing you (occasionally) at work and comparing notes about all kinds of cancer-related things. But mostly, it’s just fun when I get to see you at work. Smile

Katie Manullang: My sweet girl, I know you’re worried and sometimes scared to witness all the crap that’s being done to me to get rid of this cancer. Seeing your sweet smile and getting a tender hug from you makes all the difference. It reminds me why I continue to fight this invasion—because I love you. You’re my best girl, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I see you grow up to have a high-maintenance daughter of your own. Ha!

Kim Nelson (aka “Kim F’n”): I don’t know where to begin with you, Kimmeh. You were there from the very moment I got the phone call, to shopping for wigs, to being my chemo buddy (#3 and #11), to meeting for lunches with our friends or on our own. Our friendship has gone so many places we never dreamed. I thank you for your constant support, for helping me laugh, for always knowing the right thing to say. You’re the best. Really.

Lafe & Rebecca Bissell: You are good people, and I thank you for showing me such kindness.

Larry Brunt: Wow—you’ve done more than you could ever know. The pictures you took for me are something I will always treasure. In this whole experience, that day at Laurelhurst Park was one of my least horrible days. Winking smile I also appreciate the continued support you’ve given me in the way of messages and comments. You are a true friend, and I’m grateful that Facebook brought us back together.

Laura Loveland: Your comments on FB and my blog always make me smile. The snark! I love the snark!

Laura Tarter (aka “Hawaii Laura”): Thank you for all the goodies you’ve sent, and especially for the handmade bag with secret messages stitched into the lining! I show it to everyone I see because I think it’s such a beautiful and meaningful gift. I really, really, really hope I get to visit you someday soon.

Leon & Elaine Reisinger: Thank you for all the ways you’ve helped out my mom when she’s left town to spend time with me. Whether it’s taking care of Gilly to seeing to things around her house, I appreciate the way you’ve indirectly helped me too!

Linda Mackett: You’ve sent me such kind cards, and they lift my spirits.

Lisa Nicholson: Lisa, Lisa, Lisa! You were one of my companions for chemo #5, and I loved having you there even though it involved much poison. Thank you for all your efforts to be with me that day—I know it wasn’t easy. We’ve got to get together again soon.

Lisa Schroeder: It’s been such a treat to reconnect with you, especially in the past year. Thanks for writing books for me to read when I’m feeling bed-bound. Thanks for writing a book that’s made my daughter the happiest bookworm, like, EVER. Most of all, thank you for the emails and comments that make me smile.

Lori Hall (aka “Fancy Lori™”): Between the way-yummy meals you provided, to having my back at PTO events that were a bit much for me, to all the simple ways you’ve shown me your fancy friendship, I thank you. I love the ways you always make me laugh. I love the hair-hat you knitted for me. I love the regular hat you knitted for me. And I’m forever keeping my fingers crossed that someday we’ll be grandmothers to the same kids. You’re the funnest!

Lori Lassen (aka “Loveliest Lori”): I love having you as my cheerleader. Thank you for going wig shopping with me, for being the first friend to accompany me at chemo, for all the texts, emails, gifts, and visits. I’m not sure I could have gotten through some days without your positive thoughts. Now that you’re dealing with a serious health issue of your own, I hope I can offer you even a fraction of the support you’ve given me. I love you.

Lori Reisinger: Thank you for all you’ve done for my mom when she’s been away from home. You’re so thoughtful.

Lorie Ramey: It’s good to see a friendly smile when I show up at work. Thank you for the ways you encourage me, and all the nice things you say and do—I love that you’re always so positive.

Margaret Abdelfadi: You always have the sweetest things to say, Margaret, and I so appreciate your care and thoughtfulness. It was nice to see a friendly face before my port placement surgery—thanks for stopping by. You’re someone I always want on my side.

Mark-Antonio Grant: It was so nice to meet you in person at the Relay for Life, but I also want you to know how much your messages have meant to me, as well as the quotes you share on Facebook. From someone who has experienced the evil of cancer firsthand, I value the things you have to share. You’re a wise man, not to mention kind and caring. And tall. I like the tall. Smile

Megan Johnson: Seems like whenever I run into you at school, you have something complimentary to say. You’re so thoughtful! Thank you for your care and kindness.

Michelle Lagos: You gave me my pre-chemo haircut and made the transition a little easier. You also made me look like a normal person when I had my baldie pictures done. I can hardly wait until I get to see you every couple months for “real” haircuts again—soon, I think! Until then, our Facebook exchanges are oodles of fun. You’re a bright spot in my life.

Mickey Cole: I love your cheery comments—thank you!

Jen, Mike, KimMike Devitt: Two of my favorite moments of the past year include you. There have been your thoughtful emails and comments, of course, but the Christmas Eve lunch and then The May Visit—those were the best. Remember when I almost ran us off I-205? And when you bought porn at Borders? And when Kim told us that appetite-ending paramedic story? And when you stole those Haitian kids and kept them in your basement with Mormons? Ah, (fuzzy) memories. There’s no use in trying to get the facts straight; filling in the blanks with new details are the best part. Anyway, thanks for being such a good friend for these many, many years.

Mom: Talk about knowing exactly what to do and when! You were at my very first chemo, and came to #13 too. But most importantly, you’ve been there at every second of every moment when I’ve needed you, which has been especially important this past year. Thank you for being so flexible in your help with the kids, the house, the pets, and everything else. You might just be the best mom ever. I love you. I’m gonna irritate the hell out of you for years to come, I promise. Just remember, it’ll be done in the most loving way I know how. Angel

Nelda Russell: You’re so great about sending me sweet emails exactly when I need them—are you magic? I’m glad we reconnected when you showed up in one of my classes 11 years ago because I love having you in my life again, especially now—a voice of experience and surviving. Thank you.

Pat Knudson: I love that you visited me during chemo #5 and chemo #17!

Paul Jenny & Claire Cross: I’m glad I get to spend today with you! Allow me to apologize in advance for the dogs and my drunkenness. Mom’s too. I blame Grandma. Winking smile

Raylene Feather: Thank you for all your positive thoughts, prayers, and sweet messages.

Rob & Trudy Whittaker: Seems like every time I run into you guys outside, you ask how I’m doing. Thank you. And Rob, thank you for the baldness advice when I needed it. You know of what you speak.

Sally Rehling: I love, love, love that I’ve got you in my corner.

Sheila Rothstein: I know it took a lot of effort for you to be my chemo buddy for #16, and I’m honored that you thought I was worth it. Since the very beginning, you’ve been a positive force in my fight, and I thank you for all the ways you’ve helped me through some of the tougher times. I kinda like you. Kinda a lot.

Shelby Martin: You haven’t been part of the PTO long enough to have to cover for me on my icky days, but I’m sure that time will come, and I’m sure you’ll do it willingly because that’s the kind of gal you are. I look forward to getting to know you better in the coming years. You rock, Betty! Open-mouthed smile

Sherilee Coffey: Oh, babe. You’ve provided me with so much love and laughter and I can’t thank you enough. I really can’t. But I shall try anyway, because I’m always up for a challenge. Ha. Seriously, your frequent texts and emails, and our infrequent phone calls, are a tremendous boost for me, every time, no matter what the topic. I love that our conversations have gone from being all-cancer-all-the-time to covering so many other parts of life. I love that you were my companion for chemo #7. I love that you’ve made the trek from Walla Walla several times to spend the day with me. I love YOU.

Shevaun Garrison: I remember when you read about my diagnosis on Facebook and you insisted I call you ASAP and you slept with your phone to make sure you didn’t miss my call and I think when we finally talked it was 2 a.m. where you were and I thought you were a little crazy but mostly in a good way. I hate that we’re both members of this GD cancer club, but I’ve appreciated your advice and comments along the way. X to the O, babe.

Sonya Nienhuis: I love knowing that on the other side of the world, someone cares about me. Thanks for being that person.

Stephanie Archibald: It’s not just the sweet messages you send. It’s not just the surprise gifts you leave at my front door. It’s not just the delicious meals you’ve brought. It’s not just the fact that we’re totally practically related not really but kind of. It’s all of those things, as well as your smiles and the ways you make me laugh. Thank you for being a true friend, Stephanie!

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Sunshine Buzo: Oh, sweet girl. You’re one of the wonderfulest, for realsies. (Fancy Lori’s head just a-sploded, huh?) You’ve been my chemo buddy twice—for #4 and #17—and you’ve given me all that everyday, all-the-time awesome friend support that I so appreciate, too. Are you perfect, or what? I cannot possibly thank you for everything you’ve done, starting with your visit minutes after I got the news last November. I love that you make me smile all the time, even when you’re totally pissed off. You’re funny when you’re pissed off. I love you, my Sunshine girl. Sun

Ted Manullang: I’m grateful to be in your family, Ted, and I thank you for your (mostly) kind words, positive thoughts, and prayers. Mostly, I think I’m glad you don’t hold this against me. I look forward to seeing you and the kids in a few weeks.

Terri O’Neill: Your hugs, your texts, your little songs… you always make me smile. I’m lucky to work with someone who has been such a positive presence during many less-than-positive moments. You’re fab, babe!

Theresa Wellman: Another PTO peep, I gotta thank you for all the ways you’ve helped cover my difficult days at our PTO events. You’re a sweetheart!

The Rouge boys: You guys made my rockstar chemo the rockstar-iest.

StephenJack and Adam

Tina Maciokas: Thank you for the dinners you’ve provided, and the school transportation you’ve provided, and the laughs/smiles you’ve provided. I love that you always have positive things to say and am glad that you live right next door to me!

Valerie Fukai: We hit it off right away, didn’t we? I enjoy you so much, Val, and I’m thankful for your amazing friendship. Thanks for hangin’ with me for chemo #15, and for making me laugh and laugh every time we’re together. I hope that one Week o’ Val wasn’t my last! I think you’re rockin’ awesome. No. No, that’s not true. I know you’re rockin’ awesome! Red heart  xoxo

Victor Manullang: I’m grateful for your patience and love, and I kinda like when you bring me coffee in the mornings too. What we’ve gone through in the past year totally sucks, but I’ve never felt alone, and I thank you for being with me every step of the way. I love you bunches for so many reasons. Of all my husbands, you’re my favorite one (so far). Smooches.

Wendy Wilson: One of my PTO peeps, and a new friend—I’m grateful for you! I have a great time when we get together, and look forward to a long friendship ahead.



I know I’ve forgotten people that should be in this list. Let me say that there are many of you who have sent encouraging messages, cards, and the most positive of thoughts, and I am incredibly grateful for all you’ve done. It could not be more obvious to me:

Have a good one, whatever way you’re celebrating today.


  1. Eep! Can't believe I made the (awfully long) list! You are truly blessed with some wonderful friends and family, that's for sure! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Do I have to make a list like this a year from August 20th? Oy! Makes me happy to see how many people are on your list and supporting you. We're blessed, huh?


  3. You are such an inspiration, Jen. What a thoughtful post. I'm honored to be your friend. I remember our visit almost exactly one year ago, and all that has transpired since... can't wait til you're flipping cancer off in the rearview mirror, baby. xo

  4. Wow, Jen. You are one lucky girl. And we are lucky to know you. I don't even KNOW as many people as you have on your 'short list'. Yikes! Think back to a year ago, would you ever have guessed you would be publishing a list like this? Actually, yeah, you probably could have. When you look at it, this list has absolutely nothing to do with cancer; even absent OJ, you could have compiled this same group. Cancer doesn't help you make friends, it just makes you (more) appreciate the ones you got. Thanks for including me--and I didn't even wear underwear on my chest!

  5. Your dad and I must have done good.... We're proud of you! Love you sooooo much!!

  6. Wow. I'm totally impressed with that post. I would have been a crying heaping mess with just the first person. In fact, I was a crying heaping mess just reading it. What a journey this year has been for you and your family. I'm proud just to say I know you!

  7. Wow. I'm totally impressed with that post. I would have been a crying heaping mess with just the first person. In fact, I was a crying heaping mess just reading it. What a journey this year has been for you and your family. I'm proud just to say I know you!


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