Jan. 31: Month in review

january January 2014 is almost over. I’m kinda glad.

I’m also glad that today is Friday, because we all need a little Ponch now and then, right?


You’re welcome, Fancy Lori™. I know you like the Ponch pic. ;)

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • New Year’s Day was celebrated in high style here at the House of Manullang. Three of the four of us were sick and napped throughout the entire day. Wheeeee. We’re the funnest.
  • Jenn K’s birthday! We went to a wine bar, where I tasted a wine I actually like. I took a picture of the label so I can look for it in stores—so far, no luck. Figures. Time to place a special order, and I don’t even know how or where to do that because I’m so wine-stupid. After the wine bar we checked out a new local place, Valley Growlers. Big thumbs up for their fab selections! I think Jenn K had a good birthday, but none of us really remembers for sure, including her.
  • I went to a baby shower for Erin, my niece. So fun to celebrate a new baby, even though he made me a great-aunt and that makes me old. More on Baby below.
  • There was a celebration in our family when the Seahawks won the NFC championship, and there will be more celebration this weekend when they compete in the Super Bowl. As I am neither a Seahawks fan nor a Seahawks hater, I was not a celebrator nor a throw-things-at-the-wall-er (Loveliest Lori, I’m looking at you…). It sure is nice to have such happy boys in the house though. I also like seeing happy Seahawks-adjacent Facebook posts from happy Kim F’n, happy Melodie, happy Jordan family, happy every Manullang/Nienhuis, and happy neighbors. Happy is good.

I saw things with my eyes:

  • Downton Abbey and Sherlock have started up again on PBS, and that makes for some happy Sunday nights here. The If-Downton-Abbey-Took-Place-Entirely-On-Facebook summaries that appear the next day at this site are priceless.
  • I watched, for the first time, Mommie Dearest. Wow, I say, both for Joan Crawford’s awfulness and Faye Dunaway’s ridiculous over-acting. Still, it was oddly entertaining. One of the best things about Amazon Instant Video is having access to lots of movies (mostly trash) that I’ve never gotten around to watching.
  • Last year I watched (and kinda loved) the documentary Grey Gardens, and this month I finally saw the Jessica Lange-Drew Barrymore movie version of it. Both were fascinating in that train-wreck/I-can’t-look-away way.
  • Who needs to wait for the DVD release of Frozen, like a sucka? It’s online! Bootleg video, anyone?
  • Armistead Maupin’s final tale from his Tales of the City series was published last week, and he was at Powell’s the other night for a reading and signing. He was as entertaining as always—I love that man. I’m thinking about re-reading the first eight books before I start the new one, just to experience the whole series in one great big delicious bite.
  • I read Amy Tan’s latest novel, The Valley of Amazement. It contained a bit more detail about life as a courtesan than I really needed to know, but was beautifully written, as her books always are.
  • I’m not entirely sold on e-books; I like holding actual books in my hands, turning pages, the eyestrain, all that. However, if a book is interesting enough, I’ll attempt to read it on my iPad. I just finished When You were Older, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The story is set in the months following 9/11; I thought the author did a good job capturing the emotions of that tense time. (Someday I hope NOT to associate certain books with whether or not I read them on my Kindle app, but this was the second I’ve read start-to-finish.)

This month’s good and bad:

  • NEW BABY NEW BABY NEW BABY NEW BABY!!! Erin & Kevin’s son was born four weeks early, but he’s doing well. I met him when he was two days old, and OMG, I forgot how lovely it is to hold someone else’s newborn! What a little sweetheart. Picture proof:

Baby Max (with Erin’s piggies in the background)

I love this pic of a very tired Erin and her sweet boy
(Totally stole it off their blog, but with permission)

  • Debi visited! We need to see each other more than once a year. Boo.
  • I opened an Etsy store and am going to sell my gemstone jewelry creations. I’ve been beading like a madwoman—it’s a very fun creative outlet. I’ll post the store info here when it’s all ready for shopping and sharing with your friends. I feel like I’ve been asking a lot of favors lately, so I apologize in advance for yet another.
  • There aren’t enough creative new ways to use four-letter words that convey our frustration with the results of my PET scan. The cancer is back. I have a biopsy next week, and will meet with the oncologist soon after to decide on our next course of action. I’ll do my best NOT to turn Stuff Jen Says back into an all-cancer-all-the-time blog, but will also try to share news as it happens.
  • And while I’m on the topic, I’d like some credit for not using more of those four-letter words on my blog. They sure come out of my mouth more than they end up here. Somebody praise me for my restraint RIGHT NOW.

I likes to share the silly stuff:












Time to enjoy some February. You should do it too. Laterz.


Jan. 27: Cancer super-sucks.

bulldogskirt Last week I had a PET scan as follow-up to my CT in July, which had shown a few enlarged lymph nodes. Cancer shows up bright on PET scans, and there were several bright spots on this one: three in my groin and one in my throat. There are clusters of lymph nodes in both those areas, so the fact that the bright spots showed up where they did is not so concerning as the fact that bright spots showed up at all.


The radiologist’s report on the PET scan was hard to decipher, and even though Victor was able to talk to him about it, there was uncertainty as to how the oncologist would interpret the results. I was eager to get in to see her this morning. Here’s what I found out:

  • She thought it was weird that there’s a spot in my throat, nothing in my chest or abdomen, and then more spots in my groin. She seemed to think that the spot in my throat could be just an enlarged node from having a cold. That would be pretty great, if that’s all it is. I don’t know why it would’ve shown up bright on a PET scan if it’s not cancer, but all I know about PET scans is what my oncologist has told me. It’s possible she leaves out details sometimes. One time she spent 20 minutes (of an unimportant checkup) telling Val, my chemo buddy, about a really cool wine bottle opener she just bought.
  • She wants to have the spot on my throat biopsied by a specialist. The area is relatively easy to access, and if it’s cancerous, it will help her determine the course of treatment. If it’s not cancerous, it will move the focus to my nether regions (heeheehee), which means…
  • The nodes in my groin-al region are deep and therefore harder to biopsy, but if the throat thing is nothing, she wants to biopsy the other. That will suck. So it’s not like I WANT the thing in my throat to be cancerous, but I soooo hate the idea of a needle biospy on my nethers.
  • The spots are each approximately one inch wide (“relatively small”). Dr. O says this is good because we have time to figure out how best to handle treatment, and also it gives her time to go on the vacation she’s scheduled for this week.
  • It’s possible the new spots are follicular lymphoma, rather than the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma I was diagnosed with in 2009. Follicular lymphoma is quite a different beast; it’s something that doesn’t exactly go into remission, but is treated occasionally throughout a person’s life. I haven’t done any research yet, and I don’t want to until we get more test results. If that sounds ignorant to you, think of it this way: you know how it feels to check out a simple symptom on WebMD in the middle of the night, only to find that every possible cause is something that will kill you? Now imagine that that’s actually true. THAT is why I have no interest in researching a type of cancer I do not definitely have. That kind of anxiety does no good.
  • Treatment possibilities include a bone marrow transplant and something to do with stem cells. Those options, I assume, are in addition to more standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, although I honestly don’t know. Again with the ignorance!
  • One of the new standards of cancer care is a pneumonia vaccine. I got the first part of it today. I’ll get the second part in 56 days. Not 55. Not 57. FIF. TEE. SIX.
  • She made me get a flu shot. I am very anti-flu shots, not because I think they’re part of a government conspiracy or because I think they’ll make me sick, but because I think flu shots do absolutely NOTHING to keep a person from getting the flu. Victor gets the shots every year (all hospital employees are required) and still gets makes-me-want-to-kill-him sick every winter. And YES, I know that one flu shot can’t possibly protect a person from every strain of the flu, but what’s the point then? Unless you’re 1,000 years old, WHAT IS THE FRIGGIN’ POINT?
  • They took a gallon of my blood to test a vajillion things. (Did you know recurrent cancer causes a person to exaggerate wildly? I just found out!)
  • If you’re counting, that’s three new holes in my body in one day. If I drink water, I’ll be like one of those wacky sprinklers that kids think are hilarious for five seconds.

Sooo… what happens now?

I’m waiting for the ENT to tell me when I can get in for a biopsy. That’s our next course of action, and there’s nothing else to do until we get the results.

And how does all this make me feel?

  • Angry at cancer. It is such an asshole. You know this.
  • Tired of doctors and tests and shots and scans and medical terminology. This is possibly a carryover from 2009.
  • Frustrated at the idea that I have to start the fight all over again.
  • Afraid that this fight could be even harder.
  • Vain. Am I going to lose my hair again? Will I get even fatter?
  • Confident in Dr. O’s methods. She’s flighty at times, but truly brilliant. I trust her completely.
  • Eager to get started with whatever needs to be done so it can be over with ASAP.

I’m putting on my poodle bulldog skirt and preparing to kick cancer’s big, fat, ugly ass AGAIN. I’d love to have your help.


Jan. 2: TBT – Ugly Boy

This might be my first-ever Throwback Thursday post. I tend to throw back whenever I feel like instead of waiting for a Thursday.

Let me preface my post by saying that we thought Katie was pretty from her first moments, and were thrilled to discover that she was very photogenic. I mean, even her not-very-good pictures weren’t awful. I think she gets it from her Auntie Sonya, which is why I sometimes don’t like Auntie Sonya.

I wrote the other day that if I could find Jack’s ugly baby picture I would post it. It took me forever to track it down because it wasn’t digital. In fact, this picture was the reason we bought a digital camera—The Boy was ten times whatever the opposite of photogenic is. I finally found the horrific thing in a scrapbook and snapped a photo of it with my phone, which promptly broke itself in half.

So, here it is—and I present it with a warning: looking directly at this photo has been known to cause nausea and vomiting. I’ll give you some scrolling room so you can back out now if you need to.

Jack, six weeks old, on Christmas Day 2001:


I’m right, aren’t I? Ugliest baby EVER. What you can’t really see in this picture is just how big his ‘fro is, which, believe it or not, makes him look even more like he should live under a bridge. Fortunately, Jack gradually cutened up and we were able to take him out of the house without fear of being chased back by a pitchfork-wielding mob. Here he is at five months old:


And here’s our bird-flippin’ boy at one year—no need to ask why this is our favorite of Jack’s milestone portraits:


I can’t resist sharing one of my other favorite Jack pics, an outtake from my attempt at something cutesy for our 2004 Christmas cards:


We love that kid. He’s weird, but we love him.



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