What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Jen McManus.

that's what she said new

I
rock the stay-at-home thing. Love my kiddos, 3 who came the natural way
and 2 foster babies that were reunited with biological family.. I love
to work out, play outside, eat horrible food, talk, laugh, and watch
sports. I’m a horrible cook and suck at decorating, but I can clean
anything and love to do it. I love my Savior who gives me hope to live
each day in a way that I hopes shows everyone around me that He loves
them and so do I. Everyday I strive to learn more about my Jesus, love
others, fight for the orphan, “go” to the nations, and make people
smile.

A year. A year fighting a
disease that is trying to kill me. A year not giving up and pushing
through. A year of blessing and beauty. A year of pain and sorrow. A
year with chemo…..

A year of faith. I have watched God create a
beautiful story with my life and this cancer battle. It is filled with
ups and downs. Tears and smiles. And in it all joy! I believe in the
power of the gospel. I believed that my soul has been saved. I believe
that even if this is my last day on this earth, God is good.

A
year of pain. Chemotherapy is a poison. And we knew that. We knew that
this year would be hard on my body, mind, and spirit. We also knew that
chemotherapy was the best chance I had to live. The cancer I have is a
sneaky one. Stage 3 melanoma has a 80% reoccurrence. It kills quickly
and doesn’t respond to most treatments. My cancer had already begun to
spread in my lymph nodes so we had to act quickly and aggressively. My
body hurts. Daily fevers that spike to 103-105 degrees, painful
headaches from swelling, nausea and puking, and weakness. But I can do
it. I can keep fighting. With the help of prayers, support, and love
from my family and friends I can fight through the pain.

A year
pushing myself physically. I know crazy, right? But I don’t want God to
just destroy this cancer in my body, but I want to to be annihilated. I
was a workout freak long before cancer, so it seemed fitting that I was
going to work as hard as I could to fight cancer physically. So I have
dragged my sick, broken, painful body to the gym at least 3 times a week
ever since I started chemotherapy. Some weeks it didn’t happen, but I
would say for 90% of the time this year I have. It feels good knowing
that I am doing everything I can physically to fight this monster. I
enjoy the feeling of pushing my body. I love the time I have where I
don’t have to think about cancer. I need it. Now don’t get me wrong. I
am not strong right now. I am slow, tired, weak, but I am there.
Running, lifting, cycling, and doing bootcamp. And in October just 3
months after taking a break from chemotherapy I am riding 100 miles in
one day for the Livestrong Challenge.

A year of tears. I don’t
cry often and because of the weird medications I take I really don’t cry
often. But I do cry. Late at night when everyone is sleeping I find my
tears. Tears that are filled with fear and uncertainty. I want to grow
old with my husband. I want…no have…to see my kids grow up. I want
to share the story God is telling in my life. I want life on the this
earth no matter how ugly is seems sometimes. I know that heaven awaits
me and that I won’t look back when I am finally in the arms of my
Savior. But I still weep for this body. But every tear that falls I know
that Jesus is there crying every one with me. Jesus knew what I am
feeling. He suffered. He wept. And I love that He can comfort me,
because He knows.

A year being a horrible Mom and wife. This one
hurts my heart to write. Because my husband and kids are the world to
me. But unfortunately they have been hurt by this bitch cancer too.
Before cancer I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t a good enough wife
and mother. I felt inadequate. My house could not be clean enough, I
should make love to my husband more often, we should be eating gourmet
meals, I should be crafting, and my children should be well behaved,
smart, loving, and obedient. God was already working on my heart with
this issue before cancer. I bought the lie that Satan had whispered into
my heart for years. That if I could just be prettier, more liked by
others, a perfect wife, a beyond perfect Mom, and a good person then
what? Life would be perfect? What a lie! And what a day when I watched
that lie fall apart. I got cancer. This year I have had to fight all
those feelings. I haven’t been a great wife this year. No worries
because my husband is awesome, but I have had to lay down the hurt that I
feel when I am not as good as I want to be. I have had to watch my
husband love me not because I look good in lingerie or laughed at his
jokes. I have had to give myself a break as a Mom. Cutting myself some
slack on the days when my kids watch more TV then I planned or eat
another meal of soup and cheese and crackers or ride their razor
scooters in the house, because I am too tired to go outside and watch
them play. Instead I am thankful for each day. Even the ones where I
feel like I did everything wrong. I am joyful even when I don’t feel
like I was “good” enough. I might not have enough days to waste them
trying to be a better version of Jen. I am beautiful, good enough to be
loved, a perfect Mom, and deserve to feel that way everyday. Thanks
cancer for helping me learn this lesson.

A year of miracles. It
was a small miracle that my doctor found the tumor growing in my leg. I
wasn’t sick or tired or anything. I was actually is some pretty awesome
shape and feeling great. I was training for my second triathlon and was
looking forward to killing it on the course. 2 weeks before the race I
went in to get some ance that was popping up on my face looked at. My
doctor found the tumor and weeks later I was lying in a surgical room. A
miracle. It’s a miracle that my kids are this young. They don’t know
what cancer is, they don’t worry or know that Mom could die. (my oldest
has begun to ask questions, but nothing too serious) This is a miracle,
because every Mom knows that battling my kids fears would be the hardest
for me to watch. I am pretty sure my baby doesn’t even remember me with
my long beautiful hair. A miracle. My husband is my own, special little
miracle. For over 365 days he has written me letters. A miracle that I
needed EVERY day! (http://letterstojen.com/) God has put numerous people
in my life that is in or has someone they love in a battle with cancer.
And I have been able to be apart of hearing, responding, and praying
for them. A miracle.

A year falling short. I am not strong. I am
weak. I have not fought this fight perfectly. And I truly believe that
everyone reading this would fight it the same way if not better. But it
would crush me if people began to believe that I am strong. That I am
fighting this fight so well. Because I AM NOT. Let me repeat myself,
this is NOT ME. The strength people see is my God. The beauty you see in
my story is that of the gospel. The glory goes to the Truth. He is the
strong one. He is the one beating cancer. He is the one who already
defeated the cancer in me. The cancer that was sin. I pray that at the
end of my life people see God’s story and His glory shining in the end. I
trust that His plan is perfect. And that no matter what God wins.

A
year serving others. It would have been easy for us to just hunker down
for the year. To not worry about the children waiting for a family, to
ignore the clean water kids and adults deserve to drink, and to not
concern ourselves with any one else’s problems. But that is not our
family and that is not me. Even in the midst of stress, struggle, and
financial burdens we made a decision to keep loving and serving others.
When I was diagnosed with cancer we were fostering a little baby girl.
She had had a rough 4 months of life and was thriving with our family.
We were given the choice to move her or keep fostering her for as long
as we could. We prayed and decided to keep fostering believing that God
had a perfect plan. 3 weeks before we started chemo a distant relative
completed a home study and she was placed with biological family. People
thought we were crazy, but we did not want to give up on our little
girl just because times were hard. We also hosted 2 Garage Sale for
Orphans during the year, raising money with Help One Now
(http://www.helponenow.com/). The financial burden is hard and has taken
it’s toll on our family, but we felt like we could still help others.
It would have been so easy to put the money we made toward our medical
bills, but watching the video and seeing the pictures of the little kids
playing on a playground we helped fund in Haiti was priceless. We
continued to teach and mentor couples in pre marital counseling and
newlywed classes again trusting that God had a bigger story to share
with others. It was difficult, I am not going to lie. But I want my
faith to be more than just empty words for as long as I am here. God’s
love is big enough for me to never NOT share it with others.

Soon
I will start a new chapter in this cancer journey. I will stop
chemotherapy after a long year. And we will begin to let my body rest.
In October we will have a big CT/PET scan to see if there is any more
cancer growing. God is not done with this story. I pray that this post
brought someone comfort, love, understanding, hope, and maybe a smile or
too.

*If you feel
led to help us financially we have a fundraiser to help with medical bills. You get an awesome T-shirt and will help us before the big
Livestrong Challenge in October.