Jen Ballantyne

Jen Ballantyne is a courageous blogger.  After years of treatment and remission, her bowel cancer has returned, and surgery to remove the cancer is easier said than done.  She is facing a very difficult time in her life, the time when there may simply be just pallative care ahead of her, and that is not easy to face when you have young children. 

I know.  Oh, do I know, Jen. 

Today, Jen Lemen asked us to go over and say hi to Jen Ballantyne, and I did, and it turns out she’s asking a question similar to the one that I asked you all last year:  What would you do if you knew you only had a few months to live?

Her friend Meg wrote a wonderful post in answer, and other women have left comments for her on the topic.  It’s a hard topic, I know, and you’re probably all worn out from caring for me, and I can’t thank you enough.  But I’ve had such a hard time thinking and writing and seeing past the pain and horror of my surgery that I think I needed to meet Jen B today, to offer her words of comfort and of courage, and to share with her my answer to her question.  Now I share it with you:

… one answer kept floating to the top:  Love my children. Play with my children. Whisper in their ears how very much Mama loves them, and teach them to read books and explore their world and make friendships. Teach them to treasure the important things in life, so that they will always know the answer to this question. For me, the answer lay in loving my children as much as I could, and in helping them find other interests that would help them transcend their loss.

This I know.  This I must remember.  For this, and possibly this alone, will help me to get out of bed again tomorrow and face another day of pain and yet also of healing.

14 Responses to Jen Ballantyne

  1. Beautiful, Whymommy.


    xoxo CGF

  2. amanda says:

    You humble me again and again, but you also make me grow and live deeper.

    I adore you.

  3. Angela says:

    God this was gorgeous.

  4. all I can say is wow. What a powerful response that brings tears to my eyes…yet again! THANK YOU!!!

  5. MammaLoves says:

    Oh Susan, yes!!!

    Your blogging about your own experience reminds me of this especially in those moments when they’re trying my patience the most.

  6. Meg says:

    This is beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your list. I look forward to reading more.

  7. Crying in my keyboard now. Beautifully said, as usual. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and to Jen B.


  8. Linda Lawrence says:

    Dear Niece,
    At 60, I would say the same: love my children, play with my children, love my husband… I only would need to add grandchildren to the list. You are always reminding me that every day should be lived to the full because we never know. Thank you. Therefore, I will quit writing and teach my math students what is really important . . . Today it is related rates. Hmm, things are always changing at different rates . . . How can I apply that to life.

    Love ya,
    Aunt Linda

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. isabel says:

    thank-you for your comment on my blog, allowing me to come know you here.
    Your story is a powerful one. I am honored to bear witness to these parts you share here.
    I would like to email you. Is there a way I could get your email address?
    love to you.

  10. whymommy says:

    Bella, Sure! Just use the name of my blog at gmail d.ot com, and that should work! I was delighted to meet you too — your post today blew me away, and I’m linking to you in my post tomorrow.

  11. okayfinedammit says:

    This post literally just made me turn to my kid and tell her how cool I thought she was and how much I love the beets out of her.

    For that, I thank you.

  12. Dear Whymommy, what a beautiful post and answer to ‘the’ question. I love that last part of your answer “Loving them as much as I could and helping them find other interests to transcend their loss…”, I too will get out of bed tomorrow and face another day of pain, and hopefully some healing because of the strength of love for my sons – I haven’t started any treatment yet, although anything we do now is only palliative and I must seriously consider whether it is worth having treatment that will make me ill and more radiation which does not do good things to me especially since I have already had so much. It may be my choice to not have such ugly treatment when I cannot survive this anyway according to all the medical folk, perhaps just go and have fun and enjoy and make my medicine the organic foods and herbs and health improving options. I don’t want to waste any time I may have left with my son with feeling ill from chemo. However, I will wait until I have talked with Doctors and weigh up my options. The reason they want to treat me some more is to stop the chronic pain I am in and have been suffering for more than 8 months. This I do need to take into consideration as my quality of time with Jack will be considerably less if I cannot get this pain under control. Anyway dear whymommy I didn’t mean to come here and talk so much, please excuse me but I am still in a spin and coming to terms with this outcome. Thank you once again so much, I am amazed at your wonderful support and in the past few days I have felt what that kind of support and love online is like. My blog has also been inundated with wonderful, loving bloggers supporting me and sending love and prayers my way and just carrying me along, I know a lot of them came to me from you and I truly thank you for that and them for taking the time to come over to me, they are truly generous souls to make time for me as well as being here for you. Amazing! Take care Whymommy, you are doing a remarkable job and I will be over more often. Hugs and love and prayers to you and your dear children and family. Jen B xx

  13. Carol Anne says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. Sometimes in the stress of daily life with 3 boys (one with some special challenges) it is easy to forget this. I hope we will all be around to love eachother for a very long time, but just in case we are not, I have to remember to love them as much as possible TODAY!

    Thank you

  14. motherofbun says:

    Your answer to that question got me all teary-eyed. Beautiful answer. I should print your words out and tape them to the bathroom mirror. Might help me find more patience on those days when I feel completely emptied out by the boy and the husband. 🙂

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