chemo change up

Komen was such an amazing experience! I was so uplifted by the support from all my team members, the crowd and all the Komen volunteers and Board Members, and of course the VIP treatment. I completely surprised myself by speaking at the Jen Pagani Tough Cookie Award presentation. And I was so humbled and tickled to receive the medal also.

All that fun, paired with lots of radiation finally hit me hard, very hard. I basically couldn’t do much of anything the week following the race. I was hysterically tired. I tried not to show it to the boys, tried to be present and happy and engaged when they needed me. I basically had the energy to do one “thing” a day, it was all I could do. No laundry, meals, errands, straightening… I dropped everything else, made me sad, frustrated, made me wonder…

Last week, feeling more rested but far from “normal”, Joe and I left for Quebec (like old France right here in North America), our first trip alone in 3 years. The first night there we left dinner suddenly because I felt like a stomach bug was coming on. Rocco got big time throw ups right before we left (Gammy took good care of him in our absence though). We panicked a bit about what would happen if I fell ill with the flu in a foreign country, far from home, and with socialized medicine to boot. I prayed hard that first night and I woke up feeling like I was fighting something but was gonna be okay. Thank You God! Our vacay turned out great. We had un-interrupted time together to talk, laugh, see the sights and rest. We even did an impromptu zip line/climbing adventure by the Montmorency waterfall. It was amazing, empowering, good for my spirit but after the thrill wore off it totally crushed me physically. As soon as we made it back to the hotel I stayed in bed for 18 hours straight. I slept and slept and slept. It was obviously what I needed but also concerning. I can’t seem to recover. I feel like me body is failing me and it is very worrisome.

We returned to Charlotte Monday night after a tiring day of travel. Tuesday it was chemo time again. It kicked my ass. I have been on the couch since. I have not showered, been outside or done much of anything other than watch bad TV in the dark. I am grumpy, feel helpless and feel like things are looking a bit bleak. Today is Friday and I still feel like shit. (Oh I do have another sinus infection too). I need quiet, dark and time alone. But its Friday and we have school bingo night tonite. I will go, it is important to both boys. I want to go but not really because I feel so bad. People will see me and think, wow she’s out, she must be doing well. I’m not, that frustrates me too. And the rest of the weekend is full of their activities. I will do what I can and pretend to feel okay for some of it. I know I can’t do it all though.

While in QC I also discovered two more enlarged, fixed and very tender nodes (naturally). This time in my left groin (right where the hip meets the torso) and exactly where my cancerous nodes were on the right side. Not good, this will most likely mean a

rock climb

Jen scaling an 87 degree cliff beside a waterfall in Quebec

. We meet with Gary on Halloween to see if he has any other chemo options to re-try. Thus far, his one suggestion has been unacceptable from a quality of life stand point. I’m still on the pain patch and take additional pain meds on most days. It is controlling most of the discomfort from the radiated tumors. Additional tumors and ones that have grown since radiation now are causing quite a bit of discomfort despite the patch. Worrisome for sure.

Thanks for hanging in through this very long post. Please pray for me- to feel better, have less pain, for energy to get back into my life and that Gary pulls another drug out of his hat that’ll buy me some more, QUALITY, time. And please pray for my friend Paula. She is in the hospital right now with a possible severe infection, or even worse, cancer that has progressed to the point where it may threaten her life.

Thanks, Jen

Please bear with me for this post

Please bear with me for this post, my brain is not in peak form at the moment.
The GJG Team Party was totally fab Friday night!  We had a great turnout (I’m guessing about 250 peeps over the course of the eve with 50 to 75 kids running around having an absolute ball) great music, food and beer and big fun.  We also raised $2,850!  Yay!  Thank you so much to everyone who came out and supported us.  I am still riding the high, feeling the love.  Extra bonus for the weekend, my best friend from UGA visited AND, icing on the cake, the Dawgs beat the Tigers!!
In order to have an extra recovery day from chemo before RFTC this weekend, I received treatment Monday instead of my usual Tues.  Not a huge fan of starting the week that way… Monday afternoon I rushed directly from chemo to a marathon radiation set up and treatment appointment.  It rocked me with pain, which I was not at all expecting.  Having done 5 previous courses of radiation I consider myself pretty well versed in what to expect, but it was all surprises. Laying on my back for almost two hours on the treatment table and effectively squishing the tumor over my right shoulder blade between bone and metal, caused horrible pain despite pain meds.  This tumor has been hurting quite a bit anyway. Then shocking, lightening flashes of pain, but thank God only in 2 tumors, kicked in that night.  The Hydrocodone did not touch it.  After quite a few desperate hours I put on the narcotic patch (which I totally did not think I was going to need and have never used before) at 3am.  Its effects don’t  kick in for 12 to 24 hours after application which is also when the nausea from it can kick in as well (not what I wanted following chemo), but at that point it was a gamble I was willing to take.
Following radiation yesterday it all started up again, despite one patch and hydrocodone too.  After a call to Gary’s, and a meeting with both of my rad oncs, I am now on 2 narcotics patches, more nerve medicine and taking Hydrocodone as needed.  As I continue with treatments, and for who knows how long afterwards, cell death (tumors pressing on nerves) and swelling (stretching nerves) will continue and at some point peak (previously this has occurred about 3 weeks after my last radiation).  Hope it does not continue that long!!!  The good news is that I was able to sleep last night, tough I woke up in a total stupor.  I am hoping all the meds will dull or eliminate the lightening after today’s treatment at 4.  And that I’ll sleep tonight as well.
This has been a very long post, hopefully not too tedious for everyone, and I am pooped.  I, or one of our Board Members, will post some race deets tomorrow.  The Race is my carrot after what is turning out to be a very long week.

We’re back from paradise!

We’re back from paradise (Wrightsville) and have resumed our normal lives once again.  As per Pagani usual, we hit the ground runnin’.   I had my radiation set up appointment today.  We’re covering a good portion of the front of my torso, up back along my right shoulder blade and my right groin/upper thigh (yes, I have breast cancer in the subq tissues of my leg, go figure).  Shouldn’t be too horrible (feel free to remind me of this in a few weeks when it is horrible).  But, bonus, I don’t start til Monday ’cause they wont have all the calculations ready in time to start tomorrow.  Fab news because to tomorrow eve  is the pahtay! Yay!

Here are the deets-

Team Go Jen Go Party- Friday, September 27th.  We’ll be selling Go Jen Go team shirts for everyone to wear to the Komen Race as well as to sport around town to show your continued support for the cause.  Proceeds for the shirts will go to the Go Jen Go Foundation.

6 – 10 PM

3924 Oldfield Road (28226) in the Kingswood neighborhood @ the Keogh’s house again!

BBQ, Beer, Wine (and maybe even some water) and Live Music….

Our AMAZING partners and friends from Komen will also be at the party providing race registration including t-shirt, bib and packet!   Please join us this Friday night and sign up to Run for the Cure or Sleep in for the Cure.

Click the link below to register for the Go Jen Go Komen team today!

See ya tomorrow!  J

Pick Up Party! This Friday…

Are you a registered runner for GoJenGo’s Race for the Cure team or want to sign up?  To pick up your packet and information or to register come Friday to the pre-race party.  Come enjoy beverages, Mac’s BBQ and live music starting at 6 p.m., September 27th at 3924 Oldfield Road.  In addition, you can purchase race shirts that evening.    Your Invited this Friday!


These days I just don’t write as often.

These days I just don’t write as often.  I lack the energy and the will.  I am trying to devote more time being present in moment as a mom, wife, cancer survivor extraordinaire.  In my down time I’m avoiding introspection, trying not to ponder meaning of things, its a bit difficult because I’m an existentialist at heart.  But why beat a horse?  My conscious has been aiming for distraction- in my down time its repetitive, mind numbing games on my iPad or fab series (HBO of course, where all good show are made) on TV.  Joe and I’ve been catching up on the past seasons of Boardwalk Empire and Ray Donovan. We’ll watch one or two episodes a night.  Its drama total immersion, stepping out of our own problems and those of others.   Occasionally I even dream of the characters, their dilemmas, their dreams.  Its a sweet reprieve from what generally haunts me at night.
When I finally sit down to it, I am distracted (both by own mind and the constant “mom, mom, mom”…), have too many things to say and fall silent instead.  Today though I will put a bit out there.  We’re at the beach. We’ve been here since the middle of last week.  It is the first time I’ve been OOT since May and it was so very long overdue.  The daily grind, which effects us all, has grown tedious for me, life measured out by the endless cycles of treatment and recovery.   And though its hard not to ponder things a bit here- metaphors abound, life’s rich pageant, the glorious struggle for life plays out all around. It soothes my soul. For it is a gift to witness and a beautiful reminder of my own insignificance and of the interconnectedness of life and death.  They go hand in hand after all, and its not a thing to be mourned, at least not for long, its just the way things are.
Its also given my body a chance to heal, to rejuvenate.  When we left Charlotte I was still yet to have recovered from chemo, with a sinus infection and nursing a fractured rib (just happened doing nothing in particular but is the result of weakened bones in a heavily treated area).  I had and have many areas (the new masses that keep popping up  and growing like weeds) that are hurting bunches.  Despite all that we’ve had fun, great family time.  The boys have been silly and it is so fantastic for them to play together in pool without me having to entertain, rush off for a practice, engage in the homework battle or try and put dinner on the table.  We’ve laughed, played taken walks on the beach, hunted for shells and catered to Luca’s new and very pressing demands of maintaining his hair no matter the circumstances.  We even made a special trip out and over the bridge for gel. He dashes to the bathroom to fix a Mohawk or a do I’m calling the Ed Grimley every time his hair dries and just any old time the mood strikes, and it strikes often.
When we get back to town, back to reality, its time to hit the ground running survivor style.  I get scanned Wed and then on Thursday start radiation on two to four seperate areas of my bod.  The treatment is to help with pain and edema and I am ready for the help!  But Friday eve will be a treat.  We’ve got our annual GoJenGo tee shirt pick up party for our Komen race team.  The Keogh’s (they live directly across the street from us, we’re at 3923 Oldfield Rd, 28226) will host again.  Yay!  And beverages and Mac’s bbq will be provided.   Yum!  Come join us, get your new shirt and have some fun!
Better scoot, the waves are calling.  J

Pink Socks support GoJenGo

Some amazing YOUNG entrepreneurs from Beverly Woods Elementary are supporting local survivors! Please join them and the South Park Youth Association in supporting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink socks on game day during the month of October.  When you purchase through this order form all proceeds will benefit GoJenGo.  Orders must be received by Tuesday, Sept 24th for distribution the week of Sept 30th.  Pink Sock Order Form

Terry Wooten’s Lia Sophia Party

Are you a breast cancer survivor or know someone who’s bravely fighting the battle?

Please bring a friend and join me as we begin planning various FUN-draising events to support the incredible needs of the GoJenGo Foundation.

This October, I’ll be giving away 15% of my party sales to GoJenGo. By sharing the love of jewelry, you can help provide financial assistance to individuals and families that are battling breast cancer in our own community. In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), we’ll be kicking off the start of many fun activities that will change the lives and positively impact as many families as we can touch!

This is a VERY casual gathering, and a quick drop in is just fine!  Hope you can join me.

Click here to see invitation:

Chemo tomorrow :-(

Wow, today is the first day since school began that I haven’t had a single appointment, pressing concern (we had a yard sale Saturday, and yes we are gluttons for punishment), school commitment or speaking engagement.  Whew!  Too bad tomorrow is chemo time again,  blech!  Today I need to get some things done (always a bit of a mad, pre-treatment rush to accomplish before I get way behind again) but I’m tired, not really motivated, kinda in a semi-stupor (some might argue my permanent state these days) and trying to rest my right leg which is swollen from cancerous nodes (grrrr-for breast cancer this disease has managed to effect just about every part of my body in some way, death from a thousand cuts and all that).  I’m not sleeping well at all, no position comfortable for long, too many active cancerous areas that flat out hurt, despite pain meds.  And my dreams, they continue to hound me, they’re the usual variations of the same- the expectation that I must continue to perform some impossible task while a clocks counts down in the background,     there’s no hiding from my sub-conscious, though most nights I pray there is.  So today maybe  I’ll manage to check some boxes off my list, but we’ll have to wait and see how the day plays out.

But all the whining aside, last week was really quite good.  The boys finally both went to school for almost a full week (not LD Monday), and we started our 1st fall sport too- swim team for Rocco.  I was the lunchroom helper for both boys classes which was precious and informative. It was good to see the boys interacting with their classmates and put names to all the little faces.  I also had the opportunity to share our cancer story, the mission of the GJG Foundation and of GJG’s commitment to the folks at Consolidated Planning and McGladrey, both companies supporters of GoJenGo, Komen and have corporate commitments to serving our community.   And, Luca lost his first tooth yesterday, milestone!  Last night he went to bed pondering how much the tooth fairy would give him for it, “it’s really small, but it is my first one” .  He made $4.  Rocco, the stinker, tried to spoil the affair by looking me dead in the eye and saying that daddy and I were the real fairies.  I’m not sure if I should worry that my gaze never waivered when I fired right back that that would be ridiculous and what would parents possibly do all those teeth?  He said they would bury them in their back yards, hope he’s not a mobster in the making.  He’s already got a great name for it…

Yikes, I’m going on and on, sorry!  Race for the Cure is less than a month away!  Please join Team GoJenGo and support Komen. They fund life saving early detection and education programs and support breast cancer research.

OMG, I almost forgot, “how bout them Dawgs”?!?!    Jen

First Blog Post on the GJG site!!!

Peeps sorry for the delay in posting!!  Meant to get the 411 on how to post directly to my website, right now I go through an administrator, but didn’t happen.  Good intentions and all that…
My appointment last week with Gary was in a nutshell, not good news, but not dire either (which was good because Luca came along for the appointment- he did not want to but the nurses spoiled him rotten!).  Basically I got my wish, stay the course, manage the discomfort with some meds.  The spread is of an acceptable sort (acceptable because we have no untried options) so we keep on truckin’.  As for the the new masses on my back and any new superficial masses that might crop up (i.e.-not on my vital organs), I will see Dr Fraser, my radiation guy, to decide when we want to hit those suckers with some electrons (the EZ radiation variety).  6th time’s a charm!
Luca was so excited the night before his first day of school (Wednesday, the KG’s do a staggered start the first week) he could hardly sleep.  He got on the bus like a champ (nary a backward glance but I did get a wave through the window) and apparently loves riding it.  He had a great day even though it was mainly orientation type stuff.  He couldn’t wait for day two.  He totally loves it!  What a fabulous gift for us all!
I wondered a bit if I might have a melt down after kicking birdie number two outta the nest and onto the bus, like one of my dear friends did, but I did okay though I did keep waiting for the emotional damn to burst.  It came out a bit later as a mix of elation and intense sorrow and manifested itself as a short temper (nothing new for the familia Pagani I assure you) around the house.  I didn’t really have time for it anyway, I had way too much s*** to do, like a summer’s worth of backlog, the mom’s out there know what I mean.
Our website,, is underway.  It is taking some time to get it right but it’ll pay off.  My blogs will be posted at here at the website from now on.  Thank you for following me, both my cancer journey and my transition from CB!
Komen is on Saturday, October 5th and is coming up fast!  Please join up on Team GoJenGo and tell your friends, neighbor, co-workers, random peeps to sign up too!  The GoJenGo Foundation, and the financial assistance and help it provides to our local, in-need, breast cancer community, evolved out of our very first Komen team!  Team GoJenGo will have some kick butt tees this year, great colors, and will have another fun, tee shirt pick up party at the Keogh’s house/backyard entertainment heaven.  This year we are gonna do it on Friday, September the 27th, a week before the race, rather than the night before.  This will be less taxing on moi and hopefully allow me to actually have a cocktail or two, rather than stumbling (literally, last year I had to have two friends help get me back across the street) home exhausted and stone cold sober.
Just click on the link below to join Team GoJenGo:
Thanks!  Jen

Countdown to race: 3 days!


These cool race tshirts are coming hot off the presses!  RunJenRun packet pickups start TOMORROW!  You can go to the Charlotte Running Company in Dilworth between 4pm and 7pm OR you can head to South Charlotte on Friday and go to the Charlotte Running Company – South in Ballantyne from 4-7pm.  Click on the tshirt above to get details, directions, and/or maps!

And if you are one of the five or so people in Charlotte who HAVEN’T signed up, better do it fast!  You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have the INAUGURAL RunJenRun Tshirt.  Just you wait…it is bound to be a collector’s item!

See you at McAlpine Park!

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