Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

A “No Regrets Weekend”

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The first thing I thought of when my Doctor rejected me from chemo last week was not “I hope I don’t get sick.” Or “I hope the cancer isn’t spreading.” It was, “I hope this means I still get to go see my college girlfriends this weekend for our reunion getaway weekend!”
Every year or so, my Duke girlfriends and I pick a destination and meet to reminisce about old memories and create new ones. This is no easy task because among the 6 of us there are 14 children (OK, one of our friends has 7 which really tips the scales), 5 husbands and a ridiculous number of miles. No one lives in the same city. We fly from San Francisco, San Diego Charlotte, Nashville, Boston and New York to be together. Over the years we have met up in Las Vegas, The Big Apple, Nashville, Austin and have attended each other’s weddings in New Orleans, upstate NY, New Jersey and Altanta.
This year we were headed to my friend’s family home at the Jersey shore and I really didn’t want to miss it! My girlfriends were selfless enough to offer to change the weekend plans and visit NYC instead but being a proud Jersey girl, I knew that a little sun, boardwalk and Springsteen would do me well.
I was a bit concerned about exerting myself too much so I asked myself, “What would the best outcome be of this next week?” My answer was “that I get to hang out with my girlfriends AND have my counts be good enough to get chemo when I return”. Well, we all know that unfortunately I don’t have a lot of control over my blood counts…but I did realize that I do have control over how I handle myself over the weekend. So, I visited the shore and in addition to having a great time walking on the beach, eating ice-cream on the boardwalk and going out to great dinners, I also took a few naps and made sure to sleep well at night. I told my girlfriends upon leaving that I had “no regrets” and that if my blood counts weren’t high enough when I returned to have chemotherapy, I couldn’t blame the way I conducted myself over the weekend (well, unless excessive salt water taffy makes your counts low!).
I was so glad that I didn’t say no to the weekend and seized the day. Because when I went in for blood work yesterday I was shocked to find out that my counts were even lower than last week! It’s hard enough to be a chemo reject for 1 week but for 2?!? My doctor gave me some shots to artificially boost my counts and hopefully this won’t happen again going forward. Imagine if I had not gone to the beach and my counts were still low (likely what would have happened)…I would have been so upset. I would have sacrificed something really important to me and I still wouldn’t have had the outcome I wanted.
I have learned over the past 6 years that there is a way to, in fact, prioritize your health AND live the life you want. The answer isn’t always an “either, or” situation. You don’t have to abandon what you love to do or want to do because of fear of what might be or could be. I made a commitment to myself that I could go away with my girlfriends AND (not but) take care of myself in a way that would make me satisfied. So many of us cancel plans or turn down things that we love to do because of fear of what might happen (“If I go to the beach with my girlfriends, there is no way I will be able to rest in a way that will improve my health”). While I was definitely frustrated and annoyed that my counts hadn’t improved, I knew I couldn’t blame the way I conducted myself…which made the weekend all that much sweeter.
I love my college girlfriends and I believe that being in their presence actually improved my health and well-being this past weekend. Check out the “Top 10 “ video they created for my Energizer Bunny Hall of Fame Nomination (be warned, it’s a bit “R” rated!)