Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Approaching Chemo Cycle #2 with Hope and Dread

I love the quote, "You can't experience the highest of highs unless you have experienced the lowest of lows". I don't know who said it but I always remember it when I am having a particularly wonderful moment. I realize that the only reason I truly know it is a wonderful moment is because I have had many moments that were the stark opposite. I do believe that the heights of joy and gratitude you can reach are much higher if you have had some sorrow or sadness in your life.

So, the few days before Chemo Cycle #2 started were "the highest of highs". I had great energy, I was more mobile because some of my leg swelling had subsided and I got my appetite back. I actually felt somewhat human. I still was very achy and tired and had to take daily naps but I was able to get out of the house a few times for some meetings that made me feel so great.

I went to visit the Cycle for Survival offices and meet with all of the members of the team to discuss our progress and plans for this year's event. It was so energizing to spend time with the 20+ folks who work on this event to make it as effective and memorable as it is. It was so fulfilling to see that many of the team members have just as much passion for the event as I do.

I also had the honor of sitting on a Duke Alumni Panel for non-profit leaders. It was a wonderful 90-minute session where myself and 3 other Duke Alumnae who run non-profit organizations were able to talk about what we have learned over the years. There were about 75 attendees and it was a great night.

I even had a beauty technician that I found on Craig's List come to the house and give me a pedicure while my blood counts were high!

So, I felt really great...until about 2:30 on Friday when Dave and I needed to go to the clinic for Chemo Cycle #2. I started to sweat, my heart started to speed up and my legs felt like they were 300 lbs. I realized that I had a lot of anxiety about starting again. The fact that my legs are shrinking is a great early sign that things are headed in the right direction. However, I didn't want to subject myself to the pain all over again. But, I realized it had to be done.

So, we went to the chemo lounge. I meditated and listened to beautiful ocean music prior to the chemo and visualized the chemo coursing through my veins going directly into the tumors and helping shrink them. By putting myself in a peaceful mindset it actually made the chemo session go very well. And the steroids made me crave a burger and fries which Dave was thrilled about! I think I ate more on Friday than I have in the last month!

In the 3 days since Friday, I am doing OK. The symptoms are manageable, I just find myself so zonked. Today I literally couldn't do anything except sit in a chair and close my eyes until about 1:30. I guess I have to go with the flow. Tomorrow I am getting a blood transfusion which should give me a bit more energy to get through the toughest days (the next 5 or so). We will be doing a CT scan in mid December to get a sense of what's happening. We are optimistic but we also realize that there is a VERY long road ahead. Thanks for sticking with us.

My Cycle for Survival Story of Gratitude today is dedicated to my dear friend Wil Ashley. If you have participated in Cycle for Survival over the years, Wil needs no introduction. He is the self-proclaimed "Spin NazI' who ends the Graybar session every year. He teaches about 20 classes/week at Equinox that are always wait-list only and he is tough. But, on the inside, he is a big teddy bear.

Wil has been involved in Cycle for Survival since the beginning...when we were just 50 bikes in Equinox' Columbus Circle cycling studio. Wil is very committed to finding advances in cancer research and every year he works hard to "top" his performance from the year before.  Last year, he offered to match dollar for dollar, every donation that was received during the last hour of the ride. We couldn't believe that participants and attendees donated over $6K. Well, Wil decided to donated $10K! It was amazingly generous.

Not only is Wil a great ambassador for Cycle for Survival but he is also a great friend. Over the years he has inspired me when I am able to take his classes and he visits me when I am too weak to get on a bike. He dedicated the last song of the ride to me last year...Chumba Wumba's, Tubthumping. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the chorus is:

I get knocked down but I get up again, you're never gonna bring me down!

It was amazing to have 1000's of people riding and singing to me and encouraging me to keep going. Here is the video if you want to get pumped up. It is a great workout song!


Well, this year Wil has really gone all out. He is the ultimate mega-team captain, taking over 12+ bikes and having over 60 of his cycling students ride on the When There's a Wil, There's a Way Team. He is hoping to raise a boatload of money and I am so touched by his actions and words. I

wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday because it is truly a time to thank everyone in your life for what they have done for you. Please don't miss out on this opportunity. Life is too short and we should be expressing gratitude every day. I know that just today I started crying because I was able to tie my shoes on my own (two weeks ago, I couldn't bend because I was so bloated).

We can show gratitude for big or small doesn't matter. Just don't forget to sit back and realize how much good you have in your life. I know that Dave and I are so grateful this year.

My mother has a tradition where everyone who attends her Thanksgiving dinner writes what they are grateful for on the tablecloth. It is really fun to review what people write over the years. This year, Dave and I have decided to write the following:

We are grateful for TODAY...and for all of the friends and family who got us here. Day by day we find our way.