Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Feeling Especially Grateful

Today is December 26th and I am sitting in the day surgery area of NYU Hospital waiting for an update. I am happy to report that I am not the patient this time and that it is Dave who is having minor outpatient surgery. It makes sense to me that Dave’s surgery was set for December 26th…exactly 3 years ago on this date, I met with Dr. Vine of Mt. Sinai and scheduled surgery for what I thought was a benign tumor in my abdominal area.

This time of year is always a bit hard for me. Although I try to push the memories to the back of my mind, I am constantly reminded that three years ago the last few weeks of December were flooded with Doctor’s appointments, CT scans, MRI’s, medical procedures, night sweats, fevers and violent coughs that led to my cancer diagnosis.

In many ways, I feel like I have progressed so much… Three years ago, I could barely get through a Christmas movie without being thrown out of the theatre for disturbing people with my violent coughing. This year, Dave and I enjoyed a few movies without incident (although we didn’t make it to the late night showing because I was tired from chemo).

Three years ago I couldn’t get through the night without changing the sheets and my pajamas at least twice due to night sweats. Last night, I slept 9 hours straight no problem.

Yes, I now wear wigs, receive chemo weekly and have a medical port in my chest and titanium clips in my stomach, but I am no longer “in the dark” as this is the life I have now accepted and embraced.

And in many ways, I feel like there is still so much that scares me… In the past two months, two patients of Doctor Maki’s (and friends of mine), have died of sarcoma. Although I did not know these people very well, I would often see Carol and Michael during my weekly chemotherapy treatments. The older I get, the more I realize that you don’t need to know someone well to feel connected to them. It’s funny to me how in our society we often measure how well we know someone by the “facts” or “trivia” that we can collect about them:

  • How many brothers or sisters they have…
  • Where they went to college…
  • What is their favorite food…

The truth is, understanding the way someone approaches a difficult situation and seeing them in “action”, can make you close to someone in an instant. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know Mike or Carol’s favorite restaurant or when they got married, I knew that they had been dealt the cancer card and that they were going to do everything in their power to fight like hell to survive this ordeal. The fact that these two feisty, determined people lost their battle to cancer makes me realize that cancer doesn’t discriminate. It is also a constant reminder that I am so fortunate to have been able to stay on the “good” side of this disease for 3 years now. I don’t know why Michael and Carol were not as fortunate…we had the same doctor, similar financial resources, similar attitudes. It is scary to realize that “luck” is the answer…something over which I have no control.

December 30th is the 3rd annual “Day of Jen”…the three year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I am going to be spending it with my friend of 20+ years Rita. It will be a day to celebrate how far I’ve come and a day to embrace how lucky I have been and hope to continue to be.

Happy New Year to everyone. May 2008 be an incredible year for each and every one of you. I wish you health, happiness and the time to enjoy them.