Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

How much of an Exception is Cancer?

As a birthday treat, my mom is spoiling me and taking me to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. We are also traveling there with my friend Tina along with her mom and sister. Tina and her family have been there many times so I jokingly call her my "Sherpa" -- she will guide me and make sure I don't go astray as I sign up for all of the wonderful activities that Canyon Ranch has to offer.

In order to make the most of your stay, Canyon Ranch asks each visitor to fill out an extensive "Health & Lifestyle Questionnaire". How you answer the questionnaire helps the resort plan an individualized, highly customized, "once in a lifetime" stay for each visitor (their savvy marketing words which I respect and hope are true!)

I sat down this morning to fill out my questionnaire. I was answering the questions without much thought when suddenly the question "In general, how would you describe your health?" popped up. I had the choice of selecting, "Excellent", "Good", "Fair" or "Poor". I quickly answered "excellent" and moved on. Dave looked over my shoulder and said "I don't think you can say that you are in excellent health"....hmm, this is a dilemma.

How do I answer this question? In my heart and soul, I do feel excellent. Yes, I have occasional side effects from the chemo and yes I tend to sleep a lot at night. But my workouts have been solid, I eat well and I take very good care of myself. With the exception of cancer I am very healthy!

So, I guess the real question is, "how much of an exception is cancer?" It is hard for me to accept and truly believe that my body is not well. Before I was diagnosed in December, 2004 I felt very unhealthy. The fevers, night sweats and flu-like symptoms made me feel horrible. However, since we found the tumors 3+ years ago and have had a medical plan in place, most days I feel great!

I understand why I need to tell Canyon Ranch that I have cancer but can’t I still say that I rate my health as “excellent?” If my mind and body feel great, why does a condition or a word like cancer get in the way of how I describe myself to other people?

I spent all day today pondering how to answer the questionnaire. I decide to go with “Excellent” with an * that says I have been actively dealing with cancer for the past 3.5 years. Let Canyon Ranch interpret this as they will. I am being true to my “condition” but not allowing my condition to define who I am or how I feel!

That being said, I had a bit of a tough weekend with chemo. I went into my treatment on Friday with a cold which made the chemo a lot harder to handle. The nausea and exhaustion stayed with me for Friday night and most of Saturday but now I am back on my feet.

Heading to the gym now to stay true to my “excellent” health status.