Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Life is Good…1 Year Later

Sunday, March 2nd is a very meaningful day for me. It marks exactly 1 year since I started chemotherapy for the 2nd time. It is hard to believe that for the past 52 weeks I have been getting chemotherapy practically every week. Dave took this picture last year on the first day of treatment #2.

In some ways my recurrence (I don't like using the word relapse because it sounds like I had something to do with the cancer coming back) feels like it happened years ago and in some ways it feels like only yesterday.

I remember very vividly the shock, anger and disappointment I felt when Dr. Maki shared with me the fact that 2 tumors had reappeared and that I would have to go through even more chemotherapy...and that the chemotherapy would most likely last a much longer time.

I remember the anger that I felt when I learned that the new chemotherapy regimen I was going to be placed on would cause me to lose my hair. It had taken me more than a year to FINALLY accept my "new hair". I had gone through months of feeling ugly, masculine etc. and I finally felt like my hair was morphing into some sort of style. I had finally gotten past the phase of "she is getting over cancer" hair and had evolved to the "she just has a cute, short hair cut" hair. And now, to be told that I would lose my hair again, and that down the road I would have to go through this whole "hair growing back" process again, it was too much to handle.

I remember wondering how I was going to possibly garner the mental and physical strength to go through this process yet again. I had put everything I had into my first round of treatments and surgery. To be told that I would have to find the strength to do it all over again really made me ask the question, "Do I have it in me to gear up for the fight?"

I remember having just been offered a new job opportunity and wondering whether I could really accept the position given this new diagnosis. Would a new workplace understand my situation and would I be healthy enough to take on a new job and thrive?

What's amazing is that my first bout with cancer consisted of 2 surgeries and 6 months of chemotherapy. This second round, to date, has consisted of 1 surgery and 12 months of chemotherapy...and I'm not done yet.

It's interesting to me that although this second round is lasting more than 2x as long as the first, I feel like the first round took much more out of me...physically and mentally. The second time has become more of a "routine" and I much more comfortable dealing with it.

In fact, I think it's correct to say that everyone in my world has handled this second round with a maturity that we didn't have the first time around. No longer do we obsess over every side effect I have or plan our lives around my next CT scan or treatment. In fact, I feel like over the past 6 months, I am able to go out to dinner with friends and family and we don't even talk about my cancer. People no longer ask me "how-are-you-feeling-type" questions and this is great!

It's amazing what someone can handle when they are told they don't really have a choice. I believe my diagnosis is a testament to what the body and mind are capable of dealing with when giving up is not an option. If you had told me 3.5 years ago that I would be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and that I would have to endure at least 3 surgeries and 18 months of aggressive chemotherapy, I don't know what I would have done. It would have been way too overwhelming for me to even know how to handle. However, 3.5 years later, this is exactly what I have managed.

The irony is that I feel like I have not just managed this cancer but I have thrived throughout this diagnosis. Cancer has given me the opportunity to really test what I am made of...

To celebrate 1 year of non-stop chemo, I am going to take a 2 hour cycling class. As I sweat and struggle through the class, I will be reminded that despite the wear and tear of the chemo, I still am very much alive and thriving.

Have a great day! My favorite Spin4Survival pictures will be featured next!