Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Meditating to Relieve the Anxiety

I apologize for not having written in a week. Take this as a good sign that I am slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things.  I am feeling a bit better each day. I am no longer taking any pain medicine and I am slowly but surely adding new foods into my diet.

My appetite has really come back and in the past week I am proud to say that I have moved beyond my diet of noodles, chicken, white rice and bagels and have embraced fruit, salmon and even some sorbet.  I am hoping to eventually get to vegetables which will be great.

I have been taking the oral chemo for more than a week and so far, so good.  I am a bit tired, which could be from the surgery as well as chemo, but beyond that, I am feeling really strong. I see my doctor this Friday to get a sense of how my body is handling the chemo (blood work etc).

My daily walks have gotten longer and easier.  Hopefully I can get back to the gym in the next few weeks.  I know I have to take it easy but I really can't wait to start sweating on my terms (as opposed to the night sweats I got from the chemo).

As I have shared before, I am committed to doing whatever I can to make sure this cancer stays away.  I know that I don't ultimately have control over it but it's important to me that I feel as if I have tried everything that is supposed to be "good" for me.  I noticed that the one area I really haven't explored to date is meditation.  Shockingly Team Jen consists of a nutrionist gastroenterologist, accupuncturist, physical therapist and reflexologist but there is no yogi meditator!

So, in the last few weeks I have had an expert teach me the basics and I have started to "meditate".  I use the term loosely because I am not a natural talent to this art.  I now have a guided imagery CD that I try to listen to 2-3x a week and I am attending a relaxation/meditation class at the hospital 1x a week.  I know you are supposed to meditate daily but give me credit for even trying!

It's very funny to observe my attempts at meditation.  It took the guy who visited my house at 2 minutes to classify me as a "Type A, overachieving New Yorker" and that's when I was only 3 weeks post- surgery and still drugged up!  I am scared to ask him how he would classify me when I am completely healthy and not on painkillers! 

Meditation is all about accepting the way things are and not judging yourself or categorizing any of your actions as "right" or "wrong".  I find that my mind wanders a lot while I am trying to meditate and I have to resist the urge to yell at myself, "You are doing it wrong! You stink at this!"  Anyway, I must admit that after a few minutes of meditating, I do feel more relaxed and see things clearer (literally and figuratively).

In fact, while my mind was NOT supposed to be wandering, I started to think a lot about my current situation and how I sometimes get anxious about my disease.  Most people would say that being anxious about a potentially terminal type of cancer is normal but my anxiety centers much more around a type of "performance anxiety"-- I don't want to let anyone down.

This might sound odd to you but I fee like after being cancer 5 times, I have become a bit of a hero to many cancer patients as well as my family and friends.  When I use the word "hero" it's not meant to be an ego thing but more like I seem to be invincible or indestructible to many.  In fact, someone the other day said to me, "Well, you've beaten it 5 times before, if it comes back, you'll just beat it again."    People regard me with a sense of wonder that I have been able to conquer this disease over and over again. And I would be remiss not to include myself in this group. Sometimes I just can't believe I keep on beating this thing down. I am like the Energizer Bunny -- I just keep going and going...

I have also noticed that whenever I speak to someone who has lost a loved one to cancer, they adamantly say, "You have to get better!" or they tell Dave, "You must take care of her!"  Now clearly no one means anything harmful by this and they just are expressing their desires to keep me healthy.  However, sometimes I can't help but internalize all of these well wishers and start to feel pressured into staying ahead of the cancer.

I know it's irrational but sometimes I feel like if my disease takes a wrong turn and I can't maintain my health that I will be letting people down.  I think it makes everyone (including myself) feel better to think that I have control over my illness ("it's all about the attitude!") but the reality is that (1) yes, I have proactively done all that I can to stay healthy and (2) despite these proactive measures, I have been truly fortunate that my disease has not gotten worse.

As Lance Armstrong says in his book, It's Not About the Bike, "Despite my athletic abilities and young age, I would be foolish not acknowledge luck in this process.  I am not sure why I have been chosen to still be alive given what I have gone through".

So please know that I am just doing the best I can.   I just hope and pray every day that I continue to make everyone proud of my progress.  And most of all, I hope that the performance that people remember about me is the way I performed while living with this disease...regardless of what happens down the road.

My friend just sent this image to me after reading my latest entry and I had to post it.  Here I am, the meditating Superman!