Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

The 5th Annual Day of Jen

It's hard to believe but tomorrow, December 30th, marks the fifth anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Five years ago I was admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital to remove a large tumor (which we were hoping was benign) from my abdominal area. In some ways the events leading up to and right after my diagnosis feel like just yesterday. I have many vivid memories that always return to me around this time of year: • My general practitioner telling me that my blood work was “way off” and ordering a full body CT scan • The radiologist asking me innocently if I knew I had a big tumor in my stomach (umm…no?!?) • The uncontrollable coughing fits in the movie theatre on Christmas (the tumor was resting heavily on my diaphragm). • The bittersweet shock that my clothes were all getting big on me...I was losing weight so effortlessly but why? • The anxiety leading up to my first surgery (what would happen if I woke up during surgery and couldn’t see?!?) • My “last supper” before I went through the colon prep for surgery (grilled cheese and French fries which I hardly touched) • Those first few days post-surgery that were so painful (now I am an old pro at the post-surgery pain). • Doing “laps” around the hospital with Dave on New Year’s Eve wearing Happy New Year hats (“laps” = very small crawl) And in some ways I feel like we have been living with my diagnosis forever: • My team of doctors who once seemed so foreign are now so familiar • The chemotherapy routine which seemed so daunting is now strangely comfortable • The fact that I have been wearing a wig for 5 years and don't remember the texture/ color of my real hair • The process of “watchful waiting” which seemed beyond stressful is now just a way of life… Many people don’t understand me when I say that cancer is one of the best things that has happened to me. Despite all of the cons (and there are many), I do feel like it has put me so in touch with what’s important in life and what I am here on this earth to do and to contribute. Because of this, rather than make the 5th anniversary of my diagnosis a somber day, it will become a quiet celebration marking my growth as a human being. On the agenda: a great cycling class with a tremendously motivating instructor (who, of course, will be teaching at Cycle for Survival on January 31st), a manicure/pedicure and massage, and a nice dinner with Dave enjoying some of my favorite foods (the foods I couldn’t eat when I was on treatment). I will use this day to celebrate all that I have learned in the past five years and to solidify my commitment to how I handle my future. A future that I hope will be filled with good health. And if that is not in the cards, I now know I can take it on.