Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

The Final Four


As Dave shared in his blog entry right after my surgery, I have been looking for a “name” that properly summarizes my 4th relapse.  It came to me as I was leaving for the hospital at 5:30AM on the Tuesday of my surgery…THE FINAL FOUR!

  • My 2nd relapse was called – Second Time Around (implying that I am more mature and can handle it better than I did the first time J)
  • My 3rd relapse was called “3 Times the Charm” or “3 Strikes Your Out” depending on whether you look at the glass as half-full or half-empty

I have been working hard this time around at really saying “good bye” to my cancer and willing it away for good.  Although I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking, some people believe that a person brings on their own condition.  In other words, certain actions that one has taken in life might have brought on a physical condition such as cancer. 

This seems somewhat self-destructive to me. I like to say that I am not responsible for having cancer but I am absolutely responsible for how I deal with the cancer.  

However, if you do subscribe to the “I bring on my own condition” theory, you also believe that you can’t truly be “done” with something unless you are completely ready to let go of it.  This is something I do understand.

It is often very hard for people to understand this but sometimes it is hard to say goodbye to cancer.  I myself find that after 4+ years battling the disease, I have become very comfortable with “the fight”.  When you spend so much time focused on something, it is often hard to just let go and move on.

That’s way there is a certain amount of fear that comes with having my 4th surgery. Let’s hope it is successful but after that, then what happens?  Am I ready to say goodbye?

As I was getting ready for surgery I kept on thinking of a scene from my favorite movie, Shawshank Redemption.   If you remember, Morgan Freeman’s character (Red) is in jail for a life sentence, however, every 10 years he appears before the parole board and is given a potential chance to get out of jail early.  When the time comes, he repeats the same drill.

Red religiously vows his rehabilitation has been accomplished - and swears - "that's the God's honest truth":

Reviewer: You feel you've been rehabilitated?

Red: Oh, yes sir. Absolutely, sir. Yeah, I've learned my lesson. I can honestly say that I'm a changed man. I'm no longer a danger to society. That's the God's honest truth. 


The Result: A mechanical stamp marks "REJECTED" in red ink on his parole records.

The same situation continues every 10 years until Red attends another parole hearing after serving forty years of his life sentence. Times have changed now that it is 1967 - there are four men and one woman on the board. Wiser and more open about his rehabilitation he answers them straightforwardly with regret for a crime he committed in a past era. He admits and accepts his atoning guilt, confesses his own unworthiness - and is ultimately saved from Shawshank:

Red: “Rehabilitated? Well now, let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means...I know what you think it means. To me, it's just a made-up word; a politician's word so that young fellas like you can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did. There’s not a day goes by I don't feel regret. And not because I'm in here or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then. A young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him. Tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone. This old man is all that's left. I gotta live with that. 'Rehabilitated?' That's just a bulls--t word. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a s--t.

The Result: Red is approved for parole when an automatic stamp marks his papers APPROVED in red ink.

What made Red ultimately get out of jail?  Was he more mature and more honest in his response?  Had he worked through all of his issues so that now he was ready for a 2nd chance? Or had he given up all hope, which made him, for the first time, fearless from rejection?

I thought about this a lot as I headed to my 4th surgery (roughly equivalent to the 40 year mark in Red’s life sentence).  What do I need to do to get “approved” this time…to move on and never look back?  

I vowed as Dave and I headed to the hospital on Tuesday AM that I would live my life as if I were no longer in jail.  And this surgery was the first step towards my ultimate redemption.