Friday, July 29, 2011

Kill It in the Butt is Moving!

Blogspot you have been good to me- real good to me. But I have outgrown you-and it's time for me to bid you farewell.

I am pleased to announce that Kill it in the Butt has a new and improved home at


www.twistoutcancer.org


I hope you will check out our new digs!

You can still follow my journey by subscribing to my blog at the new site.
I look forward to seeing you tiny twisters in our new and improved home.


www.twistoutcancer.org

Ciao for now.

-Jenna

Monday, July 25, 2011

2 feet, 2 legs, 2 worlds, 2 selves- 1 life.

So here we are- 11 weeks post- treatment, 8 weeks post-infection, 6 weeks post-reconnection with the outside world.

It feels great to be back-but I am not really back.
So where exactly am I? And who exactly is this?

I feel as if I am living in gumby's over-stretched body.  I have one foot planted in the life that I used to lead, that is familiar, Cancer-free, routine, and safe.  The other foot is planted in a new life- that is unfamiliar, Cancerous, exciting, and frightening.

I am attempting to walk around with mismatched shoes and over-stretched limbs that are being yanked and pulled in opposing directions. I am working hard to get my feet and legs to communicate with one another-but they are both so oppinionated!

The leg and foot that exists in the life that I used to lead has decided to go on a sprint, exploring the roads that are familiar, routine, comfortable and committed to memory.  I run down these paths with a new found urgency and fear that one day I will be robbed of these memories, robbed of this space, robbed of this life.

And then there is the other leg and foot that is planted in this new territory, this new space, this new existance.  This world operates at a slower pace, is filled with new emotions, new feelings, new ideas and a new perspective.  All of my senses are magnified- I see and feel things differently.  I bruise more easily.

2 legs, 2 feet,  2 worlds, 2 selves, that are sprinting and walking in vehemently opposed directions.

How can I really be back, when I am headed in opposite directions? How can I really be back, when part of me is choosing to live in a time before Cancer? How can I really be back when the other part of me is trying to find my footing in a post- treatment world?

As I continue to try to live in both worlds, I am really living in neither.

As I work to find my footing, work to find my balance, work to integrate my 2 feet, my 2 legs, my 2 worlds, my 2 selves, I am still fighting Cancer.

What many do not understand is that while I may not be tied up- I am still fighting. While I may not be awaiting another round of treatment- I am still fighting. While I may not be bound to my bed, mal-nourished and exhausted-I am still fighting.

I fight every day to be here, to be present, to be alive.
I fight every day to live fully, live gratefully, and live mindfully.
I fight every day to hold on to the hope that Cancer will not return, will not reenter my body, will not reenter the life that I am trying to slowly, pragmatically and thoughtfully rebuild.

And perhaps it is that fear that is preventing me from taking these 2 feet, 2 legs, 2 worlds and 2 selves and integrating it into 1 life.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Voice Within- Brought Back by Tapping.

This past week my voice went missing.
Without warning she decided to pack up and leave.
I feared I had permanently lost her in the woods- just outside of Traverse City, Michigan.

I looked for her on my long runs, but she was hiding.
I searched for her at night as I laid down to sleep-but she was absent.
I longed for her, needed her, wanted her.
She avoided me.

I had so much I wanted to say, but no where to put my thoughts, my feelings, my hopes, my dreams.  I was overwhelmed by a sea of moments, but was unable to capture and share them.
My heart and mind swelled with emotions, yet I was unable to find the words to release them.

I was ashamed that after all these months of clinging to my voice, and reclaiming her, I let her wander off.
Was she ok?
Would she find her way back?
Would she return looking, feeling, and sounding the way I had remembered her?

This past week, as my voice quietly explored the world around me, I found myself lost in days that have become over-programmed, over-stimulated, and overwhelming.

After spending months in hibernation, I feel a sense of urgency to do everything at once, and as fast as humanely possible. I may have initially tiptoed into this new chapter, but now-I am sprinting.

Remember when I said I wouldn't do this?
I need to not do this!

I believe this urgency is rooted in the belief that I need to take full advantage of today because I (we) are not guaranteed tomorrow. At the same time, as I continue to say yes to new projects, events, plans, relationships, I am feeling stretched thin.  I am doing everything yet nothing at all.

As I left my house tonight feeling pulled in a hundred directions, I wondered when and if my voice would decide to return.  As I unexpectedly watched my good friend perform with his band The Son's of Susan (http://www.sonsofsusan.com/), a woman my age, bravely left her table, got up in front of the band, and started "spontaneously" tap dancing.

Her feet provided the beat.
Her heart was there on the floor.
Her soul was exposed for all to see.

As she pitter pattered her way through the song, I watched her, marveling at her talent, her skill, her bravery.

The beat she created-was the calling I needed-for my voice to return.

And so here I am, with the words, I have been longing for, searching for, hoping for.  As it turns out they were there all along, I just didn't know the song and dance I needed to unlock them.

As my days continue to fill up, and I try to negotiate how to live each day mindfully, I hope I can remember the sound of her tapping, the face of her bravery, and be reminded that my voice is never missing, it lies here within.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let's Twist Out Cancer on August 11th, 2011

So here we are- 2 generations of Lymphoma Survivors brought together by our disease, our attitude, our outlook.
We call ourselves Lymphoma Soul Sisters.
Meet Noreen- she is a 31 year old physical therapist, daughter, sister, and friend to many. More recently she has become a head twister, fighter, Cancer Crusher, who is determined to laugh, dance, and shimmy shake her way through Cancer.

We ask you to join us on August 11th at the Hideout to Twist Out Cancer.

Noreen and I will be twisting.
We look forward to seeing you on the dance floor.

video


To purchase tickets online go to http://www.hideoutchicago.com/event/41343/

Band Info
Jesse Palter and the Alter Ego   http://www.palterego.com/
Laser Love and the Heated Heat http://www.facebook.com/laserlove
Deanna Neil on the Ukele http://www.deedeebird.com/live/

Keynote Speaker
Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman's Angels http://www.imermanangels.org/


Emcee
Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter, NBC5

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society http://www.lls.org/#/aboutlls/

Can't Twist Out Cancer with Us On August 11th but still want to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?
Please help me twist out Cancer one mile at a time at http://pages.teamintraining.org/il/chichalf11/jbenns





PRESS RELEASE
  
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                CONTACT:  Jenna Benn
TO: Assignment Editors, Planning Editors,    Grey Zone Lymphoma Survivor
Community Calendars                                          twistoutcancer@gmail.com
                                                                                   
                                                                                 
Jenna Benn, 29 Year Old Grey Zone Lymphoma Survivor Invites 
                                    You to Twist Out Cancer

Chicago, IL, July 18, 2011….Over the last 8 months, Jenna Benn, has been 
Twisting her way through her battle with Grey Zone Lymphoma, a rare blood 
disorder that affects less than 500 in the United States. In an effort to raise awareness 
and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Jenna will be hosting a fundraiser 
entitled “Let’s Twist Out Cancer” on August 11, 2011, at 8:00 pm at the Hideout, located at 354 Wabansia Avenue, Chicago, IL.

The event will feature live music provided by LA based artists Jesse Palter and the Alter Ego http://www.palterego.com/, Laser Love and the Heated Heat http://www.facebook.com/laserlove, Deanna Neil on the Ukele http://www.deedeebird.com/live/, and French DJ David Pelerin.

Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman’s angels http://www.imermanangels.org/ will be the keynote speaker.

Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $36.00 at the door. Proceeds will directly go towards Jenna’s 1/2 marathon fundraising campaign that directly benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
  
To learn more about her efforts in Twisting Out Cancer One Mile at a Time, go to http://pages.teamintraining.org/il/chichalf11/jbenns

To purchase tickets to “Let’s Twist Out Cancer” go to http://www.hideoutchicago.com/event/41343/

To learn more about how Jenna has chosen to Twist Out Cancer, check out her blog http://killitinthebutt.blogspot.com

All Media Inquiries should contact Jenna Benn at twistoutcancer@gmail.com
























Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lost and Found in Love and Tango

Last night, without knowing it, I found myself tiptoeing between the haunting memories of my past and the colorful, newly formed memories of my more recent present. As I tiptoed between what was and what is, I was unsure of where I was.

Somewhere beneath the trees, in a ravine, at my close friend's childhood home, I found myself lost in love and tango.

The captivating chanteuse Gabrielle Louise, a native of Colorado, and a winter resident of Buenos Aires, gave an intimate concert where she candidly opened up her heart, revealing the poetry that lives within her soul.

As she delicately danced between folk and tango music, I found myself wrestling with feelings and memories I thought I had buried.

She sang about her recent affection for the morning light, loved lost, and lessons learned. As her songs deepened with intensity, I found myself digging deeper.

Unexpectedly my mind wandered, accessing and revealing memories of a shattered relationship in Montreal. I remembered his smell, his touch, his gaze as if he were in front of me. I felt the wound that had taken years to heal, briefly open, only to be quickly closed up again by my powerful and protective mind.

Gabrielle's lyrics darkened and became more passionate.

As her music intensified and swelled, I was quickly transported from mending my healing wounds- to Buenos Aires, the magical city I had visited 15 months ago-before I knew I was sick- before my Cancer journey began. She brought me back to San Telmo, where Maggie and I held the hands and shoulders of strangers, as we willingly allowed ourselves to become completely enveloped by the power of tango.

As I accessed these memories, I could feel the frame of the 75 year old Texan who told me to close my eyes, feel the music, and let go. I remembered how light I felt as we slowly, cautiously, and at carefully tiptoed across the floor. We danced for hours without speaking. We may have been silent, but we were communicating.

I then remembered Juan, the 25 year old professional tango dancer, who aggressively took my hand and tried to overwhelm me with his skill and masculinity. With Juan, I breathed deep, pushed back, and quietly screamed.

Gabrielle continued to soar, her melodies deepening, her voice strengthening.

It was only then that I realized that by getting lost in love and tango in Chicago, I was able to be found in San Telmo. For 8 months I have been learning how to dance with Cancer. I have twisted, turned, and tango-ed my way through this disease to understand her, to fight her, to beat her. In Montreal, I learned how the power of the mind has the ability to heal the wounds of the heart. With the Texan, I learned how to listen, how to let go, how to silently communicate. With Juan, I learned how to push back, access my voice and silently scream. I had no idea that love and tango would teach me how to handle Cancer.

Gabrielle Louise- thank you for helping me unlock the memories and lessons that were living in my past, influencing my present, and quietly shaping my future.

Your gift of poetry and song must be shared- the world looks better, brighter, more translucent through your eyes.

Thank you.

www.gabriellelouise.com

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Return of My Senses


During the 6 months of torture where my former-self was tied up, paralyzed, and disconnected from the outside world, I learned to escape-by dreaming.

Every night I hoped and prayed that I would dream because I needed the release, I needed the escape, I needed to connect with the person I had lost, and be introduced to the person that I had hoped to one day become.

In my dreams I was able to catch glimpses of my former self, and gain insight into my true-self, who was alive, present, and twisting.

As I danced from dream to dream, there was one in particular that reoccured night after night- that brought me happiness, that brought me calm, that brought me hope.

In this dream I would carefully dip my toes into the warm white sand, deeply breath in the ocean air, and stare out into the endless sea with my two closest childhood friends carefully situated by my side, protecting me, loving me, and nurturing me as they have for the past 25 years.

I could see, smell, taste, touch and feel what this experience would be like. Although my senses were slowly and methodically taken from me throughout treatment, they were returned to me in this dream-and in a heightened state. It was as if all of my senses had become magnified. The world around me was glowing.

This weekend, the dream that gave me happiness, that gave me calm, that gave me hope, became a reality.

After 8 months of being grounded, I finally took flight with my two closest childhood friends. As we carefully dipped our toes in the sand, deeply breathed in the ocean air, and stared out at the endless sea, I realized that it was their loving cocoon, their armor, their ammunition that helped me fight this disease with the tenacity in which I wanted to live. 

Their protection, their love, their friendship helped release me -allowing me to eventually reconnect with the world around me, and allowing for the return of my senses.  I no longer have to live in this dream to connect with my senses, but rather I have this sea of moments to remind me that the world around me is glowing.

Annie and Kasey,
As I danced from dream to dream hoping to escape the torture of my reality, you helped show me how beautiful life can be on the outside, on the inside, and in this moment.

Thank you.


Photo by Michele Prizant Kellner

Da and Mia, Thank you for opening your home, your hearts, your world to us. You reminded us that "one singular sensation, every little step you take...one moment in your presence, every move that you make" is always better when shared with those you care the most about.  



Friday, July 1, 2011

What Grounds Us- Fulfills Us.

For the last 8 months I have been grounded. Grounded by a disease that has taken too many moments to try to understand. Grounded by side effects that has forced me to dance in the shadows and feel excluded from the world around me. Grounded by a permanently changed perspective that I unknowingly adopted after facing my own mortality.

As I waited in anticipation for the day when I could finally take flight, I had a lot of time to think about what grounds me. What exactly keeps me rooted, centered, and focused, as the world around me unexpectedly shifts and changes?

For years I dreamed about moving to Israel and creating a life in a land that I felt a deep spiritual, emotional, and cultural connection to. A few years ago I was in the process of making aliyah, because I whole-heartedly believed that this was where I was meant to be. I was convinced that living in Israel would bring me the sense of fulfillment and wholeness that I was desperately searching, longing and hoping for.

As it turns out it was Cancer, not Israel, that led me to this feeling of fulfillment.

While Cancer may have physically grounded me, my inner world, my emotional world, and my spiritual world transcended and evolved at a speed that was at times alarming.

I had a tremendous amount of time to think about my priorities, my hopes and dreams, and the full life I was determined to lead after I twisted out Cancer. As my physicality became more severely compromised, my heart and mind opened -waiting to be filled up.

While Israel is and will always be a magical and special place for me, I realize now that it is not about where you are physically but rather where you are emotionally that matters.

Since completing treatment, I find myself engaged in moments that remind me that I am exactly where I should be.

I am here today because my heart, mind, and inner world are open. I am here today because I refused to let Cancer ground the other parts of me. I am here today holding the hands of my two childhood friends, taking my first flight after 8 months, with the knowledge that no matter where we go, there we are.

So thank you Cancer for grounding me, for elevating me, for fulfilling me.