Friday, February 4, 2011

Want to Forget Cancer?

Go to the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Today for a full 5 hours, I forgot I had Cancer. Cancer did not have an invite to the show-and so she begrudgingly left my body- temporarily allowing me to experience one of the best days I have ever had in Chicago.

My friend Jill Salama is a producer at Oprah and she reached out to me yesterday asking if I was interested in attending. My immediate reaction was- hell yes. Then I started worrying- what if my body couldn't handle it? Would I be stuck in a large crowd? Would I have to wear a mask? Would I have to leave midway through the taping? Would I become dizzy and faint?

There were a lot of what ifs- some of which were realistic and deserved attention, and others that were downright destructive. I am quickly learning that I need to control my tendency to become consumed by what ifs because they more often than not are harmful.

The what if that deserved attention was-could my immune system handle a crowd.

Yesterday when I went in for blood work I was told my levels were up and that I actually had an immune system. My white blood count went from a 1.1. to a 3.7 in 4 days.  For those amateurs out there ( don't worry- I am included in this category) the wbc range goes from a  3.5 which is low, to a 10.5 which is high.  On Thursday, I was told I had a 3.7 which albeit was low but was on the up and up!

I wrote my nurse to see what she thought and she wrote me back immediately. "Jenna, go enjoy yourself".

So that's exactly what I did.

Today, my best friend Dan and I arrived at Harpo Studios, were seated front row center, danced on the stage, sang our hearts out, chatted with Tim Gunn from Project Runway, and were serenaded by Jennifer Hudson.

I laughed, I cried, and my face hurt from smiling.

I can't even try to sum up all of the memorable moments Dan and I experienced during today's taping because there were just too many. However, here are a few stand out moments that I must share.

For the first time Jennifer spoke with Oprah about her family's tragedy. In one night she lost her mother, her brother and her nephew. Their lives were taken suddenly, tragically and without warning. Her grief was profound, and she clearly is still struggling with their loss. She mentioned how she chooses to live her life fully, always hoping to please them and to make them proud.

If anyone is showing the world how to live it is Jennifer Hudson.

She has reclaimed her life this year by bringing in new life with the birth of her son, and by losing 80 pounds. She is in the best shape of her life and has made her health a priority.

As I sit here now thinking about her story it is hard not to feel inspired by her strength. In the face of adversity and sadness, she rose above. At a time when she could have retreated, she sang louder. Jennifer- your resilience is remarkable and your story will serve as motivation for my fight.

Before the show started,  Oprah came out and chatted with the audience for awhile to help pass the time. We somehow got on to talking about lipsticks-and how she feels lipstick can brighten up even the darkest of days.

I came close to raising my hand, to admitting to the audience and to Oprah that I was fighting Cancer and that lipstick has become my mood stabilizer of choice. I came close to sharing it, but fought the urge. Today was not about Cancer. Today was about enjoying life, living it fully, and laughing all the way home.

I look forward to more days where  I can live loudly, and where Cancer is but an afterthought.

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