gestation (or, time to make the donuts)

Today was huge. Huge.

When I got diagnosed (with stage IV metastatic melanoma, for anyone new tuning in) and moved home, my life was put on pause. I mean, I lived, I socialized with my peeps here and I ate good meals and I played poker with my other moms and I wrote like a muthafukker.  But the ‘job’ factor was removed from the equation. My job, for the time being, was to beat the shit out of cancer. In some ways, my career and personal goals seemed more important than ever to achieve… but in some ways they also felt a little arbitrary. When you’re not sure if you’re gonna live to see another birthday, thinking long term almost feels, I dunno, like jinxy or something.

As soon as I got that first complete response, and I started to wrap my brain around – first, the fact that i was going to be around for a while, and then all of the options for how my life might look going forward, I knew that this was not time to take the safe route. At one point, I had blogged about the possibility of moving upstate, possibly taking a teaching job to sustain myself. My friend, Jenny-O, gave me a good, long ‘risk and reward and hardship and worth it and one life make it count’ talking to, and I knew. Now was the time to tell safety to take a hike… when you’re forty with ample experience as both a teacher and a waiter, you will always have one of those somethings to fall back on. But before falling back, why not try moving forward? I was in a free, comfortable, supportive living situation with enough savings to sustain me… time to make the fuggin’ donuts.

Just days after my last blog post, I began working as part of a small film collective in Bed Sty. It’s not a paid gig, but the projects we are developing at the moment are killer, and we’ve already started to shoot a few pieces.  I believe in the projects and, more importantly, I believe in the people I’m collaborating with.  I couldn’t have fallen in to a more perfect situation to help me get my ducks in a row, and I’m positive something we’re working on will stick to the wall.

One of the first things we did when we were brought together by the powerhouse of a human who spearheaded the collective was to each pitch a bunch of ideas for shorts, features, web and tv series and docs. As I was brainstorming the docs section of my pitch, I wrote the word ‘Cancer.’  In the weeks that followed, it became more and more clear to me that not only did I want to document my journey with cancer, I needed to.  Both for me and for all of the people who are going to get diagnosed and scour the internet as I did only to find the most grim of statistics. There’s a level of hope now that never existed before. Why not shine a light on it?

As soon as I made the decision to make this film, the universe (and a handful of angels) started to conspire.  The wheels started turning and they have yet to slow down. I don’t feel comfortable talking too much about the specifics on it, but I can say with confidence that we are making this film, and doing so with a dream team and some real enthusiasm from people who have the power to help us realize its potential… not to mention the allegiance of my other dream team over at NYU.

Which brings me to why today was huge.  Earlier this week, I had my third set of scans, a PET CT marking nine months in treatment. Nine months. Went by like a sneeze. I could have made a kid. (well, actually, I couldn’t have. sadly, this is an ability cancer robbed me of).  Today also, miraculously, marked our first day of shooting. We decided since enough puzzle pieces were in place (or at least placed close enough to the right corners of the picture) that we should capture this milestone… the big ‘scan results’ appointment.

Having the camera there really added a bizarre dimension to what was already bound to be an emotional clusterfuck of a day, though having to think about and plan for the logistics of the day at least helped me to depart here and there from the ‘scanxiety,’ as a friend of mine dubbed it.  The hours that led up to actual face time with Doc Wilson were pretty hectic –  though my producing partner is a close friend, an absolute joy to work with and i’m convinced she is capable of literally any task that is thrown at her, it was hectic all the same, simply because it was new territory (that fortunately, in the future, we have GPS for).  Thank the lordy that my sis was there to hold my hand and read my mind and ride the emotional rollercoaster from the first car with me.

And then we were in my exam room, and the camera was rolling, and Melissa and Crystal came in and there was a round of hugs, and then, without missing a beat, they delivered the news that I continue to have no evidence of disease. Clean scans. No tumors. The paper with the scan results read:

Sciency tumor name 1: Completely Resolved.

Sciency tumor name 2: Completely Resolved.

I have yet to see the footage of my face receiving that news, but I imagine that I look pretty emotionless. It always takes me some time to digest (and actually believe) good news. It’s a defense that a lot of people with cancer just naturally develop, I’m guessing. But now, almost twelve hours later, I’ve pinched myself enough to know I’m definitely awake and it’s all definitely real.  I’m very excited to be alive for this next chapter. I’m starting to think it’s gonna be a really good one.


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16 Responses to gestation (or, time to make the donuts)

  1. Bonnie says:

    Wow Jen, I took a breath as I was reading your blog even though I new the results of the scan this afternoon. I can feel your anxiety as I am in the room with you in spirit and wish I can wrap my arms around you. I did not know you were going to shoot your first scene today,,boy that took a lot of courage on your part, your a strong women who can do great things with all that you are going through, stay strong, I’m behind you.
    Love you so much
    Aunt Bonnie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Groundfish says:

    Yeah! Love you! Best, K.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cindy says:

    Jen.. I am reading this knowing the results but with tears in my eyes. I love u so incredibly much. I have loved this last year getting to reconnect as adults. U are the best God mother to my daughter and such a great friend and support to me. I’m so proud of u. U deserve all the good that has come your way. I love u. Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rita says:

    Love this! I am so happy you are free! Enjoy your new career, you always wanted to write plays. All this made your dreams come true. I wish you the best of luck always! Love you always! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hilary says:

    Let the rainbows shine and the birds sing louder!!!!!! Hollllllla!!!!!!!,xoxooxoxxooxooxxox

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sheryl says:

    Great News for you and your family… happy for all


  7. Sandi Porter says:

    Loved this whole post! Way to LIVE your life Jen! Go for it.


  8. Jennifer Borgen Price says:

    Amazing news Jen! Love you girl! Can’t wait to hear about more about your future endeavors!


  9. Sadie Mullin says:

    Congrats well done. Delighted you are restored to good health. Thank God and St. Anthony. I wish you peace . Go girl. Sadie


  10. Jarod Timmerman says:

    GreatNews!!…so happy for you – much Robe


  11. Nu says:

    So so so so happy for you! All my love Nuala xxx


  12. Barbara Mosca says:

    Since the night I met you you, you’ve had a great poker face (with your health & the cards) which is awe-inspiring to me. You faced a dire prognosis with courage and a smile. The world is yours to grab by the balls and conquer with your heart’s desire.


  13. Kelly says:

    So awesome! So happy for you – and for the rest of the world since we get to have you around, happy and healthy and ready to go get it. 🙂


  14. lucy says:

    LOVE! Miracles do happen it seems! And I couldn’t have wished for a better one!!! xxxxx


  15. Charlene Senzon says:

    There aren’t words that can describe how I feel about your results except Thank God. This is just the beginning of your better life. As it’s been said A better Busan. Jen everything that happens in the future is from all your hard work and belief in your future. I’m on the edge of my seat…I can’t wait for the next chapter. I love you.


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