Landed

6 Apr

I told you I would write when I had something worthwhile to share. So here goes:

I (finally) landed a job! I accepted Wednesday. For months I have tried to assess my body, my energy, my chemobrain. My will to return was clear, but would I be too tired to wake in time for a 9 a.m. meeting and last until a 5 p.m. conference call? I think I can, I think I can.

The best part? The job is at Golin Harris in downtown Chicago, meaning that after three years I’ll finally live in the same state as Jimmy. It’s about time.

When I left my job near the White House and my apartment near the Pentagon the morning after I was diagnosed last year, I packed only one suitcase. I think that is the only time in my life I have grossly under-packed.

As I had the opportunity to tell Kerri Miller in an interview on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday, “You have to always be ready to have your life interrupted in a big way” when you’re a young adult with a (mega) cancer history.

Boy, did I mean that.  And not just for me, but for those close to me. Suddenly my dad devoted a two-hour drive to Mayo Clinic nearly every night after work; my friends confided less in me for fear I’d respond, “Get a real problem.” And unlike most interruptions, cancer lasts longer than it should, and longer than most realize.

These last months have been the hardest yet mentally. When you’re no longer going through treatment, no longer so visible, no longer so obviously sick. Figuring out how to transition back to work and not lose your healthcare in the process. Having an appetite to go out while still living at home with your parents, most of your friends in their city apartments with big-girl jobs two hours away. You can only hold people’s attention for so long, and you only want their attention for so long. Your hair starts to grow back. People assume you’re a hipster, not a cancer patient. People stare and wonder about your scars instead of look at you with empathy.

All that free time. I felt guilty for not making the most of it, reading too few books and watching too much Project Runway. Wasting time feels ungrateful.  As my new pen pal Suleika Jaouad, who entered the hospital this week for her own bone marrow transplant in the hopes of an MDS cure, said in her most recent blog post in The New York Times, “Since the diagnosis, my life has been a slow emergency, my world a waiting room.”

I’m sick of waiting around, yielding to the pace of cancer. I even gel my hair into a purposeful faux-hawk (you know I can’t pull off a total mohawk) these days to make my hair look like “I meant to.” (sure, photo to come)

I’m ready to get back my momentum. I’m shutting the door on the cancer crawl.

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22 Responses to “Landed”

  1. erika hanson brown April 6, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Jenna…
    I LOVE it!!! (Bet you didn’t know that my very FIRST client was Tom Harris, the co-founder of Golin-Harris.)
    Have a great time. I look forward to connecting with you in CHICAGO!!!
    LOVE to you,
    erika

    • Jenna Langer April 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Crazy! Please do let me know whenever you’re in the city.

  2. biggirlsdontrun April 6, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Good for you, lady! Great post and good luck in Chicago!!

    Redhead power!

    -Lacey Pittman

  3. Lucia April 6, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    So happy for you, Jenna! Your new colleagues and clients are incredibly lucky to have you. xoxo, Lucia

  4. Jeanette Merkel April 6, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I just want to say what an inspiration it has been reading your postings. I was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast cancer on November 12, 2010. Though I am now all done with treatment, having my hair grow back in and preparing for reconstruction surgery I can relate to your posting. I feel guilty when I am not doing something because I have this new life to live. I think people look at me and say she actually cut her hair like that! I no longer look like a cancer patient but inside I still feel like one. No one can see my scars. They are under my shirt. I wear a prosthetic breast which only reminds me of my long journey. There is still the emotional side of it also. No one can see those scars. All in all I get up every morning and put that smile on my face because after all is said and done I am still alive. I am still here to take care of my five beautiful girls and my husband. When I am feeling a bit of why me pity it only takes a look at my kids to bring back that smile and that get up and go that I need. Thank you for your postings.

    • Jenna Langer April 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      Jeanette, thank you for your words. Really honored that you followed my blog. I hope you continue to get better.

  5. Andi Teggart (@luckyandi) April 6, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Yay! What an exciting opportunity for you friend! :) I love the quote you shared: “You have to always be ready to have your life interrupted in a big way” You are quite the inspiratio.

  6. Karen Torseth April 6, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Three cheers to you Jenna! Congrats on the new job! You are on your way to a year full of blessings…wishing you all the best!

  7. dcboathouserestaurant April 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Congrats Jenna!

  8. Carrie Webb April 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Jenna, people like YOU are why I do what I do. Congratulations on the job in Chicago! I am an easy 2.5 train ride away…just saying. Still anticipating the day you get to meet Miss Wonderful – are you counting down the days yet?

    • Jenna Langer April 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      :) When I’m missing the cornfields and ready for a train ride through them, I’ll let you know! Yes – but we may push it off (for good reasons). Details to come…

  9. Heather Cable April 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    OOOOOHHHH YEEEEEAHHHH! Congrats, Jenna. We of course miss you in DC, but couldn’t be happier for you.

  10. Connie April 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Congratulations on your new job!! We are so happy for you! If you have time for visit before you head to Chicago, we’d love to see you. As always, great post — thanks for sharing!

  11. Denise, RN April 7, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Congratulations on your new job! You go, girl! Go forth and take it on. You and cancer are not “one.”

  12. Fran Albright April 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Jenna; i AM SO GLAD to hear of your news. I must confess: Ellen had told me, Jimmy had called as he was excited.
    Keep looking up, and good luck, so if you collapse on the couch each evening,m you can only hope to get stronger.
    Happy Easter.
    Fran

    • Jenna Langer April 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Thanks, Fran! Your blanket looks beautiful in my living room :)

  13. Vicki Barrilleaux April 9, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Jenna, you are a remarkable young women and I can’t wait to see where lifes journey takes you. I’m blessed to call you friend.

  14. David I. Leavitt (@LeavittDC) April 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Congrats on the job!

  15. Jane April 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi Jenna,
    I am the friend of Suleika and her family who shared your blog with them, and just wanted to let you know how fantastically grateful I am for everything you wrote over the past year that I was later able to share first with Suleika’s mom and then with her; Now I’m delighted to be able to congratulate you on your new job and to let you know also what an amazing “multiplier effect” your writing has had although I guess you know that already. So keep up the good work, and hope we will all meet in person some day!
    Jane

    • Jenna Langer April 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Jane – I’m so glad you wrote, and that you stumbled upon my blog. Thank you for connecting Suleika and me. I too hope we can all rendezvous someday! Maybe when Suleika is back in Paris and we need an excuse :)

      • Jane April 20, 2012 at 9:17 am #

        rendezvous in Paris? Sounds great!

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