Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spread Love

Surrendering is not something I do naturally. I am strong willed, so much so that I often surprise myself. When I became pregnant with Coady I was advised by my University faculty to take a year off. They suggested how tired I would be, and how stressful it would get balancing academic and domestic arts. Less than one week after giving birth to Coady, I was back in school. Determined to finish my degree, I sat through classes perched on my exercise ball while Dave walked the halls with our newborn son. Dave would quietly bring Coady into the class so I could nurse him and all the while I didn't bat an eye. I graduated in December with the rest of my class.

You see, what the faculty advisors didn't understand was that I was an exceptional student.
I'm about to show my doctors, that I am an exceptional patient.

The drive was quiet, on our way to Victoria last Wednesday. I spent a lot of time looking out the window trying to grasp the surreal nature of my current reality. As we climbed over the Malahat, I thought to myself, “I need a sign, give me a sign that today will be okay”. And then I thought, “show me a red tree, if everything is going to be okay today, show me a red tree.” As we drove I watched intently. Not a red tree in sight. As we rounded a corner I turned my head and looked out Dave's window and low and behold there was a driveway lined with maple trees. Green tree, green tree, green tree, green tree, red tree, green tree, green tree... I'm sure Dave heard my sigh of relief. I settled back into my seat contented for a moment until I admittedly acknowledged my cheat. It's freaking October, there are red trees everywhere. I was going to need a bigger sign. I began to focus, I watched intently as we moved into the city. Just as we approached the cancer clinic and my hope was beginning to fade I glimpsed out my window one more time, desperate for anything that looked remotely promising. A large white delivery truck was parked along the sidewalk, as my eye continued to the back end I noticed two words had been spray painted in black. To my disbelief, the sign read “SPREAD LOVE”.
“Did you see that!” I exclaimed to Dave. “Did you see what that truck said?” I then gave him the run down of my thought process. “Isn't that crazy?” I asked him.
“It's not crazy”, he replied calmly, “it just means you're growing”.
Yeah, that's Dave, he's kind of amazing that way.

Our visit with the oncologist was sobering to say the least. It was easy to recognize the disappointment in my doctors eyes when he walked into the room. He was just as unhappy to see us as we were to see him. After a brief examination that involved lots of tapping and pressing, he gave us his plan. Hormone therapy. Palliative therapy. Palliative, now there's a word that will bring you to your knees. Menopause at 31. Sometimes I find that doctors seem removed from the meaning of the words that they use. They throw around terms like menopause and sterility as easily as hiccups and indigestion. There is no cure, but we can treat it as a chronic disease. No cure.

I've had some time to think about his options and this Friday, I have an appointment with him at 11:00. I can't begin to explain the courage it's going to take to look into this doctor's eyes and tell him that I do not wish to take the hormone therapy, nor can I explain the strength I will need to tell him that quality of life is more important to me that quantity. It's difficult to portray with words the bravery required to go against the mainstream and look for alternatives but I'm sure the words will come. The truth is, it's difficult being exceptional.


Mom said...

You are exceptional and have taught us life lessons of love and courage that will help us today and in the future. May love and courage be with you on this new journey. Love and prayers for you and your boys.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing, amazing, person Jenn Zahavich! You continue to inspire me on a daily are exceptional in every sense of the word and I couldn't love you more or be any prouder of you if I tried. Exceptional indeed!I Love you, Kris

Kate F said...

You are amazing. You have so many people with you on this journey. Keep spreading your love.

Anonymous said...

...there are no words more powerful and inspiring than brings tears to my eyes...maybe someday I'll be just a part of the person you already can hope.
Kim C.

Anonymous said...

You are exceptional...and you do it with such grace. Only you can make us smile through our tears, when reading your blog. I'm so amazed at the courage you have.
Expecting exceptional miracles to come your way.
Love Carol P

Tracy Cameron said...

I believe exceptional things are coming your way ;-) You make me stop and think about the bigger picture in life - thank you so much for that!
I love your writing... when I see you have posted on your blog I can't click the link fast enough to read it! Even if it's about to make me late for work ;-)
Hope today is a fantastic day for you in this great sunshine!!!!

Always thinking of you, Jenn!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I know what you mean when they say words like Palliative, I work for Dept of Health in PEI, and I work for Palliative and I know how crushing those words are when they are said to someone. I encourage you to be strong and and have hope, you are inspiring.

May you love each day and enjoy your family to the fullest.

Jenifer Nichol (Duncan)

Lori Gard said...

You are a beautiful writer, and your message is full of hope for us all. Thank you for seeing that life is worth living well, and for sharing with us about this life journey you and your family are taking.

Toni Dunne said...

Keep being as exceptional as you are!! We could all benefit from spreading more love. It is in all of us, for all of us. I just began reading your blog today, and I read it all. It is a beautiful and inspiring path you walk. Thank-you sincerely for allowing us to accompany you on your personal journey.

Tammy Garrett said...


You are truly exceptional and that is most evident eventhough I have never met you. Everywhere I look or go in the valley people are fundraising for you and holding events in your honor....exceptional

Tammy Garrett

lisalou said...

I love you. You stubborn, exceptional, wise, hot little woman you!

Marg said...

Hi Jenn; I saw an ad on the billboard at the Shell station in North River PEI yesterday as I drove by, a party at Emyvale. Then I understood why Jenn Brooks Facebook invite was on my e-mail. (From the "horsey" crowd here on PEI) I've read some of your blog and I am touched with the love that is flowing towards you. I am a survivor and counting after 20 some years and I believe in your belief of quality not quantity. Keep positive and know many, many folks are sending strength. Marg

Anonymous said...

You are strong and beautiful. You have the courage to continue being exceptional. Today, know that love is covering you and your family.

Shannon said...

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.

When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad... You should do what I do.

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.

You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you will be the girl who'll decide where you'll go. Oh the places you'll go.

Dr. Seuss

Little M said...



I think God is talking to you :)

Jennifer Hedican said...

Shine brightly and fight to win girl.
You are so powerfully loved.
You will win

Anonymous said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say, except thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for allowing others to glimpse into your life and being able to see what truly is important in life: love, kindness, smiles, hugs and constancy.

Blessings to you and lovely family

Lorraine AT course said...

I heard you on CBC radio late last week and was intrigued by your story. I've spent this morning preparing for a "Thanks" Giving Feast with my family later today. As we've dressed the turkey, peeled vegetables and made pies, I've taken little breaks to read you blog and reflect on your journey ...and my own. (I'm listening to Evita as well..also inspiring.) Somebody suggested reading your story today was a downer and I explained that that was not so. Every breath in and out is a blessing, as you are proving. We take it all for granted. The only reasonable reason for our existance in this world is to love and care for each other. I only hope to spread a bit of the love you have. Best wishes!

Buddha & The Raven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Buddha & The Raven said...

Wow- I don't know you, but I love you. Your outlook and attitude take me down at my knees. I fancy myself as a positive, outgoing, glass is half full kinda girl, but you are a force to be reckoned with. I was turned onto you by my friend Karen who lives over on Van Isle and generally anything that inspires her is guaranteed to inspire me. She was so right about you. I am enjoying your learning from you and your journey. You are making me a better person, a better a mommy and a better wife. You know on Oprah when O finds someone that was anonymously inspired by one person's story... well if we were on her show I would be walking out from back stage right about now and thanking you for your candid courage and your willingness to let us all in to your life. You are a bright light in this world and your beauty has blinded me.

Tiffany Haziza