Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Jen Hodson, 30, currently living in Baltimore, Maryland. She was diagnosed with
HER2/ER/PR+ breast cancer in November 2016 at age 29. She underwent six
rounds of chemotherapy and 18 rounds of intravenous targeted therapy while
working full-time. As of May 2017, she is in remission. She enjoys hanging with her dog,
Chewie, drinking scotch, running and losing myself in video games.
There’s a lot of staring that happens when you’re going through cancer treatment. Whether it’s the hair loss, the surgical changes, the tired and distant look in the eyes, people are wondering just how sick you are, and it causes quite a bit of trepidation.
Throughout treatment I chose to hide my bald head with beanies, or the occasional fancy scarf, and dress my bloated body in hoodies and leggings (thank goodness it was winter).
When it came time for surgery, and sadly, spring, I knew that my days of hiding under my clothes were limited. The Baltimore humidity was coming in hot (heh) and the layers I was depending on wouldn’t mix well with the heat and hot flashes.
The “big” surgery I’m referring to, of course, is the bilateral nipple sparing mastectomy with expander reconstruction (say that 5 times fast) that took place in May of 2017.
I had taken two weeks off from work and decided that I would treat myself and my boyfriend to a baseball game (Go Orioles!) towards the end of my recovery. I was feeling well, and the weather was glorious: warm with a hint of breeze. I recall panicking about my outfit, wondering how I would brave the outside world without my trusty wool beanies or chunky sweaters, and settled on a cute little fan outfit.
I covered my scantly grown hair (peaking out around the ears) with my boyfriend’s baseball hat, and threw a fitted team t-shirt over my newly vacated chest space. I had worn that outfit before all the cancer stuff, I knew I looked good. So imagine my surprise as we arrive at the ballpark box office, ready to buy tickets, and the clerk pauses for a moment as she finalizes the purchase. I could see it happening, the confusion, the uncertainty of the person in front of her. Was I sick? Did I have alopecia? Do I have boobs? What is going on there? Are those eyebrows?
I sighed, prepared for some sort of sympathy line coming my way, but instead she handed over the tickets and cheerily exclaimed, “Enjoy the game gents!”
We smiled, reflexively, said “thank you” and slowly walked away. “Did she just say gents?” I asked Wes, “Yep. She most certainly did.”
Maybe I wasn’t looking as cute as I thought I was, but I was certainly looking handsome.