Quick Bio: Jennifer Garam is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Some of her favorite pieces include a personal essay/reported article about how to grow out gray hair, a satire piece about if people had honest first date conversations, and a blog post about how to keep writing when no one gives a shit.
Beyond the bio: “At the beginning of this past October, one month after my 43rd birthday, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. This came as a complete shock. I was in what I thought was perfect health, and had basically just had stomach pains and bloating for a week. Also, I thought that there was no cancer in my family and just didn’t think I was at risk for ever getting it. After I was diagnosed I dug a little deeper and discovered that there was a history of cancer in my family. Additionally, I got a genetic test and the results showed that I’m BRCA1 positive.
This experience has obviously turned my life upside down and prompted me to reevaluate my priorities and overhaul my entire lifestyle. I’m not working during my treatment so I can focus all my energy on my health, treatment, and healing, and my incredible friend started a GoFundMe for me. Getting this diagnosis and going through this treatment has showed me that I have an inner strength I never knew I had.”
2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Posting on social media. Before being diagnosed, I had an ambivalent relationship with Facebook and Instagram; being in my early 40s, single, and struggling financially and with my career, scrolling through social media often prompted feelings of compare and despair — and occasionally rage! A few weeks after my diagnosis, when I’d had some time to process the shock and adjust to my new reality, I knew I wanted to document my experiences with ovarian cancer in some way. Posting on Instagram and Facebook feels just right.
3. Jam of the minute: When I got my head shaved, my awesome hairdresser and her best friend, who also worked at the salon and was going through treatment for breast cancer at the time, made a fast-motion video of the process. I edited in music and the song I picked was “breathin'” by Ariana Grande, and I think of that as my theme song. The night before and morning of my surgery, I listened to the Gospel song “Soul’s Anthem (It Is Well)” by Tori Kelly on repeat to quell my fear (um, terror).
4. Thing I miss: My appetite! I’m still recovering from surgery and haven’t fully gotten it back yet.
5. 80s crush: Early 80s: Ricky Schroder; Mid-80s: After seeing the movie Lucas, I wrote 12 letters to Corey Haim. (He never wrote back.)
6. Current crush: I recently had a crush, since being diagnosed, but ultimately it did not feel good. I had a great time hanging out with him, and he’s very handsome, but in the end he kind of disappeared. As someone with a lifelong pattern of chasing unavailable, avoidant men, I think I need to stop the crushes and the unrequited pining.
7. Will whine about: One of my biggest pet peeves is when I go to a coffee shop and all the tables are taken, but there’s only one person at each table and there would be room for me to join. But all the people have their heads buried in a device so no one can see that I’m standing there. Eventually I just ask if I can sit with someone, but it makes me sad that people don’t look around and see who needs help right in front of them.
8. Will wine about: I actually don’t drink. I have a very low tolerance and get sick from alcohol very easily.
9. Best thing that happened recently: My surgery was successful and they removed 100% of the cancer visible to the naked eye! Now I just need to go back for 9 more weeks of chemo to blast the microscopic bits.
10. Looking forward to: Being cancer-free!