Brian Wogensen is a high school English teacher and department chair at a private school for girls in Los Angeles. In 2005, his wife, Liz Ganem, was diagnosed with breast cancer, five weeks after learning that she was pregnant. Seven years after the successful completion of treatment—and the healthy birth of their son—Liz was diagnosed with and treated for a new breast cancer.
How does one live with a diagnosis of incurable, metastatic cancer? How does one move forward with life goals and plans when the likelihood of a future has been deemed uncertain and tenuous.
Today I’m speaking with Jenny Pagliaro, singer and songwriter from the band Roses and Cigarettes, who—after initial treatment for Stage II Breast Cancer in 2015—was diagnosed one year later with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Our conversation takes place one week after Jenny had a PET scan that revealed her cancer to have receded by 90% compared to her previous scan. Jenny talks about living on an emotional rollercoaster during in the past two years, from initial diagnoses and completion of treatment, to a diagnoses of Metastatic Breast Cancer and receiving an estimate of six months to live, to this moment of hope for more time. She also talks about complicated interactions with family and friends who want to help her and the competing emotions behind wanting to maintain independence while knowing that she is reliant on the support of others.