A guest appearance


It’s not one month ago that I posted about my confidence that my future would find me—I just needed to be ready to receive.


Most nights since then, as I start the meditation that will inevitably lead to me falling asleep, I have held this in mind, willing myself to be open for whatever comes. “Get Into Receiving Mode” is the title of the guided meditation I find myself choosing most often; I had previously passed it over for fear it will be overly mercenary, but the language turns out to be gentle and broad enough to work for me.


When I was first diagnosed, my therapist told me to picture the crown of my head opening up to receive positive energy in the form of the stars my well-wishers sent. I call this image back to my mind now. While some nights I find myself picturing stars again, on other nights I find myself trusting the universe to deliver exactly what I need. Already I am seeing evidence of the right things manifesting professionally, in ways that seem too uncanny to be coincidence; this gives me confidence that if I allow myself to be open, good things will happen.


During daytime, things seem to be moving along more smoothly: the last pitch meeting is over, and I’m enjoying more sleep and the clarity and focus that comes along with it. At some point, Per notices that my TikTok viewings have started to surge again, and we watch as it climbs toward half a million views, slowing noticeably as it approaches. We’ve filmed another video, but after Per cuts it together, it feels too forced; so we can it and procrastinate about making the next one.


But a week ago last Friday, I got a message request on Facebook. At first, I think it’s a scam: he introduces himself as a producer of a show I’ve never seen and explains he’s seen my TikTok and found the story of my journey with stage 4 colon cancer touching and inspiring. But I keep reading, and by the time I get to his contact info, I realize it’s legit:

He’s inviting me to appear on the Tamron Hall Show and would like to know if I would be available to travel to film the following week.


WHAT. IS. HAPPENING???


When I am finally done with all my calls and Per with his, I connect with the producer live on the phone. This is when he explains that on the show, they’ll be giving me a makeover.


Wait. What is happening?


“A makeover?” I ask dubiously.


He rushes to explain, “It’s not a major makeover, just a little bit of one. It’s Tamron’s own glam squad that would be doing it.”


This doesn’t make me feel much better. “Okaaay,” I say. “So, for example, they aren’t going to cut off all my hair?”


“No, no,” he assures me. “Nothing like that.”


The whole thing strikes me as a little… off brand? My ego is twice popped: first by the fact that someone thinks I need a makeover, and then by his legal-heavy response when I ask about mentioning my blog (probably not). But the voice in my head tells me, “Throw the bowl, Gina.” And I hang up after agreeing to do it, assuming it is approved by the executive producer the following Monday.


Then I panic and grab the bowl back, texting him a link to my Substack and saying, “I want to be sure you know what you’re getting; I’m not sure it would be the traditional cancer-patient-had-a-hard-time story.”


His return text starts with an excerpt from my first post: “I spent the last four years engaged in the brutal reality of stripping back the person I tried to be, revealing at last who I really am.” He reiterates this is exactly what they want: someone who can bring hope, energy, and honesty to their viewers. I relax a little bit.


When I text the news to Tabitha, my former comms lead, her reaction to the makeover is exactly the same as mine. She confirms that I have probed with the right questions, and advises me to trust them to do the right thing.


But on Monday, when he calls to record the video that will set up my appearance, most of his questions feel like they lead to expected answers: yes, getting the diagnosis was devastating; yes, telling the kids was hard. I feel like I am flubbing it; my answers either feel way too surface or way too deep—I cringe when I hear myself say that treatment “felt like a penance”—and by the time I am done I am sure the video will make clear that I am not who they wanted.


So, I’m not surprised when the evening before I am booked to fly out, he calls, and I can hear the apology in his voice before he gets out a full sentence. At their afternoon executive review, Tamron saw my interview video, and she doesn’t think I am right for a makeover.

I glance over at my open suitcase, yet to be packed. “Glad I didn’t rush to do that,” I think to myself.


But he is still talking, and I tune back in just in time to hear him explain that she thinks my story will get lost if I am telling it over a makeover. She thinks that I am a “two-or-three-segment guest” and wants me to come back to record in December, when they can do a real interview and I can go into more depth about my journey and my blog.


He’s still apologizing about the change of plans, but I cannot hear him over the voice in my head, and it is saying:


THIS. THIS IS HAPPENING.

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