I’ll never forget the moment I heard those four words, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer”. I don’t think anyone forgets that moment. No matter how silent the world around you got, or how blurry your mind instantly went, you never forget receiving that heart crushing, world flipping news.
I was 23 and living in my own little happy-go-lucky, care free world. I had just moved half way across the country with my boyfriend, adopted a kitty whom I now adore, & started my first real job after college. This was my time to shine! I’m supposed to be in my prime, right!? Well, cancer had other plans.
I’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle and didn’t have many symptoms before my diagnosis, so it came as a huge shock to me. I had lost my menstrual cycle for about three months but still had all the same symptoms of a regular cycle – bloating, lower back pain, mild fatigue. The third month those symptoms hit hard and lasted for over two weeks, so I decided to make an appointment with my GYN. I just felt like something wasn’t quite right.
During the pelvic exam she found a large mass near my left ovary. She referred me to an ultrasound technician, and after getting those results, immediately referred me to a Gynecologic Oncologist. That’s when things started happening really fast.
The GYN ONC said we should go straight into surgery as that’s the only way to diagnose and stage ovarian cancer. Everyone assured me it was probably endometriosis because I was “too young to have cancer”. News flash: cancer doesn’t discriminate! I soon found that out when I hazily woke up from surgery to hear those four words. The four words that changed my life forever.
Since then I’ve been through six months of chemotherapy, a complete hysterectomy, multiple CT scans, a blood transfusion, countless needle pricks, endless pelvic exams, a couple rectal exams, and now hormone therapy.
My battle isn’t over, but somehow I still feel like I’ve come out on the other side. Cancer took away my hair, my self confidence, and at one point, my entire physical identity. But it’s also taught me SO MANY BEAUTIFUL THINGS! I finally believe the quote that says another woman’s beauty does not rob you of your own. Because beauty truly does radiate from the inside out! And there are so many more important things than how you appear on the outside.
Cancer makes you look at small moments in life and really see them as if for the first time. Or maybe you’re just seeing these moments through different eyes. Because cancer changes the way you see the whole entire world. My actions now have more purpose and my life has so much more meaning.
It’s so odd. There’s this thing inside of me trying to kill me and all I want to do is get rid of it. Yet, this thing has made me want to live like never before – to live freely and love deeply. It’s taught me patience and humility. And somehow, in some weird way, I am so incredibly grateful for this newfound freedom.