This past year has proved to be extremely difficult for so many people (myself included). I really did not want to do a birthday post, but I really just needed to try and consolidate all the chaos occupying my mind as this trip around the sun comes to an end. Pre 2020 many of our everyday words weren’t even part of our vocabulary…pandemic, quarantine, lockdown, and of course the C word – COVID. For me, another C word became part of my vocabulary – Cancer. I wasn’t prepared for it at all – cancer was a far away creature in a far away land effecting far away beings. Then, there I was on July 6 – cancer had taken ahold of my body and invaded my perfect little never ever land. Along with the C word (both of the C words mentioned above) comes the D word – death. Another word that crossed my mind this past year way sooner that I would have liked it to. For as long as I can remember cancer and death have walked hand in hand pledging to each other till death do us part.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment during COVID definitely had it’s challenges. If you haven’t read my caring bridge journals documenting my story, I’ll give you a short background. After having some abnormal bleeding and some lower back and leg pain, I went to see my general practitioner to find out I had a double kidney infection. After going through the antibiotics and still having issues, I decided I needed to go see an OBGYN. I had not seen one in three or four years and I did not realize that most of them are booked out months in advance. I finally came across an OBGYN who could see me that week and lets just say her bedside manner was sub par. After a few appointments with her, I was called back into get the results of my colposcopy. Due to COVID, I had to go alone. I walked into the exam room, facemask on and sat on the exam table waiting for her to enter.
“You have cancer and it is somewhat advanced. You have a long journey ahead of you, but you’re young and healthy and so I think you are going to be okay. From here you will be seeing an OB oncologist who will be contacting you this week. I am going to leave you in here to collect your thoughts, and when you’re ready go see the nurses at the front to check you out,” said the doctor. Cue waterworks and complete panic. I honestly can’t remember the next 30 minutes as shock had taken over my brain and body. This is the exact reason you need someone with you when you receive this sort of news! I couldn’t think of one question to ask, not a single one. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and imagined what I was going to look like bald. (I am leaving the doctor’s name out of this for obvious reasons, but if you’re local and want to avoid her, reach out and I’ll be happy to provide her name).
Within the week, Ascension Sacred Heart Cancer Center was in touch. I will NEVER forget my first visit with the oncologist. This man I just met seconds before had his hands and utensils all the way inside of my vagina and ass, was covered in my blood and telling me I have cancer and that I will never have children. Cervical cancer bleeds A LOT (hence the covered in blood bit). Oh yeah – and again, I was all alone. Awful, right? I was starting to get used to feeling so violated, even more awful! From this point, I cleaned myself up and we met in a conference room where we discussed my 5cm tumor and treatment plans. Of course we all had our masks on (me, the doctor and a nurse), but I remember so clearly just wanting to see this doctor’s face. Strange that I was so focused on that instead of the fact that I had a 2in tumor inside of me, but for some reason all I could focus on was wanting to see this man’s face. Perhaps it would make everything feel more real and believable if I could actually see his lips saying the things I was hearing. I think I was still in complete denial at this point.
Okay – back to my original point of writing this. This past year (31 years old) was a complete shit storm for me (and the world) and there were so many days where all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and scream at God for completely fucking me over. I found out very quickly that this was not the answer. Once I was able to accept my reality, everything changed for me. Everything that had happened to me before this moment in the oncologist’s office had prepared me not only to receive this news but to be stronger and braver than the cancer that had occupied my body. MY BODY. A body that has allowed me travel all over the world. A support system of family and friends as far reaching as New Zealand and Singapore. A headspace that has always lived and thrived in positivity and optimism. If anyone was going to get through this, it was me. The universe had provided me the tools I needed so I pulled out my handbook and I utilized every last one of them. Being stronger and braver was not easy and it’s still not easy, but it is incredibly enlightening. I have said this before and most people who have gone through cancer treatment will say this as well – WE ARE SO RESILIENT!
I am overjoyed to leave plenty of last year behind. However, my 31-year old body is also keeping my fertility and so much more of my womanhood that I wasn’t ready to part with yet. I am still learning how to live with the aftermath and side effects of my treatment. But I am also moving forward in life with a new way of thinking, a new way of living and a new way of loving (others and myself). The point of all of this being whatever you are going through, there is a bigger picture, there is a happier chapter and trust the Universe to have your back. Navigating towards positivity and new beginnings isn’t easy, but it is the only way! Let’s go, 32!
Some very high and low days during my 31st trip around the sun! 🙂