Thriving With A Cancer Diagnosis …
I was diagnosed with Stage 1A Grade 2 Ovarian Cancer in January 2021.
Debilitating cramps, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, pins and needles in my hands and arms, and even a temporary loss of vision around the time of my menstrual cycle triggered my health crisis just four months prior to that 🥺.
Ultrasounds picked up a mass on my left ovary along with endometriosis.
Both came as a shock to me.
What started off as a routine GP consult quickly escalated to a referral to a gynaecologist and then a gynae-oncologist.
Next step … a hysterectomy.
Again another shock 😱.
I was 46 at the time and a mum to a beautiful 9 year old girl who I absolutely love and adore.
I’d always prided myself on clean living … making healthy eating choices, exercising, and as a life coach ensuring I prioritised my emotional and mental care.
So this was a huge slap in the face for me 😫.
And yet it was undeniably still happening …
I knew deep down that something wasn’t right so I made the agonising decision to go ahead with the surgery.
Because I couldn’t continue living the way that I was living.
It was only a few days each month that I experienced the unbearable pain and throwing up. But that was enough for me to realise that it was robbing me of my quality of life.
I didn’t want to live this way. The pain only seemed to be getting progressively worse …
And the only way to know what was happening inside of me was to get it all out.
So I had a cracker of a start to 2021 with a major 2.5 hour operation and a 5 day stay in hospital …
I was told by my surgeon that they would do an initial pathology test on a sample of the mass during surgery … and based on the result, they would make the call to keep or also remove my right ovary.
I remember waking up from the surgery feeling sick and groggy. I was being wheeled to my room by the nurses and I could hear them calling my name. I immediately threw up.
I remember my partner being there in the room and placing his hand on my forehead, telling me that it’s good news as they left my right ovary in.
During my hospital stay, my surgeon came to see me and confirmed that the initial pathology had revealed the tumour was borderline malignant which meant no further intervention or treatments would be needed after this.
I remember a huge wave of relief washing over me …
So when I turned up for my follow up appointment with him several weeks later and he told me in a very matter of fact tone of voice that it was Ovarian Cancer, I was stunned 😮.
Devastated 😢. Numb 🥴.
I could see this mirrored in my partner’s eyes as well.
He told me that I would need to see an oncologist as chemotherapy was recommended as a precaution.
Biopsies around my pelvic region and lymph nodes had come back clear and they had removed the mass safely and intact but they wanted to be sure they had not missed any microscopic cancer cells that could still be floating around in my body.
I’ve never been great with drugs. Anaesthetic makes me want to hurl and the pain relief drugs gave me waking nightmares in hospital.
So the thought of flooding my body with toxic chemicals designed to kill everything including healthy cells horrified me.
And yet I also knew that chemo was an established treatment protocol and has helped many cancer patients.
My oncologist was fabulous. She could tell that I was informed and well-researched as well as in tune with my body.
She told me that there was no right or wrong decision. That no one would be judging me and I had to make a decision based on what I felt was best for me. Weigh up the risks versus benefits.
As a life coach, I know how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people … who can lift you up when you need it, be your objective sounding board, and your cheer squad at the same time 💞.
And that a health crisis like this is an opportunity to re-prioritise your life.
To let go of old baggage … unresolved issues from the past and friendships that drain or are an encumbrance.
And on the flip side, to strengthen the ones that are true, free up energy and space for new relationships that are more aligned with who you are, and enforce boundaries that have been long overdue … 💪
So I made my decision.
I pulled together my team of ‘healers’.
I counted my blessings for those who were ‘there’ for me and instinctively reached out to offer support … whether it was through a kind message, a thoughtful gift, a home cooked meal, or a caring phone call or visit.
I was humbled by the random acts of kindness from people who barely knew me.
I also noticed the ones who did none of these and stayed silent … and let them go with gratitude.
I stood my ground and enforced my boundaries … something that I should have done a long time ago.
I came to certain realisations about myself … and progressively broke free of the deep conditioning and old beliefs that no longer served me from my past.
I prioritised my self-care 💚💙.
I embraced Me in all my perfect imperfections.
Now let me be clear.
I did not do this overnight. It’s a work in progress.
I’ve shouted and screamed in anger at the unfairness of it all 🤬!
I’ve cried with grief at the loss of my old self 😭.
So it’s not always been smooth sailing.
I’ve been tested in ways that I’ve never been tested before.
I’ve wrestled with my self-doubt and flirted with the worst-case scenario ‘what ifs’ more times than I care to remember 😱.
I’ve been face to face with my own fragile mortality 😟☠️.
Someone once said to me that living with a cancer diagnosis is like having PTSD … specific triggers can bring back memories of the trauma along with the intense emotional and physical reactions.
Anytime I feel pain or discomfort in my body or I miss certain daily ablutions, I find myself automatically defaulting to ‘what if it’s back?’ …
Speak to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and they will tell you that a recurrence is always in the back of their mind.
It’s the house guest from hell that has taken up permanent residence in your home, uninvited 🔥.
This is my biggest mental and emotional challenge.
Managing and redirecting my worst-case scenario fears when they bubble up.
The good news is that I’m having lots of practice with it and getting better at acknowledging and transforming those fears into faith … 💖
Not in the religious sense although that would be ok too.
Faith that all is well. That I’ve got this and no matter what happens, I can deal with it.
I’ve tapped into my inner reserves and strengths like never before and taken my resilience to a whole new level.
My very intuitive integrative oncologist recently said something which resonated to the very core with me …
‘You are extremely energetically capable of creating your reality … That is why you will remain well.’
The connection between mind and body is undeniable.
When we choose to feel stressed, our bodies also get stressed and this is why we get aches and pains.
Stress is the prelude to illness and disease.
It’s been proven time and time again.
So if you can control your stress (by being aware of it when it happens, channelling, redirecting and releasing it safely), then you can take back control of your health.
Be the creator of your reality.
That’s the biggest life lesson I’m learning.
Summed up in one sentence …
‘I am extremely energetically, emotionally, mentally and physically capable of creating my reality.’
I don’t know what the future will hold.
As I believe that the future is influenced by the choices you make today. Right now.
So I’m making the choice to have faith in me and my ability to take care of myself 😍.
To trust in the support I draw from within and around me to allow my body and mind to heal 🥰.
To use this as an opportunity to be better 🤩.
Even be an inspiration to others …
And this is why I am sharing my journey with you.
Because if you’ve been struggling, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
And that you CAN do this.
You’ve totally got this.
Because you’re not a survivor.
You’re a Thriver ✨✨✨.
Even on those days that you want to curl up in a little ball and disappear.
Remember they’re just moments. And they will pass.
You’ll pick yourself straight back up when you’re ready and keep on going.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger 💪💪💪. Cliched and oh so true.
So I just wanted to say I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of me.
Life is a gift 🎁.
I’m so grateful for it every day.