The Dark Cloud of Cancer-Part 1

Cancer sucks.

Part One

Picture this with me: You are standing in an open and grassy field. The sky is clear, the sun is shining, and the breeze swirls, touching your cheeks and hair. You smile as you absorb the rays of sunshine piercing your clothes, and something about the wide open space beckons good fortune and endless possibilities. Then you hear it: the low rumble that creeps up all around you. The wind picks up a bit, and it’s cool on your skin. You feel the hair on the back of your neck and arms stand up and notice that it’s getting darker. 

The luscious grassy smell has been smothered by ozone and you know a strong storm is coming. You are miles from home without the proper clothing and no shelter in sight. A twinge of worry crosses your mind, but you stifle it momentarily by imagining the storm will pass quickly. The sky has began to turn grey, and it’s rapidly growing darker.

A tide of dark clouds begin to roll overhead and now there’s no denying it: you are stuck in a storm that you weren’t’ prepared for. You can’t hide from it or control it, and you have no idea how bad the storm will get or how long it will last. You realize that you could be in danger, but there’s nothing you can do to protect yourself. Your only choice is to go through the storm and wait it out, or hope that someone rescues you.

It begins to rain fat, heavy drops of water and you are quickly soaked. The rumbling picks up again and crescendos into a powerful series of whips just above your head. Your only comfort is the knowledge that the storm will end, but what if it doesn’t? What if it gets worse? Is the sky turning yellow? Are those clouds forming a tunnel? Am I in Tornado alley? Will I get struck by lightening? Your mind races as you picture the worst-case scenario. The pit in your stomach that began as nerves has made you nauseous, and your hands are shaking. You are a cold and wet wreck, and you are completely at the mercy of the storm.

This is the best way I can describe how it felt for me to be diagnosed with cancer. One minute, you think everything is fine and the next- you’re not. Not only are you not fine, but something is terribly wrong and has the potential to turn quickly into something worse. Shadows begin to follow you and everyone within your inner circle feels the backlash of the storm. You may end up alive on the other end, but the process is terrifying. It changes you either for the better, or for the worse.

Everyone has a story worth telling. I have been told that mine is too, but it took me a while to build up the courage to share it. Friends and family have encouraged me to write about my history of abuse, recent struggles with cancer , and other life experiences because maybe someone can learn or feel comforted by them, and it could be the silver lining in the storms I have been and are still going through. 

So, I am taking a chance and sharing my story with whoever wants to hear. Thank you for letting me share it with you!

I was first diagnosed with cancer in June of 2015. I had been married less than a year, and my husband and I were still reeling after the devastating wake of my abuser’s retaliation and the public and private havoc that she caused for us. We were trying to move on; but we were stuck in the center of this enormous poop storm of emotions dredged up by betrayal and the realization that someone who feigned friendship was the closest thing to an enemy we have ever known.

The last thing on our minds was cancer or even the potential that I could have something seriously wrong with me. We felt like we were drowning in waves from the past and it was all we could do not to let it consume us. I thought about asking a doctor for anxiety medication and for the first time in my life I felt tempted to start drinking. 

I wanted to move out of state and run away. I needed to finally be free of this woman who had taken so much from me and never once acknowledged her responsibility in destroying as much of my soul as possible, along with so many others. The only person who really understood, and still does to this day, is my husband because he saw it first hand and went through it himself. So, in perspective of the timing, cancer was the tornado that came without warning.

I had been having lots of issues with my monthly cycle and odd symptoms that lingered for years, so I finally decided to see a doctor. I wasn’t used to taking care of myself in the ways that counted, so I questioned the need to make a big deal out of my health, but even so, I never canceled the appointment. I went and I thank God often that I made the right decision. 

My doctor was a kind woman who listened and asked questions. I never had a pap test before and I had just turned 30. I was scared of the process because I was a virgin before marriage and knew little about gynecological exams and procedures. I was living with my abuser for most of my adult life and she was content to say as little as possible to encourage me to get out on my own and do things that would benefit me. It wasn’t until I was married that I had the resources and support needed for extensive testing and procedures.

To give you some quick perspective on why any of this is relevant to my story, I was involved in a cult-like relationship for 13 years with my “mentor”/abuser, whom I met as a teenager. She directed my life as “God” showed her- and because I was weak and easily manipulated I let her influence me more than common sense, the real God, and anyone else who truly cared for my well-being. I had pulled so much away from my real family and friends that she was the ultimate authority in my life and the last word on all matters. So much so, that I had to get away from her before I started to think about pursuing medical attention for the pain I would, as she put it, “complain” about.  

Although her betrayal caused me great pain, I will always be thankful that it happened, because if I would have stayed under her influence and control, the cancer would not have been discovered until it was too late. My new PCP ordered a pap smear, ultrasound, and an x-ray to find any cause of my symptoms. It was my very first ultrasound that showed a softball-sized cyst on my left ovary.  The technician was really bad at keeping a poker face, because I immediately knew something was wrong after she found it.  I was referred to an OBGYN and my first surgery was scheduled for the end of May. 

The scariest thing for me about surgery was the IV- Oh! How I hated the thought of a plastic tube inserted into my vein that would stay in for any length of time. Had I known it would be the first of many more, I may have been braver. Two years later and I still hate them, but at least I know the worst pain to anticipate and in a way, that comforts me. It was surgery that I had no idea how to feel about. 

My OBGYN turned out to be a skilled surgeon who successfully and completely removed the cyst which had encapsulated my ovary. A funny and gross side-note: My doctor had mentioned before the surgery that he predicted the cyst was a conglomerate of spare stem cells that could have turned into hair and even {brace yourself} teeth! I was so creeped out that I started calling my cyst “Glumpy” for comic relief. It wasn’t that kind of cyst after all,  but the name stuck.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Glumpy was a beautiful friend sent from God to enclose the ovarian cancer and keep it from spreading throughout my torso.  

My husband and I were called in to talk to the doctor the day he got the results from the biopsy of my cyst. It was, as I mentioned, ovarian cancer and I had no idea what the heck that meant. I have to say, it really does feel like in the movies where they depict life-shattering news as if you’re in a sound-proof, timeless bubble where you don’t hear anything past the first sentence. 

My husband and I were in shock, and I think in our efforts not to loose control of our emotions, or go overboard with crazy thoughts, we tried to find the bright side and left chuckling about something stupid– not really grasping the severity of our news. It felt like a fog of confusion over my head and I couldn’t grasp what that meant for me, for my husband, for my family, for my future. I was referred to an oncologist and things went very quickly from there, so quickly that we barely had time to process our feelings or catch our breath. That’s the end of part one of my story.

In conclusion, the diagnosis stage can be the most stressful time for someone going through cancer. Most often there are many questions that require time, testing, and lots of money to answer. Patients and their loved ones can go through stages of grief and be tormented with thoughts of the worst because any presence of cancer is serious, even if it’s from a small mole.

If you are going through a cancer diagnosis now, or you know of someone who is, let me encourage you with this: Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you have people you trust in your life, ask them for support. If you are able to offer support, don’t wait to be asked. Please, do not be afraid to reach out. 🙂

Part Two is on the way! Have a great week and feel free to share your thoughts/feelings/experiences with me!

Don't be afraid to reach out to receive or offer help when cancer is on the table.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone during cancer.




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