Everybody has a story to tell.
I was talking to a friend today, and our conversation inspired me to write this post. You see, she’s on a journey – as we all are. And recently, her journey took an unexpected turn. I suggested she start a blog [writing can be therapeutic and because her journey can inspire others]. Initially, she was apprehensive. It’s scary sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with others – I know. But then, she said something that made me think: “if only she could see herself through my eyes”. She said that she doesn’t think she has a story to tell; that her story may not be as “dark” as others. But I say everybody has a story to tell. Your story may not be like mine, and my story may not be like yours. But, it’s a story just the same. It’s a part of our journey, and it may very well help someone else through his/hers [journey]. I asked her permission to share the details of her journey and she agreed. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share a piece of her with you, and I hope that her story inspires you as much as it inspires me!
My Friend: Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Friend [to many]. Student. She’s smart, funny, loveable, loving, beautiful – inside and out, and she has a heart of gold! Seriously, knowing her has enriched my life in so many ways. Our meeting was by chance. We laugh about how I picked her up off the side of the road – she was begging for a ride [kidding]. But ever since that day, I’ve looked up to her and admired the young woman that she’s become. She’s God fearing, driven, dependable, hard working, studious, caring, and trustworthy among SO many other things. She’s a great person, and she’s been a great friend to me.
My Friend: She was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She’s 27-years-young.
I remember the early morning phone call. She said she went to the doctor because she was experiencing excessive bleeding. Because she was on the pill to regulate her cycle, the doctor was concerned and insisted on examining her. He discovered a mass. An ultrasound confirmed the mass was on her ovary. He wanted to do blood work to see if it could be cancer. It could very well be benign. But if the results returned abnormal, he would need to do surgery immediately to remove the mass. I could hear the worry in her voice. She didn’t want to have surgery, and she definitely didn’t want it to be cancerous. “Just pray that the results come back normal,” she asked of me. “I will,” I told her. And I did.
The next time I talked to My Friend, the results were in. The blood work came back abnormal. They needed to perform surgery.
She wanted a second opinion. The second doctor gave her more specifics on her abnormal lab results, which showed a possibility of cancer. He confirmed the mass was on her right ovary and compared its size to that of a cantaloupe. The mass could be benign, but he wouldn’t know for sure unless they removed it for further testing. He told her the likelihood of it being cancer was slim, 5%. Still, surgery was a must.
I remember the phone call on the day of surgery. Her mom answered the phone. She told me My Friend had just gotten out of surgery, and was still in recovery so they hadn’t seen her yet. The doctor said the mass was bigger than he thought; it was the size of a volleyball. He removed all of the mass and her right ovary. “I’ll call to check on her later,” I said as we got off the phone.
A few hours later, I received a phone call. It was My Friend. “You should be resting,” I told her. “I’m just returning phone calls,” she said in a tiresome voice, proceeding to fill me in on the details of surgery and what the doctor said. The doctor had just removed a possibly cancerous mass and her right ovary, and she was calling me. My Friend. Did I mention how thoughtful she is?!
The next day My Friend found out the mass was cancerous, but she wouldn’t know more specifics regarding the cancer and necessary treatment options until later. “I don’t want to have to go through chemo,” she told me when we talked again. I told her what I knew; that God doesn’t put any more on us than we can bear. “Well, I don’t think I can bear that,” she said. I told her she is a strong person – stronger than she thinks. And I meant it. This is how I’ve seen her for the past six years – ever since that day I picked her up off the side of the road.
Since she withdrew from college before surgery, she decided to move home to recover. The following week she returned to the doctor for more specifics. Although he was sure he got all of the cancerous mass [and it hadn’t spread], the type of cancer is an aggressive one. Chemo was recommended. I remember that phone call too. “It’s six treatments; one every three weeks, and I start [chemo] in July,” she told me. “He said I’ll lose all of my hair,” she added. It was a lot to take in within such a short period of time [4 weeks]. I could hear it in her voice. That was a week ago.
Today, I heard something different in My Friend’s voice. She shared her thoughts and feelings on being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I was inspired. She said she views things differently now. “I’ve learned that life goes on,” she said. She spoke about how sometimes we, as people, take things for granted until we’re in a certain situation. I couldn’t help, but reflect on my own actions and vow to do better. She also talked about being grateful – to God for guiding her through this journey, and for the support of family and friends. “I would still be walking around with that [cancer] in me had I not gone to the doctor and let him do the examination; I know it was nobody, but God.” She admits that her initial reaction was not so positive. She was overwhelmed. But over the last few weeks, she’s taken time to adjust. And although she’s still “figuring out” her feelings about what lies ahead [her body’s response to chemo and losing her hair], she acknowledges what good has come out of this: the cancer didn’t spread, it wasn’t in a late stage, they removed all of the mass, the surgery went well, and recovery has been good. She’s even talking about returning to school during chemo. My Friend. Did I mention how persistent she is?!
So, that’s a little piece of My Friend’s journey with cancer. Her journey just started, but her story inspires me as much as anyone else’s [story]. To some (including her), her story is not as “dark” as others, but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful. And it doesn’t have to be “dark” to make a difference. It’s HER story; and it’s real. And that’s enough.
She jokingly said to me, “I was thinking, am I supposed to be like a spokesperson for cancer now?” We laughed, but anything’s possible. After all, everybody has a story to tell.
~ Ciara Walker