I am proud to post my survivor story during ovarian cancer awareness month:
I Am A Survivor
Survivorship is a daily act of remembrance. I remember to listen to my body, and to express my voice. And I remember gratitude. I’m grateful to be alive, well, and in a good place in my life. It wasn’t always that way.
My diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2002 came 3 months after my 40th birthday. I thought it would be the year I celebrated having a baby but that wasn’t meant to be. Years of work-related stress, IBS, and fertility drugs had a domino effect on my immune system. Doctors didn’t connect the IBS to ovarian cancer (it is a symptom), nor did they inform me about the connection between fertility drugs and cancer. I discovered these connections and their meaning through working with healers, complementary therapists, and a painting and writing process called healing art.
I was treated by the world renowned oncologist Dr Peter G. Harper. Nothing prepared me for how low I would feel after that first chemo session, but it got easier as I used complementary therapies to counterbalance the toxic side-effects. My husband and family were my rock, and instrumental in my recovery. I could not have got through those difficult chemo and post-chemo months without their love and support.
Prior to my diagnosis I left my corporate publishing job, and set up my own literary agency representing first-time authors. I started to paint with an art therapist, and found this helpful as I began to express my feelings for the first time. This was a safe place for me to begin exploring some of the trickier questions I was facing: will I survive if I push my body even further and do IVF? Will my marriage survive if we don’t have children? What is the point of my life post-cancer?
The painting process was inspiringly messy and unstructured, and I set up a home studio so I could paint during the night when I couldn’t sleep. The answers came the more I painted, and I deepened my awareness of the importance of using my voice as a writer, and creating a life that was in balance. As I regained my stamina and my hair grew back I was able to face closing the door on having children. When the time came to make that decision I chose life, my life.
In June 2010, I reached a tipping point when I celebrated my 5 year cancer clearance. My husband and I fulfilled our dream and moved from our busy city lifestyle in London to a country lifestyle in Stamford, Lincolnshire. We are enjoying creating a new life together that includes my dream of publishing my book about survivorship, and many good Pub lunches!
I have learnt that surviving was a choice. Sometimes the choices were hard but as I look around me they were worth fighting for.
If you or a woman you know is struggling with this disease, contact Ovarian Cancer Action