The Girl Who Stayed Positive Through Her Darkest Days
As Told To Sean McChesney
Senior, Athletic Training Major at Montclair State University
Ovarian Cancer Survivor
In March of 2015, an ultrasound was ordered for an irregular menstrual cycle, and a cyst was found. I was told to return in three months. To add to the stress, I aged out of my parent’s health insurance. Luckily, when I returned to Montclair State University as a junior, school insurance covered another ultrasound in January of 2016. The cyst was then doubled in size and immediate surgery was required.
The six-hour surgery took place on March 10. The cyst was benign, but the doctors also found a malignant tumor. On my following visit in April, I was hit with the words I never thought I would hear, “You have stage 1c ovarian cancer.”
Words cannot describe the rush of emotions. The doctor explained my options, and the best option was chemotherapy. I knew my life was going to change and I had to accept it. I would lose my hair, and have overwhelming fatigue and weakness. I knew my mom would take the news harder than I did, so I did my best to stay strong for her. It wasn’t easy to digest the news, but my family was very supportive and positive; we were going to get through this together.
Chemotherapy began on June 11, the four cycles of six-to-eight hour treatments lasted the whole summer. I felt trapped inside my own thoughts and lonely because I didn’t know who to talk to about how I felt; I didn’t think anyone would understand. I told the summer staff at work at the Montclair State Campus Recreation Center because I didn’t want to be asked questions about my struggle. I didn’t want any pity or sympathy from others and people hugging me telling me everything was going to be all right. I worked pretty hard at keeping a smile on my face and presenting a happy outlook all the time. Outside of work, I would want to sit in my room and be left alone; I didn’t want to be seen or engage in conversation. I felt insecure, and lost all my confidence feeling like a sick cancer patient. My only escape was writing in my journal because that was the only way I was able to express myself. I wrote in it every day.
I rejected going to talk to someone about what I was going through, but I didn’t think going to a support group or psychologist would help me. I found a way to cope with everything on my own. There was a few times where I couldn’t handle the physical changes. I couldn’t handle the chunks of hair falling off day after day until it was all gone. Although, every day I would have someone tell me I’m beautiful, and not to think otherwise. It was only later in the summer where I started to believe that. If I didn’t have a positive attitude, this treatment and remission would not have gone the same. The feedback from people who said, ‘stay positive, you are going to get through this,’ made me believe I was going to be ok and helped me get through this easier. Positivity is always something I believe is good to have, and this experience made me prove it to myself.
On Sept. 2, my computed tomography (CT) scan results confirmed that I did not have to complete the chemo cycles; the results were clean. I asked my doctor, “Am I in remission?” When he said, “yes,” I put my head down and I started crying. Those are the words that any cancer patient could ask for. I was proud of myself because through the bone and muscle aches, weakness and fatigue from the treatment, the insecurity, I stayed positive and strong from beginning to end. In my experience, it was tough to deal with, but I’m grateful to have gone through it and grow as a person and find the fighter within.