Regardless of How Many New Year’s Resolutions People Make, A Patient With Cancer Advises Advocating for Oneself

Article

After a challenging year due to COVID-19 and rising blood test numbers, a woman living with ovarian cancer shares on what she’s learned and how she’s approaching 2022.

As I write this, today is the first day in January 2022. It is a day when people make resolutions. Many resolutions are based on the normal ones we choose like exercising more, eating right, losing weight and being a better friend.

While these resolutions are typical, and are good ones to make, we often give it our best try the first month of the year and then some of them go by the wayside. I work out at the YMCA, and January is filled with people working on their resolutions. By March, the crowds are thinner.

Maybe we should look back to 2020 and 2021 to help make some resolutions that truly are going to be part of our agenda to be a better person physically, socially and mentally.

When the pandemic hit us early in 2020, there was so much that we did not know. I was not able to see my 94-year-old mother as her place of residence was in lockdown, closed to all visitors. It was difficult as she was not able to go to her doctors to take care of some of the ailments she had. This did take a toll on her health, especially her eyes.

We were not able to see friends and celebrate birthdays, holidays, weddings or funerals. We had some relatives that did not get the celebration of life that was well-deserved. Schools closed and online learning became the way of life. Children did not get to experience the joy of being in the classroom. If they did, they were wearing masks. Our lives certainly did change.

Then the vaccine was developed, and we were personally getting on every list to get vaccinated as soon as we could. Summer came with outside seating and things almost became normal. I was able to see my mother more often but then with more COVID-19 cases, her place was in lockdown again. We moved her to a better facility, and now we see her every other day. We feel very blessed to be able to do this. This was one of our first major resolutions, which came in June!

For me, as a patient with ovarian cancer, 2020 and 2021 was a challenge. I had two bouts of radiation and chemotherapy while trying to avoid COVID-19. The worries about staying healthy to fight my disease were difficult. The therapy that I received left me very susceptible to anything that germs can generate.

I was blessed to remain healthy even when my husband came down with COVID-19. I am sure you all experienced rough red hands from all the washing and sanitizers. Resolution two was to stay healthy. I continue this as 2022 begins.

Mentally, I have resolved to continue to be positive in my cancer fight. For those who battle cancer, the disease never leaves your thoughts. You avoid crowds to stay away from germs. You try to eat right to not feed the cancer with bad foods. You try to think of the future as being there to make more memories to enjoy. But the tap on the shoulder reminds you that you are constantly fighting for your life. I continue to be an advocate for myself and research all therapies and possibilities for treatment.

If you have read my recent posts, you know that my chemo ended in July and my numbers started to go up, which meant that something was going on. This was so frustrating as chemo was not fun and this had been my fourth round. I was to start my fifth round, but my oncologist referred me to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) in Columbus, Ohio. I was hoping to get into a trial as my oncologist said that they had a robust program of trials.

To update my readers, I was very fortunate, and semi qualified for two separate trials. I started the process of getting fully qualified. The boxes that need to be checked to go on a trial are incredible. I had a CT scan, bloodwork, EEG, EKG, physical examination and a urine test. When they took my blood, they took 10 vials! It was a full day of testing.

On December 17, I started the trial. I am so excited as it is manageable and so far, I have had no troubles or side effects. I hope it is taking care of my cancer cells! More testing after six weeks will hopefully show improvement. Again, I am remaining positive!

My resolutions are still the same. I want to be a better wife, mother, grandmother, friend and caretaker. I want to continue to eat healthy foods and exercise at the YMCA. I want to ride my bike with my husband and walk in the park. I want to ski down a mountain. I have made plans for the future with visits to my out-of-town children and sisters. I want to make more memories as they will sustain me when things are challenging.

For those of you who are making resolutions, make one or make several, but make them for you. Be an advocate for yourself. Fight the fight with all your might.

Reflect on the positive and good things in your life. Celebrate the wonderful things that you have. Let the negative things go. You can do this. Make 2022 the best that you can. I know that is my goal.

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