At the moment it may be hard to realize, but your life is not over because of cancer.
Although my story is still unfolding there is much to share about what has brought me to where I am today. Take a trip down these past nine years with me—starting in 2011. That’s when my journey began, and my life changed forever. That’s when, at the age of 40, it was discovered that I had massive tumors on both my ovaries which was confirmed – through surgery – to be late-stage ovarian cancer.
I would love to tell you that I knew about ovarian cancer, but that’s simply not true. I had no clue about it. In my mind I didn’t know it even existed even though, later, I vaguely recalled that my uncle’s wife had gone through the exact same cancer years before. That said, I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know the signs or symptoms. I didn’t know that there was a month dedicated, September, for awareness and that the color for ovarian cancer is the color teal. I don’t remember seeing commercials about it or people talking about it at high school, college or at the workplace. And because of that, I didn’t know what to look for when my body started talking to me.
Which is what it surely did in 2011. First there were whispers, then it got louder and then there were screams. By the time I saw a doctor, six months after first getting the whispers, my body was screaming at me. Screaming at me to stop ignoring (and being in denial of) all the symptoms: diarrhea, need to urinate more, lack of appetite, feeling full after eating little, abdomen pain, back pain, night sweats and abdomen bloating that caused weight gain. I had done what no one should do, which is not listen to their body. It was fear and denial. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit it. And that was foolish – in a way that could have cost me my life.
However, I suppose God still had plans for me as, obviously, my life didn’t end there. After surgery, I did five months of chemotherapy—the kind that after three cycles had me thinking I was going to die if I did anymore, which led to my decision not to complete the last three cycles. In 2012, I completed a total of five months of treatment and was given the seal of approval that I was in fact, in remission. It was because of that I headed back to Saudi Arabia to return to teaching.
Even though the next almost seven years I had my ups and downs with the aftermath of cancer and chemotherapy I was grateful to have remained in remission. I continued to teach in Saudi Arabia and was blessed to spread a lot of ovarian cancer awareness at the different places I taught at. I also continued my love of traveling and was able to visit ten or eleven countries in the time I was cancer-free.
I suppose the word grateful doesn’t even come close to capturing how my heartfelt for having so many amazing opportunities post-cancer. Especially considering how many women, who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, didn’t get all the years that I got and still have. I wanted to show people that there is life after cancer – and I believe I continue to succeed with that. First with my book HOPE through cancer, which was published in 2014. And then through my social media platforms.
And even now, in 2021 as I celebrate my 50th birthday, despite my current circumstances of cancer returning twice within a year and a half. I still very much believe that there is life after, and during, cancer. That, yes, cancer can break our bodies, but it cannot break our spirits – if we don’t allow it to. That, yes, cancer may make life hard, physically, psychologically, and financially, but it doesn’t have to mean that life is over. At least that is what I’m choosing to believe.