top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureOC Warrior Queen

Reflections of a Warrior

Updated: May 11, 2023

It has been 20 days since my surgery, and I am healing well.


My follow up appointment will be on the 17th of May. I'm hoping for the best, but am prepared to hear and do whatever is required of me to fully eliminate the intruder from my body.


Waiting a month to find out what's next feels like an eternity. But I get it, it's by design, it's to to ensure that my focus is on resting and giving my body time to recover from surgery.


As I said in my previous posts, waiting is one of the hardest things. Your mind can easily start to spin and catastrophize. Which is why I find it so important to feed the mind something to bite on and to focus on.


This post is me sharing some of those bites of reflection.


Yup, it turns out that this warrior is a self-proclaimed philosopher too!


Navigating Emotional and Rational Thoughts

What I do when I worry is jump into science mode. Thank you Bill Nye, The Science Guy!


I do this because I want to understand what is happening, why it's happening and if I need to stop it from happening.


I don't recommend this to everyone, but I find learning more about my medical condition, whether it's the cancer or the details of the surgery, reassuring.


I don't really spiral. Yes, I might read a scary statistic or two, and worry, but I quickly reason myself out of it. I think that because I'm such a nerd and am fascinated by the science of it all, I am able to transition from my emotional brain to my science brain.


It's almost like I treat myself, "the patient", as a 3rd person in that moment, as if I was doing research for a client, a friend, or a family member.


The only time I actually freaked out and had to step back and shut something down was not when I was researching online, but rather when I joined a support group on Facebook for ovarian cancer fighters and survivors.


It was the scariest place ever! And I've literally watched youtube videos of the surgery I had. Real surgeries, not those perfect 3D animations. (I can hear everyone in my family reading this say, "See, you should have been a doctor!")


Sounds crazy, right? But here's the thing, medical articles and videos don't express emotions or vulnerability. They are written in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone. I receive them as learning, as knowledge, as data.


Whereas, a facebook group with posts of all kinds, including women in hospice care because their ovarian cancer is too far advanced and there's nothing left to do, is a blackhole of emotions that I can't "science" my way out of.


I was just not ready for that group.


I'm in a positive headspace right now and need to safeguard this emotional state. I'm riding a wave and want to stay focused to see where it takes me. I can't afford to get lost and drown myself in what-if scenarios. I was a member of that group for about 3 minutes before I bolted out of there!


That being said, I do have lows of course, but again, I use my recently acquired scientific knowledge on the topic, and talk through my fears with my husband. We rationalize our way out of that dark space.


It's important to feel those feelings, and to process them by talking about them. Burying dark emotions is never the answer because the body keeps score, and at one point it will pop up as another health issue. I can't do that to my body. Especially, right now, while it is working on healing.


But, I also have to keep in mind that it is mission critical not to stay stuck in those dark thoughts because one can spiral down into a depressive state. No thanks! Don't need that on top of everything.


Just like everthing in life, it's all about balance.


Our amazing vessels

I am in awe of my body and how well it's healing.


It's one of the few times in my life that I have been in awe and admiration of the human body. The two other times I felt this way was when I was pregnant.


It feels a little strange to say it, but I am so proud of my body. We should all be more comfortable saying this.


Right after surgery, I was weighing around 120 lbs, which is not anywhere near my healthy weight, and I kept dropping pounds for about a week or two and was down to 116 lbs. I have to admit, it scared me a little because I probably haven't weighed that since I was 16 years old!


It was alarming but normal to some extent because I knew that surgery shuts off your gut. It took a good week for my gastrointestinal system to recover from the shock of the surgery and the lingering effects of anaesthesia. It was normal that it was having a hard time processing food and absorbing nutrients.


But there was also something else going on, something fascinating, which I of course found out by googling!


After surgery, your body can go into a hyper metabolic state to increase the amount of available calories. Your body needs more energy to heal the muscles, nerves, and tissue.

And all of that extra work needs extra calories, and especially extra protein. This made so much sense because I was eating a lot more than I usually would, but not gaining any weight.


At the moment of writing this entry, I'm at 122 lbs. I'm at my university days weight, which is still quite low for me, but it's better than the high school days weight I had a few weeks ago, so I'll take it!


You were right John Mayer, my body really is a wonderland... I don't think we mean it in the same sense but still, it is a wonderful machine and needs our attention, and deserves our respect!


The Struggle Bus

When you share your cancer journey, people share their own journeys.


We are all different and experiencing life through our own lens, but one thing we all have in common is the word struggle.


Each of us has lived, or is living, or may one day live a struggle. That's the game of life!

No one wants it, but struggle is the common ground. And if you're willing, you might gain new wisdom and strength from this experience. Which then becomes a gift you can one day give another person struggling with something similar.



By sharing my story publicly, I got messages from so many people I knew for many years but didn't know that they had overcome cancer, including some that beat ovarian cancer.


I also got to connect more deeply with friends who are on their own cancer journeys at the moment.


The Present Moment

One of these friends recently wrote a post on Facebook that really got me thinking about the present moment.


Take a deep breath before continuing. Things are about to get real!


If you really think about it, the crazy thing about life is that we all start dying the moment we are born.


I warned you! But it gets better, keep reading.


We just don’t know what will be the reason. It could be a car crash, cancer, a heart attack…anything, really.


And the bittersweet thing about modern medicine is that once we know we have cancer, although the medical intervention increased our lifespan, it also infected our mind with the knowledge of the cancer’s existence, which then could lead us to forget that before knowing about the cancer, we were all “dying” anyway.


We were just not as aware of this process as we are now. It gets you thinking more deeply about life.


This got me thinking...

Well, wait a minute! No matter which way or cause we are each “dying from”, while we wait, we do this beautiful thing called living.

And living is full of experiences, lessons, love, joy, all kinds of emotions, and memory-making.


Every day that I am here, I am just as alive as the next person.


Yes, we may not be living the same way or with the same pains or joys.


Yes, we can get analytical about it and talk about probabilities and statistics, but the beauty of this thought is that I am alive today just as anyone else, and tomorrow is not 100% guaranteed for anyone, regardless of their health condition.


And in a way, the beauty of knowing that I have cancer, actually helps me live in the present more than others because I suddenly have a newfound respect for the present moment and have realized it’s true value.


The present is all we have. Each one of us.


It's the only real thing, and it lasts about an instant. When you combine those instants together, you get Life!


The older collection of instants is called the past. The not yet lived set is called the future, but the only instant you actually live actively is the now.


And so, if we embrace this thought, we find ourselves living and laughing a little louder, playing a little harder, and squeezing our loved ones a little tighter.


Purpose and Meaning

Over the last few weeks, I've been sharing my story and the feedback from everyone has been so powerful. I often hear:


You are so inspiring!


It makes me smile to hear that but the first time someone said this, I remember that I also felt a little confused, questioning why or what was so inspirational because I was doing this for myself in many ways. It's part of my healing process, and my source of strength.


One of the most important questions I used to ask my coaching clients when they were in a situation that seemed out of their hands was:


𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒊𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒍 𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒘, 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒎𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕?


I had to ask myself this very question a few weeks ago.


Meaning… purpose… raison d’être


These are important words to me.


I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, maybe some things do, but not everything.


However, I do believe that everything can be GIVEN a purpose, even the most nonsensical life events.


Also, I just can’t stand doing things without a reason. It makes me feel like I’m wasting precious time. I can’t help it, the engineer in me is looking for efficiency in everything I do 😄

Even with cancer. I needed to give it a purpose.

And that's why I could not let cancer "just happen to me", so the only real and meaningful way for me to regain control of the situation was to ensure that I was defining this moment and giving it meaning myself.


The purpose I’ve chosen is to be a voice for people with with Ovarian Cancer.


I am going to be using my platforms to raise awareness by sharing information, and will continue to share my personal journey with ovarian cancer.


Self-reflection

When we have time to reflect, we have time to express ourselves in an authentic way. And my authentic self is a curious cat with not 9, but 999 lives, and I'm living them all at once!


Each life has its own theme and set of interests, there's the artist, the STEM nerd, the singer, the philosopher, the coach, the writer and the list goes on.


The more you get to know me, the more you'll see a glimpse of my hidden interests and talents. Some are useful, but some are just silly things like being able to rotate my arm a full 360 degrees lol!


My curiosity is my superpower! It is the foundation of who I am.


Thanks to my curious nature, I have boxes upon boxes of various interests, skills, and information tucked away in the folds of my brain.


Once an idea pops into my head, I am easily able to build bridges to connect, and access these hidden gems that I have collected over the years. It's part of my personality.


When someone comes to me, or if I have a problem or an issue to solve, I get such a thrill from the process of problem-solving. I love a challenge!


I start with connecting with the person, to really understand what they need and why it's important. Next, we go into research mode, a mode I'm quite fond of because I get to acquire more gems for my collection! And then comes the creative step, where I get to play and tinker to engineer a solution.


And everything you're seeing me do these days is a result of this. Reconnecting with myself, using my internal resources along with medicine, and sharing my journey is my own unique cancer recovery program.


And if along the way, it inspires you or someone who is going through a life challenge, then that makes me want to fight even harder and speak louder! So, thank you!


Tick tock... 7 more days to go until my oncology appointment.


Until then, remember that the present moment is precious and fleeting, so live it intentionally! Enjoy it!

Alvina,

OC Warrior Queen




115 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


Guest
May 11, 2023

Chère Alvina, je continue de te trouver inspirante et cela m'amène à réfléchir à ma propre vie et aux priorités nouvelles qui s'imposent de plus en plus à ce chapitre de ma vie! Merci de partager ces réflexions si importantes!

Danielle P.

Like
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page