The Many Rants, Raves, and Rambles of Catherine
How the basic cancer girls began:
I've had several people ask me to start documenting my cancer journey on my blog... It might not always be organized, it might not always be pretty, and it might be downright sad sometimes, but that's okay.
I was diagnosed with gangolian ovarian cancer (a type of germ cell ovarian cancer) in July of 2015. When I first got my diagnosis, my doctor didn't even know what we were going to do. The tumor I have is vascular, making it inoperable, but since I only have the one ovary they wanted to keep my eggs viable, and chemo and radiation don't make that possible.
I didn't tell anyone at first... Because I didn't know what to say. I have cancer, yes, but they don't know what to do. I didn't want my parents or friends worrying about something that I had no answers for, and so I decided I just wasn't going to tell anyone until my treatment plan was more concrete.
Actually, weirdly, the first person I ever told was a girl I worked with out at the postal encoding center. It just kind of spilled out, and honestly the way she handled the situation gave me the courage and bravery to know that I could tell other people about it eventually. She didn't pry, she asked basic questions, but she didn't give me "that look", the look that people get when they hear you're dying, like you're fragile. (K'lynn if you're reading this, that's your shout out girl. You're the first person I ever told I had cancer. Holla at postal buddies)
But eventually, 2-3 weeks after my diagnosis I finally exploded and told Justice, and he gave me the advice and courage to tell my parents. Telling my parents was hard, as I was so new to everything myself I couldn't answer a lot of their questions. They asked to tell my family, and I decided they could tell my grandparents, but that was it.
As I got more sick, I had to go on medical leave from my job, and I began to feel more isolated, but I wasn't ready to tell anyone else yet... I didn't want to deal with the questions, because the questions made me have to think about and deal with my situation, and honestly, that was not something I had been wanting to do. If I didn't acknowledge what was going on, then maybe it wasn't really happening...
Eventually I found an anonymous social media site, and around October I uploaded a picture of myself while I was at the hospital getting infusions with a caption along the lines "the life of cancer patient" as I sat there in my hospital gown, my *adorable* little hospital mask as I'm immuno compromised, and with my dark circles blacker than the night... It was kind of cry into the void, a way to voice what was going on with me without the pity, and the questions, and the change in the way people treated me.
I received a message from a girl, another cancer patient, Ali... We began talking. She was like me! She was in her 20's and had "old person cancer" (aka cancer that's normally only found in patients over the age of 50.) Talking became a regular thing, and she asked me if she could find me on facebook (insert my mini panic attack I had for a minute now that this person was going to know know me and it wasn't going to be anonymous anymore) but I decided "why not."
Ali soon told me that she knew of 2 other girls who had ovarian cancer around the same time period I did and if I wouldn't mind getting to know them. Anyone who knows me, knows I have super bad social anxiety, and so I had a mini panic attack that they wouldn't like me, but I figured it would be like most other chats where we would chat for the first day making weird small talk and then never talk again.
Helen, Kalina, Ali, and I messaged each other almost every single day from that day on. Sometimes about cancer stuff, and sometimes about stuff that had nothing to do with cancer. But we became what we called "the basic cancer girls." And let me tell you something... These girls have changed my life. They gave me an outlet that I so desperately needed. When it was 3 in the morning and my cancer meds had me puking, I always knew I could message my group and someone would respond. The joking, sassiness, and funny spin they were able to put on any situation that came up for me helped me change my mindset. Don't get me wrong, they also were great about acknowledging how sucky the situation is and would let me rant and yell, but by the end, no matter what, the conversations ended with me feeling happier.
I also want to say that these girls became/are my inspirations:
Kalina is now in remission but even while in chemo was running 4-6 miles a day, and now is running marathons and 50 plus mile races, which showed me that even when feeling sick and crappy, I could push through it and I can do hard things. Kalina also has the happiest aura around her and seriously just makes you happy when you are next to her.
Ali didn't let cancer stop her dreams, and although she is still in her battle, she lives in LA (but is originally from Wisconsin) and is pursuing her dream of being an actress and is doing amazing. She also has continued to reach out to other cancer patients and help them get a support group. Ali has taught me that cancer doesn't have to stop you from dreaming, and that you still can do the things you love. She's also taught me about the importance of reaching out to others, because without her I'm pretty sure I still would have 0 cancer friends my age.
Helen has lived life to the fullest and is super spunky and sassy. Every time I was down she could give me a "screw that" and come up with 10 ways to have a better time. She nannies and has helped raise this adorable boy, and has shown me that I don't have to let cancer take away my "spunk" as she is seriously the most fun person I've ever met.
Eventually, towards the end of November, I decided to make my cancer journey public, which was terrifying and liberating at the same time.
And if you fast forward to May, I finally got to meet my basic cancer girls and spend a lovely weekend with them in Denver and get even closer to them then I am now.
So that was the birth of the basic cancer girls...
I'm sure I'll be writing more about different things that happened in my journey, but this was the first concrete post I could come up with. :)