3 years ago, I knew something was seriously wrong with my reproductive system after eating sacramental peyote. Following ceremony, overcome with emotion, I went home to weep. I wept for Noah’s passing and Oskar’s hard way. I wept for my surviving children and their pain. I wept over the suicide of my husband and his surviving sons. I wept for me and the enormous weight of grief I was carrying. I wept for hours. When I finally rose, satisfied with my purification, I went to take a shower. I stood naked before the mirror and stared at my reflection. There in the glass, were many white dots about the size of the head of an eraser, dancing in front of my pelvis and lower abdomen. An inaudible voice, the spirit of the Grandfather Medicine was speaking to me, telling and showing me the toll of my grief. Another name for peyote is the Divine Messenger. I listened and took heed, making an appointment with a gynecologist midwife. It took me 3 months to be seen. I saw the midwife in February of 2017. I told her why I was there, my experience with the medicine, my family history of BRCA2+ genetic mutation, my traumatic past and my symptoms. Perhaps due to the severity of stress in my situation, my age, that I had born 6 children, stigmatization of substance use and mental illness, no CA125 tumor marker was ordered and was given a clean bill of health. 9 months later, in flight mode, being seen at an Ohio hospital ER for injures sustained through intimate partner violence, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.
In desperation for both my life and love for my abuser, I returned with him to Colorado and got a second opinion in December of 2017. The cancer was metastasized and spread from my ovaries and fallopian tubes to my uterus, bladder, stomach, intestines, liver, lungs, lymphatic system and blood. The prognosis was grim and I was filled with despair. With the tragic outlook and out of what I felt was necessity at the time, for nearly one year, my cancer was treated radically and allopathically. Sweet Oskar died in my arms during this time, on December 26, 2017, adding to my heartbreak and lessening my will to live.
In October of 2018, I was displaced, left to die, alone in a hospice far from my home in Crestone, Colorado and home town of Columbus, Ohio, all allopathic and holistic treatments cruelly withheld from me. I was rescued by the true hero’s of my story, my children; Kyli, Mallori, Loki and Lilith. At the time of rescue and admittance to the hospital, I was near death and weighed only 74lbs. I had accepted I would cross over and only wished to be surrounded by my loved ones.
Ky and Mal would not accept this. They stood by me fiercely and with the conviction I could not only live, but survive and live well. Loyal friends filed into my hospital room at the palliative cancer care unit of the hospital to sit with me. It was obvious to near all but a few of them I was going to die. At one point, staff called Aimee, who had picked up and was caring for Loki and Bee and told her she would need to make haste to see me as I was on the edge and would probably not live through the night. All I know is that I had to stay put to see Loki and Bee again. My childhood friend, Celeste, also surviving cancer, showed up, looked me in the eye and gave a small laugh. “You’re not going anywhere.”, she said.
I was a fall risk, cautioned to not attempt to get up without assistance. In a brief moment between visitors, alone, I dropped a bright pink stress ball Celeste had given me. My OCD got the better of me and I could not leave it under the bed it had rolled. Against doctor’s warnings, I pulled my legs to the side of the bed using my arms and slowly got up. With feeble steps, using the bed railing to assist me, I got as close to where the ball had dropped and tried to bend over to see it….and I fell. So there I was, sprawled out on the floor beside my bed and I couldn’t reach the button to call for help. I was too stubborn and humiliated to try to yell. I started to cry. And in my blurred, tear filled vision, I turned my head and saw that bright pink ball and remembered the words of my warrior sister, “You’re not going anywhere.” I closed my eyes and let my tears fall. I saw in my mind the faces of my children, alive and dead. And it pissed me off. My children’s suffering made me angry. The thought of Noah and Oskar having such brief lives, Oskar’s being so painful, of Ky, Mal, Loki and Bee grieving Noah and Oskar, of them seeing me so grief stricken, of them having to face living without me, all of this made my blood boil. The thought of the abuse we had endured throughout tragedy enraged me. The sight of my friends coming to me, in tears that they may not see me again hit me harder than ever. From somewhere inside of me, a place I can only refer to as the gut of my guts, I was touched by Holy Fire at the brutality of the circumstances and with that flame, I opened my eyes, narrowed my vision on that ball laying under my bed and slithered like a snake to grab it. With my sister’s symbol of power in my hand, I slid my frail body to the side of the bed and willed myself to reach for the side-rail. The strength to pull myself up came not from my weakened arms but from my guts, that burning fire within me refusing to be suffocated or drowned out. I pulled myself up and let my body fall onto the bed. It was there I decided to utilize every resource in my power to not only live, but live my best life.
With all the love that passed to and from my door in that hospital room last year, the continued love and support of my relations, with Holy Fire and magic burning in the gut of my guts, I endured rounds of chemotherapy and major debulking surgery. I stand before you alive and well today because of a renewed will to live, the love and dedication of my family, friends and team of experts both traditionally western and radically allopathic and holistic. I thank Grandfather Peyote for showing me the way. I thank my children for refusing to give up hope and holding me to stay here. I thank Celeste and all fellow warriors who believe in me. I thank everyone who came to tell me they love me while I was so near to death, when it counts. I thank each and every one of you who’ve supported, housed, fed, clothed and driven me along this way. Without you, I would not be.
In November I will be celebrating 2 years survival post diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer with a 70% recurrence rate within 5 years. With Love, Support, Strength and Resiliency, I will continue to beat the odds.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Early detection is best for long term survival. In the case that it is caught late, such as in mine, love and support are key components to surviving. I am most fortunate to have an abundance of support in my family, friends and community.
Know the signs and symptoms!
If you have any of them for more than two weeks go talk to your doctor or your OBGYN:
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
incontinence or Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling the need to go) or frequency (having to go often)
Pain during intercourse
Abdominal swelling with weight loss
This month, at 122lbs, I will be walking a 5k in support of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio. Please support me and this organization which serves our community; the mission to detect ovarian cancer early and serve those affected by, such as myself.
Thank you all for the ongoing love, encouragement, support, energy, prayers and taking the time to read this message. It’s good to be here. Love on.