E3: Finding out I have Cancer
Beth thought she was having surgery to remove an ovary covered in cysts. After an initial scare, she had been pain free for months. Her bloodwork showed she was cancer free and her doctors reassured her the surgery was almost routine. Ovarian cysts are a common problem for women, there was nothing to be worried about. But during the surgery, the surgeon suspected the problem was more serious. Within a few days, pathology confirmed his suspicions. Beth’s ovary wasn’t covered in cysts, it had instead been consumed by a cancerous Granulosa Cell tumor. He told Beth the news she had convinced herself she would never hear, “Beth, you have ovarian cancer.” In this episode Steph and Beth explore what it was like for Beth to hear that news, what life was like after that, and what she’s learned about how to talk to people with cancer.
Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), you might find one of these PDFs useful. Choose the orientation that fits best in your journal.
Beth: Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars podcast
Steph: Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different. I'm Steph
Beth: And I'm Beth.
Steph: I've been in recovery for 13 plus years and recently wrote a book, Discovering My Scars, about my mental health struggles, experiences and faith.
Beth: I'm a lawyer turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Steph: Beth and I have been friends for six years, have gone through a recovery program together and when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as my cohost.
Beth: I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from honest conversations with Steph over the years.
Steph: We value honest conversations and we hope you do too.
Beth: That's why we do this and why we want you to be part of what we are discussing today.
Steph: So Beth, what is today's topic?
Beth: Today's topic is: Finding Out I Have Cancer.
Steph: Dun, Dun, Dun, and when we say I, we mean
Beth: Yes, because I found out in the Fall that I had cancer/have cancer. Something like that.
Steph: I think, yeah, by the end of the episode, I think we'll figure out the wording have, had, or might have again.
Beth: Hopefully not again.
Steph: Yeah, we'll, we'll, uh, we'll start there. Uh, so Beth, I will love to hear the story of how this all started.
Beth: So May, 2018 I got up to go to work. I am pastor and so I work on Sunday mornings and I was getting ready to go to church and to work and to preach and felt a pain in my lower left abdomen and thought, hmm, that's uncomfortable. And it got progressively worse and it was one of those pains that--where pain can be so intense that you actually get nauseous from it. So it was at that level and I thought, well, I'm just going to have to power through because, you know, I, I mean if I don't show up for church it's a big deal. I'm the pastor. So on the way to, um, on the way to church, I have to go by an emergency room and I decided as I approached the emergency room: I'm going to go there instead of going to church. And called and let people know that I wasn't going to be able to, to be there and that I needed to go to the emergency room. And it, uh, it just happened to be a weekend also that my husband was out of town. And so I drove, I drove myself in. I had my daughter with me. She was, um, how old was she? She would have been 14 at the time. And so yeah. So I went into the emergency room and I said, I have this really bad pain in my lower abdomen. Years and years and years ago a gynecologist told me that I have ovarian cysts and I, I think something has happened with assist. I think it has ruptured or some, I'm just, I'm in a lot of pain. And they said, um, no, that's not what's going on. You probably have diverticulitis. It was two male doctors of course. And no offense to the male doctors out there in the world, but sometimes we women do know what's going on with our bodies. Ran a bunch of tests but wouldn't give me any pain medicine because I had driven myself and, and because my husband was out of town and couldn't come get me. So, um, I just sat there are laid, they're actually for many hours just waiting for the pain to subside. And I had somebody come pick up my daughter so that she wasn't just sitting there with me. And eventually, um, when they convinced themselves that it wasn't diverticulitis, um, they said, well, maybe we should, you know, do a gynecological exam. And when they did, they were like, Oh yeah, there's definitely something on your ovary and we can't do anything about it.
Steph: Oh, nice.
Beth: So, so they, I think they gave me a prescription for pain medicine and sent me on my way. And actually by that point, after several hours of laying there, the pain had subsided enough that I didn't feel nauseous anymore. I didn't feel like I was gonna pass out or something. So I left the ER and followed up, followed up pretty quickly with my gynecologist and he said, Oh yeah, I remember years ago I told you that you had. And I was like, yeah, I know. And I told them that in the emergency room. And he's, uh, he's, he's really a funny doctor named Dr. Clements and he, so he and I had this good laugh about the emergency room doctor not listening to me. And like, of course you would know what's going on with your own body. And, he said, okay, well we don't have to treat ovarian cysts until they become painful. And I said, yeah, I don't ever want to wake up on a Sunday morning again and have to make that phone call that I can't come in because I'm having this pain. So can we fix it? And he said, yeah, we can fix it. We just have to go in and remove the ovary and then it'll fix the problem. And I'm, you know, I'm in my forties and I'm not in the childbearing phase of life and I don't have that ahead of me. And so there was no risk there. And he said, it's really think at this point in your life, you should just have surgery to remove the ovary. And I said, great, let's do that. And he said, I can't, because he had just had shoulder surgery and he himself wasn't cleared for surgery. So he said, you have to go see my partner. And so when I went to see his partner, he said, well, I really, I, he says, I know what Dr. Clements is saying, I get that, but I want to monitor this because I don't want you to have surgery if you don't have to. So that's what we did. We monitored it. I went every other month, uh, and got an ultrasound done. And every month it looked like the cyst was getting a little bigger, little by little. And he kept expecting it to get smaller, especially because I had been in pain. So the theory was that the cyst had ruptured. And so then we would see it decreasing in size and it wasn't the over, he just seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. And then the last, the third ultrasound. So I did this for about six months where he kind of monitored things and after the third ultrasound or on the third ultrasound, they saw like two cysts with something in between them, which they thought was just more cysts that they couldn't see. And he's like, okay, I think we should, I think we definitely should take out the ovary. Got me scheduled for surgery. Um, I planned it for Tuesday or something. I was, I tried to be really strategic about it so that it wouldn't interfere with a Sunday, And had the surgery. It was outpatient. He removed my left ovary and--
Steph: And your husband had come with you to the surgery?
Steph: And did they, did the doctor tell him after they took out the ovary? Did he say anything to your husband?
Beth: So apparently he said something like, um, good news. We got the whole thing and we were able to bag it. My husband was like, why would he say that? And I was like, I don't know. Maybe it was messy. I'm, I don't know any, I know almost nothing about anatomy and I certainly don't know anything about having, um, an ovary removed except that in terms of surgery names, I think it's the best because it's an oophorectomy, like oof!
Steph: That's what it's called?
Beth: Well sometimes they'll say, o-oh-phor-rectomy. But I think oophorectomy is way more fun. So, um,
Steph: Did the doctor tell you or your husband about like results coming back and did you know what those results might might be?
Beth: So before I had the surgery, he had ordered a very specific kind of blood tests to test for ovarian cancer and to CA-125 and all women should have that test as part of their regular gynecological routine at some point. Like you, even if you just want to get a baseline, it's a good thing to have. And it's, you know, it's, it's standard. It's not like a crazy thing. So I actually had been on retreat in August and they had run the CA-125I called to get the results and the nurse was a little bit short with me. She said, well, you know, we'll call you when we get your results, if we need to. They have an online portal. She's like, just check the online portal, kind of like you don't really need to be bothering us with this until I told her what I was waiting on and she pulled up my record and she was like, oh, okay. And then she was really nice to me and that made me nervous. I was like, why is she being nice to me about this CA-125. So like two hours later she called me back and she was like, good news. CA-125 came back clear, no sign of ovarian cancer. So we went into the surgery with that assumption that there were no markers for ovarian cancer.
Steph: Did you, did the doctor say he was going to give you results after the, he took everything out. What specifically would the results tell you?
Beth: So he said, um, you know, just standard operating procedure, everything that is removed in a surgery is sent to pathology to be checked. And so we'll give you a call next week and you know, let you know what pathology says. So that was my expectation and my expectation was, I mean, he, he said—and he was right in saying this—this like is never anything, this is just, this just happens with ovaries. It's just part of, part of the reproductive system. And so, uh, nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about. I'm sure this is going to be fine. Well, the surgery, like I said, was early in a week, like on a Tuesday or maybe a Wednesday. I went to work that Sunday, you know, I'm, I was in pain, but I was powering through. I thought that it was important. I got a call from his office on like, Monday, I think of the next week. Hey, we need you to come in for your results. I should have known that they give you good news over the phone and they call you in for bad news. But I really wasn't, I just didn't think of that. So I went in and they had to squeeze me in at the end of the day and I was waiting in the room forever. And I remember thinking, they have forgotten than I am here. Like it was after five o'clock, like I could hear people leaving. So I had to go into the hallway and say, Hey, y'all know I'm still here. Right? And she was like, yes, Dr. Dixon really wants to talk to you and he'll be in in a few minutes. So I was like, okay, Oh boy, I'm starting to get the feeling that I know I'm here,
Steph: so you go in.
Beth: So I go in, he comes in and uh, the first thing he says is, Oh, I thought your husband would be with you. And it was like, why? It wasn't his ovary. And, uh, this doctor is, I mean, so sweet. Just such a really, really kind person. And he was nervous for me and he was nervous to tell me. So much so that I had to take him by the arm and say, "I can tell that you have something serious to tell me. Go ahead and tell me so that we can just make a plan and move on." And he was like, he took a deep breath and he said, "okay, well during your surgery, as soon as I saw the ovary, I knew that this wasn't cysts that we were dealing with." And I was like, "Oh really?" And he was like, yeah. He's like, "I tried to explain that to your husband when I was like, I got all of it, I bagged it." And I was like, "oh, we didn't understand that that's what you were communicating." And he's like, "and sure enough, we got the pathology results back and you have ovarian cancer."
Steph: What was your initial reaction when he said those words?
Beth: My initial reaction was, well that's stupid.
Steph: It is pretty stupid.
Beth: I mean it really seemed, it just seemed stupid to me. And then my second, my thought, my second thought was, oh that means I have to have radiation and chemotherapy and I'm going to lose my hair and I'm going to feel sick. And other than having had that pain many, many months before at this point, we're in November. So you know, May I had the pain; November, I had the surgery. I had really not been symptomatic in between. It's a really that, well now I'm going to be sick because I'm going to have to have this treatment. And I thought, Oh, I'm just not gonna look good without my hair. I don't want to lose my hair. I don't want to be the sick lady with cancer. I knew I had to tell my husband, but I was worried about telling anybody beyond him because I knew that he would have feelings about it, but I also knew that he would focus on me and let me focus on me. And I was nervous about telling, not nervous, I was reluctant to tell other people because I didn't want to have to manage their feelings about it. That turned out to be a good instinct cause that was a big part of, uh, of kind of what happened next. That there is a lot of managing other people's feelings when you get a diagnosis like that. So there were a lot of people to tell, right? I had to tell, I had to tell my kids, I had to tell my mom, I had to tell the church that I serve. I had to tell in the denominational structure that I'm part of, like there's a district superintendent who I sort of sort of report to you is one way to think of it. And I, so I had to tell him like, "I don't know what's going to happen. This is, this is what I'm facing."
Steph: Before you told everybody though, what was the process of I have cancer, I have to tell everybody. What was that middle process? Did you research? Did you try to find out more about the cancer to help you process?
Beth: Yeah. So when I was with the doctor and he told me that he had gotten the pathology report back, I asked for a copy of the pathology report. I wanted to know everything that they, that they saw and I wanted to know what the pathologist's opinion was. And so then I took that and from there I started to research exactly what this was. And I found out that there are a couple of different kinds of ovarian cancer and that this particular type that, that the pathologist had identified on me was the rare kind. The really rare, kind. Only about 2% of ovarian cancers diagnosed every year or this particular type. It's Granulosa Cell Tumor Cancer. And I thought, well rare cancer is worse, right? Because, um, you want to get a kind of cancer that like, oh, I, I know 10 people who had that and their prognosis was amazing and it was, you know, it was fine. You don't want to be the one who has like the rare cancer that no one's ever heard of and you don't know what it's going to involve. And in the process of researching that I went from being scared to being terrified. Because when you get a serious diagnosis, you don't really have anywhere to turn other than the Internet and yet the Internet is the worst place to turn. So I found a Facebook group of women who have this very specific type of cancer, GCT. We call ourselves the GCT survivor sisters. Well that's what they call themselves and now I get to be part of them so we call ourselves that collectively. And um, and there are a lot of terrible outcomes with this cancer. You know, if you are experiencing a terrible outcome, you need an additional level of support. So those women are very active in the Facebook group as they should be. So when you get involved in this, um, what you're going to initially see are the worst outcomes and the roughest diagnoses. And then the second thing that I realized is that there are a lot of different ideas about how this kind of cancer should be treated. So that created some confusion for me. And then the third realization is that this type of cancer, when it recurs--there's not been a lot of study about this particular type of cancer because it's rare. But there was a study published, actually, there were two studies published that I was able to, like, I couldn't understand all of that, but I could read the abstract and kind of get the sense of what the researchers were finding. And it was this is a cancer that when it recurs, it recurs 9 to 10 years after the initial diagnosis and the recurrence is often more serious than the initial, um, diagnosis. So that, that continues to be scary to me. So when I got the diagnosis, um, my gynecologist said that I needed to begin treating with a gynecological oncologist, which not every town has, but we do, we do have that here in Tallahassee. And so I met with her. By the time I met with her, I knew what I wanted my treatment plan to be. I had about a week between the two doctor's appointments, between the diagnosis and meeting with the oncologist. And so I had time to formulate my own opinion about what needed to be done. So the options were,--one option was to do nothing because it was possible that all of the cancer was contained in the one ovary that had already been removed. And in fact the pathologist indicated that, that he felt like there had been, what you might hear in a, in another type of cancer surgery, you might hear someone talk about clear margins. The equivalent of that, you know, is sort of what the pathologist was indicating. That um, this was completely within the ovary. It wasn't in the tube, for example, which is connected to the ovary. So there was some indication that maybe it was completely taken care of just with this first surgery. So I didn't know if maybe the, if the oncologist would say, well, we're not going to do anything. Another option would be that the oncologist could say, well, we want to go ahead and remove the other ovary so that nothing like this will grow. A third option was that the gynecologist would say, we want to do a complete hysterectomy, remove every part of the reproductive system, uh, which would put you immediately into menopause. So at age 43, I would go into menopause. And then a fourth option would be we're going to do all of that and we're going to do chemotherapy. But the research I had done said that chemo is not effective on this type of cancer, that it doesn't limit the likelihood of recurrence and that it isn't, um, it isn't effective. Well, it's about half and half. So even on the Facebook group, about half of the women do chemo and about half of them don't. And I didn't want to do chemo unless I knew that I had something active that it would be treating.
Steph: So, so you did your research and you kind of came up with your plan and you are going into your doctor. You're like, I'm ready with I my plan. And then when you got to your doctor, what happened?
Beth: Well, first of all, it was my first time ever going to a Cancer Center. Right? So it was the, um, and the address of it is One Healing Place, which I, I always like, even now when I go back. And I didn't know, I just didn't know what to expect walking into a building that would filled with people who have cancer. And I have to say that at this particular place, it's the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, they do a really good job of making it a lovely place. It's beautiful on the inside and on the out and everyone is so friendly. Like you, I've never encountered a grumpy worker there, whether it's the lady in the snack bar or the people at the front desk. And so the first time I went, I didn't have any idea where to go. It's a big place. And they offer, they have a lot of different oncologists treating different things and, and I started just kind of like, you know, made my way to the first desk. And it's almost like they can tell that it's your first time there, you know? And so they just like embrace you with smiles and so I explained why I was there and went and met with the gynecological oncologist and she said, "okay, I know this. I know this kind of cancer. I have treated it many times. This is what I think is the best thing to do." And she literally articulated exactly the treatment plan I was hoping for. I didn't feel like I had to advocate for myself at all. Right. She said there are some doctors in some parts of the world who use chemotherapy on this type of cancer. I have not found that to be effective with patients, so it is not part of my standard treatment plan. She said, let's do a full hysterectomy. We'll take out the other ovary. The other Fallopian tube, we'll remove every part of the reproductive system. We'll also take out some lymph nodes and we'll wash the inside of your abdomen and collect all of that back and send it all to pathology. And we'll get a really good understanding of how extensive this problem is and maybe--best case scenario--all of the cancer was within the ovary that was removed. And she said, I have to tell you, sometimes people come in and their gynecologist didn't do what your gynecologist did. Sometimes gynecologists cut into these tumors, unknowingly releasing cancer cells throughout, not just the reproductive system, but throughout the abdomen. She said, you're doctor bagged this--she said, I've talked to him on the phone. He has described to me not, not only do I have his records, but I've, I've, you know, verbally spoken with him. Not only did he get the ovary out intact, but he bagged it as he removed it, meaning that any cells that got jostled were also removed. She said, so I think you're going to have a really good outcome because you had a really good first surgery.
Steph: So you had, so you were going to have everything removed. And does that mean that you were going to go into instant menopause?
Beth: Instant menopause!
Steph: That sounds not great. Not Great instant, anything doesn't sound so great.
Steph: So what were your feelings on that?
Beth: Well, my feelings were that only old ladies are in menopause and I didn't want to be an old lady and I didn't want to be 43 and think of myself in that way. Like I thought I had another two decades before I had to worry about it. I also was worried about just how menopause would be and how it would feel and who, who I would be. Because um, I had had some limited experience with folks going through menopause and had found them to be--mean--is maybe the right word? Grumpy? And I didn't want to be, I didn't want to be grumpy and I didn't want to feel like my emotions were out of control and I didn't want to be hot. I don't, I didn't, I thought the idea of hot flashes sounded awful and I didn't, I'm already overweight. I didn't want to be in a situation where I was going to gain more weight because of hormonal changes. Like I just didn't, the whole idea of menopause just sounded awful to me. At that time, I had a pastoral mentor, a pastor who was mentoring me as a pastor. And I remember saying to him that I was really nervous about menopause. He has a great sense of humor. And he said, um, oh that's okay. Menopause is no big deal. You'll be fine. And I said, no. And he's like, well it was fine for me. And I was like, yeah, I think it might be different for us. I think it might be different for a woman going through menopause than for a man is living with a woman going through menopause.
Steph: I know him. Sounds like him. So you had the surgery?
Beth: So I had a radical and complete hysterectomy in December. Uh, again scheduled it for early in the week because I want to get to work. Yeah. Cause I don't, cause I love the people that I serve in my church and I didn't want to not be there for them. I did schedule myself out of the pulpit. So I did miss a Sunday. Um, and really having had it on a Tuesday at that gave me like, you know, almost two weeks before I was back in the whole bit and it was fine. Um, that really was enough time to recover from the surgery itself. In the first surgery, one of the things that I learned is that I knew that I had a sensitivity to adhesive, but one of the things I learned in the first surgery is that I am allergic to the surgical glue. So I ended up having to go back to the doctor and get additional medication and have, um, just an in office kind of procedure to try to remove all the glue because I was itching like crazy. I was so uncomfortable. So in the second surgery, I didn't have any of that glue, any of the surgical glue, but it meant that I was slower to heal. I had more incisions, um, talk about discovering our scars. Right? I have got, um, five really ugly scars and they healed differently after the second surgery because I couldn't have that surgical glue. Well and also the second surgery was just a bigger surgery. You know, they removed more. I was under anesthesia longer. Um, I did, uh, experience it as an outpatient surgery because when they wanted to keep me overnight, I said no because I wanted to go home. Yeah. So the gynecologist came in and she was like, wow, you don't look like you're doing too good. And I was like, I'm doing fine, send me home! And she's like, I'll send somebody back in an hour and we'll see. So I use that hour to get myself together and when the next person came in and I was like, I'm doing great, send me home.
Steph: Goodness. Um, so you mentioned your scars, which is interesting cause that's part of our title. When you look at the scars, what is, uh, what do you think when you look at them?
Beth: I think, yeah, that's the thing that happened.
Steph: Do you think of them as ugly and are you ashamed of them?
Beth: I'm not ashamed of them at all. It isn't a private area, you know, cause it's on my abdomen. It's sort of around my belly button. I am not ashamed of them, but they're also not very visible.
Steph: I was just curious, like if you look at them, do you feel like for me, when I, before I had done a lot of work, when I look at my scars on my arm, I would feel, I'd feel shame in, I'd feel embarrassed and I'd feel upset and mad at myself. And now when I look at them, I feel strength and I feel power and I see all the work that I've done. And so I was curious if when you look at them, if you, you know, don't see ugly scars, if you see these are beautiful scars, these, I have these scars and I'm alive because this happened. And you know, I, I didn't know if there was any kind of specific emotion that happens when you look at them.
Beth: I think I would say I'm not there yet.
Beth: Right? That I, I hope to be there. I hope to, um, it still feels to me partly because of the way this particular cancer works in this lengthy period that can happen before recurrence and because I do have to go every three months and have blood work done and have an exam. Uh, it's still, even though I currently have no cancer anywhere in my body, I should say that right. That that was the outcome that when they did the second surgery and they tested everything and the pathologist looked at everything, including the washing of the abdomen and the lymph nodes and all that, there were no cancer cells. So I'm officially, I am NED, which is no evidence of disease, which is really good. That's where you want to be. Um, I mean, I think it's sort of where most of the most of us are. Um, it's just that once you have cancer, they'll never say that you're like cancer free. For some forms of cancer, they'll say, oh, you're in remission. Or like in my case they'll say, NED, no evidence of disease. In terms of the scars, I hope to get to that point where I can look at them and go, this is something that is completely behind me and this was a blip on the radar. It really was a blip. I mean I, because they were able to treat it surgically and I didn't have to have any radiation. I didn't have to take any chemotherapy. It didn't slow me down in my seminary work. Right. I didn't have to miss a semester. I didn't take a year off or any of that. Missed one Sunday at church. I didn't preach two Sundays. I had somebody come in the next Sunday and I led worship and he preached, but it really didn't--
Steph: Completely disrupt your world?
Beth: Right. It didn't prevent anything that I was trying to achieve from happening.
Steph: Since you said this kind of cancer is like nine years, could reoccur kind of things, do you, when you see those scars, is that something that kind of pops in your head and it kind of reminds you that there still could be more there?
Beth: Yeah, it does. Remind me of it.
Steph: Am I reminding of that right now?
Beth: You are reminding me of it right now.
Steph: I'm so sorry about that--
Beth: It's okay. Um, it's also an issue with the, with being active on the Facebook group because having had the best case scenario, I never, I never interact there as if to say like, oh my, my situation is a standard situation or poor you and Yay me, I had the best case and you didn't. But it is hard to read the stories of the women who are, you know, I was stage 1A, it's hard to read a story of someone who is stage 3C which is you know, a really advanced form and is dealing with now dealing with liver cancer and with, with maybe breast cancer, you know, just sort of a more dispersed in widespread cancer that all originates from this form of GCT. It's really hard to read their stories cause it's still scary. It's still scary.
Steph: Now that you've, you've gone through this, you know, you're, I guess I think the term is cancer survivor. Would that be a term?
Beth: I'm claiming that term!
Steph: I think that's the term! At the beginning we said, what do we call you? I think cancer survivor is very accurate because you have survived it. You're still, you can't say you're a hundred percent clear, but you're surviving and thriving.
Beth: Right. I have no active cancer in my body.
Steph: Yeah. That's amazing.
Beth: Yeah. I, so I kicked cancer's ass!
Steph: Boom! Done!
Beth: You can bleep that if you need,
Steph: I don't know. I'll have to, I'll just see if we can give that in. I'm curious. I have definitely experienced cancer in my life. I'm curious though, when someone tells me they have cancer, I don't really know how to react and I want to react correctly, but I always feel like I don't, and I just, how did you want people to react when you told them you had cancer? And that's my question.
Beth: Yeah, it's a good, it's a good question. And I have learned a lot by being on the other side of it. I have learned some things so that I handle myself differently now in those situations, the big takeaway for me is that now I go out of my way to give people permission to feel their feelings. Sometimes when I hear that someone is sick, I might try to fix it for them. I might try to minimize it. "Oh, I know 10 people who've been through that and, and, and they got through it just fine and you're going to be just fine too," as if that's offering someone hope. It turns out that when you hear it that way, if you're the person who's dealing with the diagnosis, it doesn't feel hopeful. It feels dismissive. So when you say, um, "oh, that won't be any big deal," that doesn't actually create a sense of hope.
Steph: So it sounds like really you want people just to listen and to hear you and not to offer suggestions or fixes for it just to be in that moment with you.
Beth: Yeah, and it's okay to say that's awful or I'm sorry that you're going through that. That's okay. I mean sometimes I think sometimes people experience that as unwanted pity. That wasn't the case for me. I've experienced it as empathy and it felt appropriate to me. I didn't want anybody to try to fix it because I didn't want anybody to be responsible for me and for my feelings. So now that's why I try to tell people whatever you're feeling is okay and you're probably scared and that's okay and you probably don't want other people's sympathy and that's okay. And you know, you need time and space to figure this out for yourself and that's okay.
Steph: So do you feel like now that you've gone through this, if somebody, you know, if I came to you and I said I have cancer, do you know, do you feel like you would be able to, you know, handle that situation better than you could have before?
Beth: Definitely. And the first thing that I would do if you came to me and said I have cancer is I would ask you questions. I would show that I was interested in what you are going through and I would not try to minimize it and I would just try to help you process it. And at the same time I would become educated. Right. "What kind? How do you know? What is the doctor telling you?" The other thing having gone through this that I would say is, and I, I said this once already, but I just want to reiterate this, that when you get a diagnosis like this, the Internet is a really scary place, but it is a necessary tool. So maybe acknowledging that for, for someone when they get a diagnosis like this to say you're probably going to read a lot of scary stuff on the Internet. You know, just keep in mind that there are a variety of outcomes and experiences and do your research, do your due diligence, but don't let yourself go to the darkest place because maybe that's not where you're headed.
Steph: And we want to remind you all that we have a website that you can visit. It is called dospod.us and they'll also be a link below in the show description. On our website, we have all of our show notes from every show. You can find our contact information, you can email us, you can find our what our phone number. All of that fun stuff is on our website, dospod.us. And we also want to hear from you. We want to hear your voice. So we have a voicemail number that we've set up that uh, you can call in and answer the question of the day. So today's question. Oh, the phone number is (850) 270-3308 and Beth, what is today's question?
Beth: So today's question is we just want to know what's your favorite book or your favorite TV show. What are you really into? Maybe it'll be something that we already know about, but maybe it'll be something new to us. So we want you to call in to that number that Steph gave you and tell us what is your favorite book or TV show.
Steph: So Beth this was an intense episode. It was all about cancer. And I am so excited that we got to hear from you about that experience because I wanted to know more about that. So selfishly, I'm glad we talked about it. Um, I am curious, you had a lot to share today, but I'm curious if you had any takeaways from today.
Beth: Yeah, my takeaway is that question you asked me about my scars has really got me thinking, which is so appropriate because it's how things work with us in our honest conversations is that it gets me thinking. So to think about what do I think about when I see those scars and why do I see it as ongoing instead of done, instead of: cancer survivor. Um, and what do I need to be able to do to transition myself emotionally in that direction. That'll be helpful. What about you? Do you have a take away? Cause you're right, I did talk a lot.
Steph: I think my takeaway--cancer is a scary thing. Anytime I hear the word cancer is just, it's overwhelming because there is so much to it. There's so many types and it's hard for me to wrap my brain around it because of all those reasons. Um, and I think what I took from today is to not be afraid to ask somebody in my life that has cancer, not to be afraid to really dig in and say, to ask them about it, until allow them to talk about it and to not feel like I have to fix it and how that I have to have answers to it. That it's okay to ask somebody about it. And be genuinely interested and ask questions.
Beth: It's true. When you try to avoid it, it's gonna feel like, you know, that expression of an elephant in the room and it's almost like you're avoiding that part of the person.
Beth: And so you have permission, you know, if they don't wanna talk about it, they'll tell you that. Yeah. They're used to that. Having that as a, I'm a frequent topic of conversation. Even now, you know, when I run into people who I haven't seen in a couple of months, I get that. How ARE you, you know, like they don't want to say how's it going with that ovarian cancer thing? Yeah. And so then I have to be the one to bring it up. It would be much better if people would just say, I've been wondering how's it going with that?
Steph: At the end of each episode we want to share questions for reflection and these are questions that we have written based on the episode and this is just something for you to write in a journal to answer out loud to yourself, whatever works. We're also going to leave a little bit of time between each question so you can pause the podcast if you're in your car and answer the questions for yourself. There'll be a link to them on our website as well and the show notes. If you don't want to answer the questions, we will see you next next week.
Beth: Questions for Reflection. Think about a time when you or someone you know has been given an unexpected diagnosis. What was your initial reaction? Do you judge your own feelings? Why? What would it cost you to just live in your feelings? Do other people's feelings make you uncomfortable? Why is that?
Steph: This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcasts. See you next time.
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Mental Health Advocate. Author. Podcast Host. DIYer. Greyhound Mom.
I'm a mom who laughs a lot, mainly at myself. #UMC Pastor, recent Seminary grad, public speaker, blogger, and sometimes lawyer. Learning to #LiveLoved.