Ovarian Cancer Grad- Maria
Name: Maria Jose Martínez del Rosal Arroyave
Age at Enrollment: 38
Major: Papillary Serous Cystadenocarcinoma 3B Stage
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis?
Stomach and lower back ache, swollen all the time, and later a lump below the navel the size of a marble
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor?
Surgery and chemo
What has been your biggest struggle since your diagnosis?
Fighting the disease and the feeling that this shitty thing would never let go. I was in remission about a year and a half, and then, the feeling of having to go back to chemo again… crushed me. I’m stand on my feet again, and doing what I need to do to get better.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) thus far and how did you you get through it/them?
The first diagnosis was the hardest moment, the doctor said I basically had six months. I have a little girl, which at that moment was young (almost 3 years old). My husband, who is very strong, was devastated. It was a hard hard moment to get through. But after that, after rock bottom, all we had left was to stand up, so I did it, WE did it, as a family. And 3 years later, I’m still here living my life, seeing my little princess grow, and getting thanking God for letting me be here.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since your diagnosis?
Change. I changed my habits (more exercise, better diet, more healthy weight), changed my ways of thinking and acting. I let go all the things and people that didn’t sum up in my life, and improved myself to become a better human being.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed?
The first diagnosis doesn't define what's going to happen to you. Fight for your life, it is the most important thing you're going to do ever.
What advice would you tell them to ignore?
“Don’t do chemo”. Even when I know comes from a good place, from love or whatever, I think it’s terrible, terrible advice. Some people think chemo is worse than cancer, and its ok, they have their own opinion, but for me, chemo is the way to kill cancer. I do alternative therapies beside chemo-meditation, diet chance, essential oils, etc. but I did't stop doing chemo.
How did your family and friends respond?
With lots and lots of LOVE! They take care of me, help me with all the things I have to do, are a solid rock at this hard time. Especially my husband- I’m a very lucky lady, this man is such a blessing.
Since your diagnosis, what does it look like to you to “get back up”?
Well, it’s been hard economically speaking, and getting back to the “real” world after this feels like it is not the same world I left a few months ago. But in general it’s a brighter life, and I appreciate more with what I have been blessed.
When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do?
I meditate and put a lot of essential oils over me!!! LOL
What did you know about the type of cancer that you were diagnosed with prior to your diagnosis?
What do you now want people to be aware?
Symptoms, and letting aside the fear of hearing a cancer diagnosis. The sooner the better it is to treat cancer.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it?
Now I feel my life is a gift, a precious gift I have the opportunity to have every single day. Every morning I pray and give thanks to be alive, to have the opportunity to see my husband, my child. I talk to people recently diagnosed. I know how hard it can be to feel that no one understands how you feel, but when you talk to somebody who was in the exact same situation you are, you feel understood. I belong to a support group in my country for women diagnosed with cancer and helping others makes me feel my situation has a purpose.
How did/do you find joy during this experience?
When I made a list of shitty things versus good things that happened to me, good things make up a lot more than the shitty things. That's where I found my joy, in the daily blessings in spite of cancer.
Since your diagnosis, what new belief, habit or behavior has most improved your quality of life? Prayer, meditation, essential oils and change of diet.
Did you learn anything about yourself or your life? If so, what was it?
I learned I'm stronger than I believe, and that I'm capable of anything that I'm want to do. And that my life was very blessed even when I didn’t notice.
If you could write anything you wanted on a billboard in NYC’s Times Square that would reach millions of people, what would it read?
As long as your are breathing, there is more good with you than wrong with you.