I’m Melanie. I am a cancer survivor and also a professional sales and accountability coach. I have also written a book called “Becoming ovary Jones”.
Symptoms and diagnosis
My story started with a little tingle in my back which used to get worse at night. So I went to the doctor because I couldn’t sleep. They gave me medicine but it didn’t get better. I switched doctors but it started getting worse. Within a couple of months, I felt like being electrocuted at night. Finally on New Year’s Eve 2018, after some imaging, the doctor asked me to go to an oncologist. It took me a few days to finally get in with an oncologist. She admitted me into the hospital.
I had to go through bone biopsies and imaging. The oncologist said that I had stage four ovarian cancer which had metastasized to my hip. A grapefruit-size tumour in my thoracic spine was crushing my spinal column. This explained the sensations of being electrocuted. And so I didn’t know at the time that I didn’t have a very good outlook, having only an 11% survival rate.
I had radiation to get the tumour off of my spinal column. This was followed by a full hysterectomy and chemo. Everything happened very fast and the doctors made all the decisions for me because it was such a crisis. It was such an urgent situation. So I didn’t have the luxury of going to a second opinion or trying to come up with a different treatment plan.
I adopted a plant-based diet and I started meditating. I started really focusing on my mindset, and my fellow coaches really helped me with that. And I later learned that 70% of physicians believe that attitude really does matter in a cancer journey.
Fear of side effects and treatments
Fear is a very reasonable emotion to a cancer diagnosis. People often encourage others to suppress those feelings and just be positive, be happy. I don’t think that that’s a very good plan. I think that we have to feel and work through all of those emotions. I think the support of my loving family and my fellow coaches helped to let me feel all my emotions. It gave me the grace to work through all of my emotions. One of my fellow coaches told me to throw a tantrum or a pity party but I need to put a timer on it. She asked me to cry when I needed to cry. This helps me be able to process not only happy emotions but all of them.
Message to cancer patients and caregivers
I ask them to not give up their hopes. I think of Hope as an acronym for Hang On Pain Ends. I think it’s really a beautiful thing to realize that in the future, you’re likely going to forget the nuances and the little details of what you’re going through. With this mindset, you can have a growing experience to get to a better place in your life. And I think it also makes us more compassionate and empathetic. That’s what I really love about the cancer community. We’re bound together and have empathy and love for one another. No matter where you are in the world, cancer patients can come together very easily. It’s like we understand each other and we have empathy toward each other. I love serving the cancer community and helping them to adopt a healing mindset.
There needs to be awareness that there are stigmas. I have come to know from so many of the cancer patients who have been on my podcast. They often say that they’ve had cancer shame or cancer guilt. I didn’t have time to have any guilt or shame about my cancer diagnosis. I was just fighting for my life. But these people have experienced intense cancer shame. They didn’t want to let anybody else know that they had cancer. They wanted to hide it.
I would like to recommend that we lean into the humanity of this experience, and tap into support groups and to family and to friends, and all of those people that truly love us. We can ask for their help to deal with this because we can’t just ignore the feeling of guilt or the feeling of shame. But we can really explore it logically and challenge that feeling and decide whether it is something that I want to continue. Or, I want to choose a healthier mindset to let go of that shame and guilt to find grace in my journey.
About my book
I wrote Becoming Ovary Jones, a journey on how to Fight Cancer Without Losing Your Mind, because of that doctor who said mindset impacts outcomes. I needed to get this message out. So I took the paper and pen at first, and I wrote the book. Then I realized that I need to go further. And when I was going through my cancer journey, I really looked for miracles. I was Googling miracles and stories and things like your survivor stories like this. And I was always craving those things.
That’s why I wanted to create a platform for survivors to share their stories. This led to the creation of “The Ovary Jones Show” in which we interview cancer survivors. It doesn’t matter what type of cancer you have, but in the mind, we’re all Ovary Jones. We’re all in this thing together. So it’s my way of tipping my hat to all of those cancer fighters that came before us and the fighters now and reaching out our hands to those who are soon to be diagnosed to give them hope, love, and encouragement.