The Power of Storytelling
Through publicly sharing my ovarian cancer journey on multiple platforms over the past 3 years or so, I’ve admittedly received (and wholeheartedly accepted) numerous opportunities to speak with dozens of individuals and organizations—many of whom are fighting every day to raise awareness and find a cure for this horrible disease.
My experience sharing my story
Earlier this year, I was flown to Gainesville, Florida, to share my diagnosis story at an event scheduled to take place after a 5k run/walk in support of ovarian cancer research. I also attended the event with two other ovarian cancer survivors. The 3 of us were hand-selected, and worked closely with a nonprofit group dedicated to the craft of storytelling, to meticulously curate and rehearse our stories over several weeks leading up to the event.
Facing a new challenge in my advocacy
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that forced me to face several of my biggest fears—not only public speaking but I was also challenged to memorize a nearly 15-minute monologue. Since I was diagnosed in 2019, a year before the pandemic, this was my first time sharing my story on-stage, in front of a live audience. In the past, I’ve shared my story on prerecorded video clips, or via online live-streaming. The adrenaline I felt that day was unlike anything I’d experienced before. The rewarding satisfaction that followed inspires me to gladly accept any further opportunities that may come my way.
Connecting to others with advanced ovarian cancer
Immediately after the storytelling event ended, a number of people approached me and thanked me for being vulnerable and sharing such a heart-wrenching story, especially because this wasn’t just any story. This happened to me, and it took place only a few years ago. The wound is still relatively fresh.
These audience members' words of encouragement only continue to reinforce a quote I came across shortly after being diagnosed, “One day you will tell your story of how you've overcome what you are going through now and it will become part of someone else's survival guide.” So many women in active treatment have told me how my story inspires them and provides them with a sense of hope that they will have the same outcome.
But the truth is, unfortunately not all of us advanced ovarian cancer patients share the same odds. I am all too familiar with the statistics, and I have witnessed so much loss within the ovarian cancer community since I was first diagnosed.
Fear and hope for what the future holds
Now that I am approaching four years NED (no evidence of disease), I also feel this immense pressure as if I will be a disappointment if a recurrence were to occur, especially as more time goes by. I often feel like a ticking time bomb, but I simply don’t want the happy ending to my story to be compromised. And more than anything, I don’t want others to lose hope. Despite these fears that pass through my mind on a near-daily basis, I continue to stay strong and share my survival story for the sake of my teal sisters.
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