I’m Outshining Ovarian Cancer
by Karen Ingalls
Leading up to my cancer diagnosis, I noticed that I had gained a few pounds and developed a protruding stomach, both of which were unusual for me since I had always bordered on being underweight. But I never considered these changes to be anything other than normal postmenopausal aging. When I continued to gain weight, I began an aggressive exercise and weight-loss program.
Fast forward to three months later when a CT scan revealed a very large tumor in my left lower abdomen. I scheduled an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist for the next day, and a week later, I had a hysterectomy and colon resection that confirmed I had a rare, aggressive form of ovarian cancer – malignant mixed Müllerian tumor.
An important lesson I learned early in life is the beauty of the soul outshines any negative experience, including cancer.
The word cancer elicits fear in most everyone, yet often the things we fear are never quite as great as the fear itself. At a young age, I learned that attitude, acceptance, and determination are the keys to facing fear and healing the body, mind, and spirit. So when facing the challenge of cancer, I stayed positive – learning, growing, and putting my best healing efforts forward – the whole way through. I did not focus on being cured of the cancer; rather I focused on living my life with dignity and learning all I could from my new role as a woman with cancer.
Like many others traveling this road, I have experienced valleys and mountaintops, darkness and sunshine. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I have learned a lot about myself and have met some incredible people along the way. The challenge of ovarian cancer was an opportunity for me to become a better person. My life is far richer now, and my mission is to spread the word about this disease. I truly see each moment as a gift that is not to be taken for granted but lived to its fullest with love. An important lesson I learned early in life, which was reinforced with the challenge of ovarian cancer, is the beauty of the soul outshines any negative experience, including cancer.
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Karen Ingalls is an ovarian cancer survivor living in Central Florida. She is the author of Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir (OutshineOvarianCancer.com), a volunteer with the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida and Women for Hospice, a public speaker, and an advocate for ovarian cancer awareness. Karen blogs about health and wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer at OutshineOvarianCancer.blogspot.com.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, January/February 2014.