I have incorporated writing and journaling into my daily life since I was a preteen. They were some of the things I found helpful when I faced sexual abuse, divorce, alcoholic parents, untimely deaths, and then my diagnosis of ovarian cancer. My journal became a book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir [Amazon link], once I realized there were so few books about this too often deadly disease. I wanted to offer women information and inspiration.
When I heard the words, “You have cancer,” I reacted with fear and anger, like most people probably do. Two days after hearing those fateful words, I began to tap into those resources that I have always used to not only live my daily life, but also to face the different challenges outlined above. I immediately began journaling on an almost daily basis; followed a diet highly recommended for cancer patients; practiced meditation daily; exercised; surrounded myself with positive thinking and humor; welcomed the love and support from family and friends; and most importantly, put my faith in God.
I am a registered nurse, yet even I misunderstood the subtle or whispering symptoms I was experiencing. What post-menopausal woman does not have a bloating abdomen? How many women experience an urgency or frequency to urinate? Is that pain in my abdomen due to a strain, or pre-menstrual sign, constipation or gas, or is it actually due to the low back? Yes, these are some of the common symptoms in addition to spotting of blood, excessive fatigue, changes in appetite, and painful intercourse. The recommendation is that if these symptoms persist more than 2 weeks, the woman should seek medical evaluation; and surgery and treatment be done by a gynecologic-oncologist.
No one goes through life without facing some kind of challenge. The following are examples of typical challenges: serious illness, catastrophic financial loss, divorce, loss of employment, or death of a child or loved one. How does one face a life-changing event? I believe there are only two ways. One way, is to let the event win and the person “lives” in anger, jealousy, or hatred. Or, a person can truly live by turning the event into a positive, and there are many ways to do that. I believe that the real me, and the real you, can outshine cancer, divorce, death, or any challenge.
The Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida, and the “Bright Spots” group at Mayo Clinic have endorsed my book. Oncologists and an author of books on grief have provided either written or verbal positive reviews. I have received positive feedback via emails, cards, telephone calls and person-to-person meetings. After reading Outshine, a gentleman who has no connection with ovarian cancer recently stated that he has learned a lot and appreciated its deep message; survivors have expressed gratefulness; and families of those who have passed on shared how much they were helped.
It may sound like a cliché, but a powerful lesson cancer taught me is that each day truly is a gift. As Walt Whitman said, “To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.” I do try to live each day with dignity and love as if it were my last. It is amazing how much more beautiful life is since I heard “you have cancer,” because I know I have a finite time. That actually energizes and inspires me.
My book, the presentations and beautiful people that have come into my life are some of the positive results of having had cancer. I like to think that my skill in writing is God’s gift to me, and the book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, is my gift to God.
~What a powerful message from a very special woman and author. To learn more about Karen Ingalls visit the following links:
Be sure to return tomorrow and Friday for more words of inspiration from Ingalls and have a chance to take advantage of a very special offer.
Karen Ingalls’s book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir will be available at a 40% discount from Wednesday March 6 thru Wednesday March 13. Visit BeaversPondBooks.com and type the word "Outshine" in the coupon box. Enjoy!