Thank you to Dr. Shieva Ghofrany for sharing your story with us, we are inspired by your message of gratitude and 'living the crap out of life'!
Check out big love, fierce juju to learn more about Shieva's experiences as an ob/gyn, mom, cafe owner, ovarian cancer "experiencer" and more!
“I can’t believe I have to tell you this” said Dr. W., my gyn oncology surgeon, as she sat on the edge of my bed, five days after my surgery to remove a painful ovarian cyst—one that we had INITIALLY hoped was benign, but then intra-operatively found out was labelled a “borderline” tumor (or rather, a VERY early stage ovarian cancer that is “cured” with a hysterectomy, removal of ovaries and tubes and evaluation of the lymph nodes). As it turns out, the “final” pathology of my tumor was, in fact, what is termed “invasive” cancer, and thus my doctor (who had been one of the surgeons to train me during residency 17 years prior, making this especially emotionally challenging for her) was here to inform me of the news, and what was therefore to follow.
“And I can’t believe I have to tell you that you’ll need 18 weeks of chemotherapy” (ooof…that “punched-in-the-gut-feeling”), but what she said next was the MOST important, “BUT YOU WILL BE FINE. YOUR PROGNOSIS IS EXCELLENT”.
There you have it. The words that could NOT be taken back. The phrase that meant that life was FOREVER different. BC vs AC in a literal and personal way, before cancer and after cancer. And while I CANNOT explain it, I can say with 10000% confidence, that what I FELT AND SAID in the millisecond AC was this, “SOOOOO ok, 18 weeks, and then I will be DONE right? My father CANNOT outlive me, it would kill him….I’m going to be FINE”. I knew I was ok, maybe because I ACTUALLY knew it, maybe because I WANTED to know it, maybe because deflecting any anxiety onto the notion that it was not “I” that was worried, but that in fact I was needing to think about someone “else”, maybe maybe maybe….
But that was that, my life had changed in that millisecond and DARE I SAY IT, it changed for the better. I don’t want to be airy and flippant, I am FULLY aware that my “feeling” in that moment MAY have been born from a combination of ignorance, wishful thinking, my desire to adhere to the idealogy of “manifesting” and yes, even flagrant denial. BUT it was also the result of a response to cold hard STATISTICS (greater than 80-90% 5 year survival given my ovarian cancer was stage 2) AND faith in my provider—MY DOCTOR WARMLY BUT FACTUALLY TOLD ME “YOU WILL BE FINE”. What more did I need? This event was yet one more I could look at as an “experience”, one that my very skilled MD told me I would be fine from, and one that I could use to teach and highlight health and healing to my patients.
I believe DEEPLY that we all need to nurture a duality in our brain/mind/soul/body. A CONCRETE sense of adapting to events by holding on to cold, hard facts and statistics MIXED with an EMOTIONAL sense of “knowing” in our heart that “we will be fine”. I joke that a “healthy dose of denial” that allows a person/patient to “believe” that all will be well, all the while staying the course and moving ahead with treatment, seems to be the perfect 1-2 punch to get many of us through.
Cancer has meant many things to me—i wouldn’t say it was a “wake up call to appreciate life” because, as many would agree (i hope!!) I DEFINITELY lived my life in the presence of gratitude always. Nor would I say that I learned “life is short”, in fact, I jokingly respond, when asked that specific query, “NOPE, in fact I learned that IF life is SHORT, then I’ve already done a lot…but if, in fact as I think and hope, life is LONG—then I’d better live the CRAP out of it and not let it be boring!!”.
BUT what has been highlighted to me in my own methods of how I live my life are some of the more concrete/obvious things—like eating healthier and moving by body more and treating my body as the true vital vessel that it is; also that my inner mind and “spiritual” life and relationship with the intangible and ethereal elements of living are of PARAMOUNT importance to living a life filled with meaning and purpose and ultimately happiness; AND it hammered in, once again, my daily ticker-tape in my mind: that as BAD as something I experienced may have been, it could ALWAYS be so much worse, so it cemented my goal to be grateful NOT when things are going well, but in fact even MORESO when I am in the DEPTHS of the really difficult, trying events. To be able to be grateful during THOSE times helps build a strength that showers the future ups and downs with a veil of ability to conquer all.
Read more about Shieva's experience and Standing Up to Cancer. .