The Ovarian Cancer Chronicles Part 6: The Bottom

The Ovarian Cancer Chronicles Part 6: The Bottom
| by Antra Boyd

Editor's note: This is part 6 in a series of introspective blogs written by Antra Boyd, iRNPA detailing her personal journey as an Independent Patient Advocate and recurrent ovarian cancer patient.

You didn’t think I was going to skip “the bottom” did you? I am compelled to be FREAL (F*^#ing Real), so here it goes.

I hit the bottom a week ago this past Saturday night at 2:00 am. I hit it hard. Everything I thought I knew, well, just everything came crashing down around me. And have you ever cried, I mean really cried and felt your pain and suffering to the point that the only thing to do was to feel it some more because it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon? I simmered in it all night long and into the next day, down at the very bottom of rock bottom. Funny, that during it occurred to me to use a “life line”. You know, phone a friend, text a cry for help, check my phone to escape the feeling, take a valium (or three) to blunt it. I made a somewhat lazy attempt to do all of those things but didn’t. I think somewhere in me, I knew I had to stay with it.

I have spent the last six weeks of this with a “You got this” attitude. You know, you see it all the time in the world of cancer, at least. The endless “Fuck Cancer, Cancer Warrior, Fight Cancer”. So mixed up in my head, that a positive mindset sends you on the path to healing. That if you fight it, you will end victorious. The word “fight” assumes I am going to TRY my hardest to beat this thing. I am so tired of trying and I am exhausted from the endless litany of meditations, daily gratitudes, staying strong, and keeping positive. The bottom, while full of grief and sadness, was also a relief.

I just saw that the universe, God(dess), Mind (or whatever you call it) could have its way with me. I mean really have its way. Caring less about the outcome, no more trying, no more “you just gotta be strong” and definitely no more bravery when I am not feeling brave. I must say. I am exhausted. Remember what Dr. Zhang told me, “You’re too tired.” Gee, not shit. But also, I will not turn away from the pain, grief, and sadness.

Here’s why. Did I ever tell you the story of fifteen year old me and the movie Cocoon. For all you Gen X-er’s, you know the movie. Everybody else? Basically, it’s about a group of trespassing seniors who swim in a pool of alien cocoons and find themselves energized with youthful vigor. Um, I could really use some of that right about now.

It was not so much the movie as what happened to me during the movie. There is a scene where one of the Aliens (dressed in human form) takes off her human skin and what is left is a body of light. I disappeared during that scene, as in I forgot I was even watching the movie. I forgot who I was, and in that moment, saw the truth of who I really am: “Be still and know that I am God”. And then I promptly forgot about the experience even though I saw that I am peace, love and light. We all are, actually. It’s why I don’t feel compelled to “fight” in the way we are told we must in order to beat this.

When I remember this simple truth, the truth of who we really are, all the rest just drops away.

It’s Monday. I am not simmering at the bottom anymore. I did, in fact, pick myself up and showered, brushed my teeth, ate some breakfast and aside from treatment, spent the rest of the day in my bed staring at the grey wall in front of me. By Tuesday things looked a bit brighter, a bit cheerier, I hung out with my brother who I adore, ate dinner with my sister who is my other half, I talked to my besties and my beautiful girl, and my husband flew in for the weekend.

That meltdown was just the beginning, I’m sure. It was a shedding of many things, some I know, some I don’t. I imagine it like this: there is a door and I have opened it, and while I cannot see far beyond the door it feels as if I have invited the universe in to show me the how of healing, to guide my way, and all I am called to do is surrender all of it over and listen.

I am game.

And then I forget and get caught up all over again. The thing is, it really doesn’t matter if I go into meltdown 2.0, 3.0, or 4.0, well, you get the idea. I wonder, in not trying so hard to heal and letting my feelings be whatever they are, maybe that is where healing comes from in the first place? Less resistance. Less focus on what’s wrong, less projecting scary stories into the future and less despair over “why me?”. More time in the present moment, which is all we really have anyhow, right?

And on a funnier note:

On Wednesday when I saw Dr. Zhang for treatment I asked him how I was doing. You know, he assesses my pulses and my tongue which, when I look in a mirror it always looks exactly the same to me, so I have no clue what he is looking for. He told me I have three systems coming back “online” (lungs, kidneys, and digestion). I asked him about the other two, my heart and liver. He looks at me and says, “You’ve only been here for a week and a half, I’m not God, Jesus Christ.”


Read Antra Boyd's previous blogs related to this topic: