OyChicago blog

The scars that lie beneath

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11/14/2011

Jenna Benn photo 

As I had the scar removed that held the memories of the last 10 months, I came to the realization that it’s the scars that lie beneath the skin that cut the deepest and are the hardest to repair.

The surgeon did his best to slowly and methodically cut me open, and attempt to rewrite history—however my gaping wound instead revealed the heartache and pain that swells beneath the skin.

As I was sliced open and re-stitched, it became clear that my fight, my battle, my journey continues—this time with new challenges, surprises, and also blessings.

Last night I was informed that the chemotherapy regimen that saved my life has also attempted to rob me of my ability to have children.
The damage to my ovaries is extensive.
The outcome is not favorable.
I am now 30 years old and in menopause.

I have decided to write about this candidly because I don’t think there is enough awareness about the fertility risks associated with chemotherapy. Treating the entire person rather than only targeting the cancer is critical to the way a survivor fights, and the way a survivor rebuilds after treatment. The silence makes us feel ashamed when we have nothing to be ashamed of.

There is a common misconception that when a cancer survivor’s treatment ends their life can then restart. Unfortunately, this journey does not stop and start from diagnosis to remission, but rather is continuous.

It’s not about winning or losing, succeeding or failing but rather the challenge is to find meaning in the suffering.

I have had my fertility taken, but I am not less of a woman.
I have been robbed repeatedly, but I am not damaged.
I have been tested and challenged, but I am not defeated.

Instead I believe that from tragedy comes great opportunity, and from suffering comes profound clarity.

While my ovaries may have been abruptly taken, I refuse to allow this disease, this experience, to rob me of becoming a mother.

As cancer continues to throw punches, I choose to fight harder.
As cancer attempts to break me, I choose to rise above her.

My decision to go through fertility treatments shaped the way I fought against this disease and continues to provide me with hope that I will one day be the parent who is able to impart what it means to live a life full of gratitude.

I have been blessed with a set of parents whose hearts are filled with love, whose support is all encompassing, and who have set an example of how to manage the most difficult of circumstances. I hope to one day lead by their example.

Until then,
I will continue to pick myself up, push back, fight harder—and twist in spite of cancer.

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