I Have Cancer, Cancer Doesn't Have Me.
“On February 12, 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I've had 6 rounds of chemo, surgery and additional chemo treatments. The beast is spreading and does not want to let go.” says Tyra Smith - Ovarian Cancer Survivor
Meet Tyra Smith, ovarian cancer survivor. We met Tyra during one of our scarf gifting days at Creticos Cancer Center - Advocate Illinois Masonic on May 2018. When we gifted Tyra a headscarf she unwrapped the most beautiful smile as we gifted her a scarf. Her journey has been tough, but her resilience and driven purpose in life are tougher. Tyra shared with us her experience with ovarian cancer.
Tell us about your diagnosis. How did learned about it?
I had digestive issues and was losing rate rapidly. My stomach bloated, I looked 5-6 months pregnant. My doctor ordered a CT scan and the results showed ovarian cancer.
What was the most challenging part of your journey?
At the beginning I was retaining fluid. It caused me to have shortness of breath and fatigue. I also had trouble eating and a lot of abdominal pain.
Tell us about your hair loss due to chemotherapy (how did it feel, what did you choose to wear over your bald head?, how did you cope with it?
A couple of weeks after my first chemo session. My scalp was tender and my hair started to fall out. So I had my husband cut it. I took a picture and posted it on Facebook. My family and friends all gave me such positive responses and that really lifted my spirt. I wore hats and scarfs. I tried wigs, but I still haven't found one that I feel comfortable wearing.
If you were a recipient of a Courage for the Soul Scarf, please share how did you feel when you received your scarf? Did the scarf changed or helped how you felt about your hair loss?
Courage for the Soul gifted me with my scarf during one of my chemo sessions. It was a wonderful surprise. I really like that the scarf also included an instruction sheet with many ways to wear the scarf. It made dealing with my hair loss easier.
How did your diagnosis impacted your life?
Being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian has been hard. At the beginning it was hard getting around and I had trouble walking stairs. Many women die from this disease. So I decided to stay active. I go to yoga class once or twice a week. I also worked while going through chemo treatment.
What brought you courage and strength during treatment?
My husband, family, friends and prayer have given me strength and courage during my treatment.
Share something you learned during your journey.
I realized that I'm stronger than I thought that I was.
Given what you know now, please share words of encouragement with other women facing cancer?
Don’t put off your mammograms. Listen to your body. Currently there isn’t a test to detect ovarian cancer. So check out anything that doesn't feel or seem right. Ovarian is a silent cancer and the symptoms often mask themselves as other ailments.
Share with us one of your favorite inspirational quotes.
I often say to myself, I have cancer, cancer doesn't have me.
Tyra, thank you for sharing your inspiring journey with us. Sending you light, love, and courage.