Fighting cancer can also be a path to spiritual healing

Apart from the organs I was left without, I was especially affected by hair loss. For eight months, it was a question of identity for me

(Photo Ansplesh)

I am a representative of the Association “Progovori”, a member of the Working Group for Patient Support at the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia and vice president of the Forum of Patients of Serbia. Six years ago, I contracted ovarian cancer. I was diagnosed with the disease in November 2014, when a cyst on my ovary burst, which had previously turned into cancer. After the first operation, the finding showed that it was the most deadly gynecological cancer, and another operation followed about twenty days later. My ovaries, uterus, part of the abdominal tissue and part of the lymph glands were removed, and then six chemotherapy treatments followed. Thus begins my real struggle for life. Psychological is conducted in parallel. Much heavier. I was bigger than what happened to me. I told myself that I had to heal, regardless of the fact that it was beyond all limits of the bearable and unbearable.

The two most difficult moments were the knowledge that I was suffering from a vicious disease and – hair loss. Even today, the words of my doctor resonate in my head, and she told me with great difficulty that I had cancer. My life changed radically in a second. After the first shock, I had to see what external and internal resources I had at my disposal in order to start a long and painful struggle. The disease does not come overnight, so healing cannot come quickly. Of the two difficult surgeries, I first had to physically recover and prepare for chemotherapy. A varied balanced diet helped me strengthen my body, even though I lost a lot of weight. In parallel with strengthening the body, I also strengthened the psyche, because everything comes from the head.

I self-suggestively told myself that I would overcome the disease, that I was stronger than it and that it (the disease) was only a transient condition. The most important segment in my healing is also the spiritual … Because without the spiritual, there is no physical healing. Sickness is the path to spiritual healing. It’s a temptation I just had to go through. I went to monasteries and churches, read spiritual literature, talked to monks and priests … That helped me create an inner peace that was my greatest wealth. From that peace, I looked at illness, people, problems, work, life differently. At first I was scared. Fear of illness, uncertainty, but as time went on and I became stronger spiritually and mentally, he lost his strength, because faith was stronger. Otherwise, fear is the biggest enemy in situations like this, it drags to the bottom and sinks.

In addition to the organs I was left without, I was particularly affected by hair loss. I was bald for eight months. It’s not just hair loss, it was a question of identity for me. When I looked in the mirror, I wondered if it was me. But the hair has grown, thank God, and the diseased organs will not return … I went through various psychological phases, but on that path there was a huge support of my loved ones – family, family, friends, colleagues, without which I could not do. Also, professional psychological help was invaluable to me. At the Institute of Oncology and Radiology of Serbia, while receiving chemotherapy in the patient’s room, I met Zorica Velicki, a girl who also suffered from ovarian cancer and who was the president of the Association of Citizens for the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer “Progovori”. She founded this association in 2013. I joined in and together, side by side, we spread awareness about this vicious disease. Zorica Velicki passed away in 2019, after a ten-year struggle, but she was and remains a symbol of the fight against the most deadly gynecological cancer. Last year, we also established the “Zorica Velicki” award, which was given to RTS journalist Ana Stamenković.

Older women are most often affected by ovarian cancer, but the disease does not bypass the younger population either. Of particular concern is that these are women over the age of twenty. It is a severe and serious disease that does not have early symptoms as in some other malignancies, and when they do occur, they are very non-specific and are mainly related to the digestive and urinary tract. I didn’t know anything about it, and I had bloating and swelling of the stomach, pain in the pelvic area and a feeling of pressure in the stomach, satiety, frequent and sudden urination, constant feeling of tiredness, heartburn, back pain, constipation and unusual vaginal bleeding. That is why I am now speaking publicly about the symptoms and appealing to women to be sure to check with a gynecologist, if they have such symptoms. The mission of the Association “Progovori” is to talk about ovarian cancer publicly and through preventive messages reminds us of regular gynecological examinations and checks of symptoms that are non-specific in ovarian cancer. An equally important mission is to fight for modern and innovative therapies in order to increase the survival rate and improve the quality of life of women who are being treated for this disease. In the last few years, after a long period, we have received two line therapies for women who are struggling with ovarian cancer. One is especially intended for women who have the BRCA mutated gene, that is, who have a genetic predisposition for this disease. In this way, we would reduce the infamous statistics. An equally important mission is to fight for modern and innovative therapies in order to increase the survival rate and improve the quality of life of women who are being treated for this disease. In the last few years, after a long period, we have received two line therapies for women who are struggling with ovarian cancer. One is especially intended for women who have the BRCA mutated gene, that is, who have a genetic predisposition for this disease. In this way, we would reduce the infamous statistics. An equally important mission is to fight for modern and innovative therapies in order to increase the survival rate and improve the quality of life of women who are being treated for this disease. In the last few years, after a long period, we have received two line therapies for women who are struggling with ovarian cancer. One is especially intended for women who have the BRCA mutated gene, that is, who have a genetic predisposition for this disease. In this way, we would reduce the infamous statistics.

In Serbia, about 800 women get sick every year, while 450 lose the battle with this cancer. This means that every day two women get sick and one dies of ovarian cancer. The association “Progovori” organizes and initiates many campaigns, educations, forums and conferences with an emphasis on early detection of the disease and adequate treatment. Every year on May 8, World Ovarian Cancer Day is celebrated. This year, in accordance with the situation due to kovida 19, with several media reports, we marked this day under the name “KoVidi dalje”.

 

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