The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, Faith, Cancer, and Now?

by Ceidy JimenezFighter and Survivor, SCCOHT (Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary, Hypercalcemic Type)June 11, 2024View more posts from Ceidy Jimenez

Content Warning: Suicidal ideation and attempt

Dear Cancer, 

I’m not sure if I should curse you or thank you for coming into my life. Looking back at the last two years since you made your presence known, you have done more good than bad. Yes, getting chemo sucks, but I got to see people’s true colors. Yes, it’s been sad and hard to go bald and through all the other chemo effects, but I was able to pull through. Family disappeared on me when I was diagnosed, a few family members stepped up, but it was only for a moment. Most of my stay at the hospital, I was alone and depressed. Some family members came to visit me at the hospital, but their visits were always short. They were more concerned about what to share with others about my condition than actually sitting down with me and asking me how I was really doing. Cancer really put a toll on me, and I was desperately lonely and sad; I needed someone by my side. I was so surprised when friends started reaching out in large numbers—everybody was loving, concerned, compassionate, and supporting. I became overwhelmed by the pour of love and affection, but ultimately I was more appreciative of all my friends. Each one of them made the effort to reach out in one way or another to see how I was doing and if I needed anything. I can’t blame my family for not wanting to accept my diagnosis and distancing themselves from me. Although I am not mad for their choices, I do have questions. Why did you back away from me? Do you guys love me? Do you guys actually care about me? When I think of family, I just think of questions to ask with answers I’ll never get. I needed someone desperately to hug me, to love me in those hard times, to feel supported, but my arms were always empty and my heart filled with false hopes.

Living with severe depression and high anxiety was already hard on me. Growing up never feeling loved, being told to never show emotions, and to always have my guard up, was a lot of work and a heavy burden on my shoulders. There was never someone that I felt comfortable with to open up and talk about what was going on with me. I just kept hiding everything and bottling up inside me—that is what I was taught to do since I was kid. I had no self-esteem, no self-confidence in myself, especially no self-love. I have always felt broken and ripped into pieces. I was so angry that back then I didn’t care about anyone or anything, especially myself. I never had real friends, the people that I considered “friends” in high school were only hurting me. I was so naive that I believed that they knew what was best for me and what could help with the pain. I blindly did as I was told to do—that is, I started to hurt myself and eventually tried a few suicide attempts. I was so lost and broken and I was so desperate to let go of my pain—I didn’t know what else to do. One Fall night, I decided to end all my pain and suffering. At that moment, a call came through my phone. I wasn’t going to answer the phone, but I recognized the area code so I answered it. The moment I answered, I heard my friend Brionne’s voice as she started talking, and she sounded all happy and excited. I tried my best to calm down and sound normal. She asked how I was doing and of course, I lied and said I was doing fine. My friend then asked me to guess what surprise she had for me. I tried to think hard but couldn’t come up with anything because I was too focused on my tears that were still pouring down my cheeks. Before I could give a second guess, my friend blurted out that she had just gotten into town and wanted to know if I would like to join her and a few other people for dinner. I automatically said yes. That day was the last time that I have actually tried something to hurt myself. I truly believed that I was being watched over and saved because they were aware of what I was about to do. That was over thirteen years ago, but the memory is still clear.

I believe that from that suicide attempt, I was saved by God and Christ. From that moment on, I turned my life around and became a different person. I let go of the toxic relationships and decided that my own company was best for me. I became closer to my God and Savior by starting to pray every day and trying to read my scriptures. Along with those first steps, I reached out to the Missionaries in my Church and started going to Church. I started feeling lighter and less heavy about the burdens that I was carrying. I gave my whole life to God and his son Jesus Christ almost twelve years ago, and it has been the best decision in my life. Of course, my life hasn’t been easier since I was Baptized; so many harder challenges happened after I was Baptized, but I stayed strong in my faith and beliefs, and that has made all the difference in my life. I am far from perfect, but I try my best each day. Some days are easier than others, but I always talk to God. I feel and believe that through all my hard trials, the purpose was, yes, to test my faith and testimony, but also to build me up with strength, courage, hope, faith, love, resilience, and so much more. I was saved more than once. I know that God is the author of my story and that He knows me very well and knows what I am capable of going through in life.

When I was diagnosed with SCCOHT (Small Cell Carcinoma Hypercalcemic of the Ovary Type), I was alone and shocked. I wasn’t sure what to feel, what to think, what to say—I just stayed quiet and felt numb. I don’t remember much of what my doctor said at that moment, I just remember getting in my friend’s car who had waited for me in the parking lot. I shed a few tears as I got into the car and told my friend Julie that I had been diagnosed with cancer. Julie said that she was sorry and hugged me as I shed a few more tears. After a few seconds, I heard a clear whisper saying that everything would be OK. I then stopped crying, cleaned myself, and decided to get on top of my case and learn everything that I needed to learn about my diagnosis. I remembered being told that my Cancer type was rare and very aggressive and that I needed surgery soon and needed to start chemo fast. In a month and a half after a lot of phone calls, doctor referrals, signing documents, and prayers, I was accepted at Stanford for chemo treatment. But surgery was first, and with my OB being my surgeon, I felt calm and at peace. Thankfully it all worked out and the chemo treatments helped me go into remission after three months of treatment. I felt that Cancer stole a part of who I was that I wasn’t sure how to be me again. It took me a few months to become comfortable in my new body and love myself once again even with scars, bruises, and marks on my body.

Lastly, I want to say that ultimately I am grateful for everything I have gone through in my life because it gave me a better perspective and appreciation for life. Mostly it gave me the gift of loving myself even more. Something that I am forever thankful for because of cancer is that it introduced me to the best support group that I can be part of and belong to, Elephants and Tea. Being part of Elephants and Teas has been such a great blessing in my life in meeting new people and making tons of new friends. Friends that understand the struggles of cancer, treatments, symptoms, the after effects, and so much more. It’s been pretty amazing to feel like we can be ourselves unapologetically, embrace each other, love each other, support each other, and be there for each other—whether it’s good or bad, we are in it together. 

Cancer has taught us so much about life, but something it didn’t teach me was how to say goodbye to friends, especially when someone passes away. I was not prepared to know how to feel or think when our sweet friend, Ellen Rose O’Brien, passed away recently. It has taken me a few days to grieve her, and I just hope she watches over us and stays close to us. Ellen, we love you, we miss you, we think of you, and we will always remember you. I know I live and cherish each day I have in this world and try to make the best memories I can. To my Herd, I love you all with all my heart and I thank you all so so much for all that you have done for me. I’ll see you all on Fridays for Happy Hour <3

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