It was 2 AM, and I hit a mental wall. I’m normally a night owl, piecing together everything I need with the moths and sleeping dogs at my feet – but it wasn’t exhaustion which made my hands freeze and my eyes fixate on anything but the computer screen – it was the reflection I kept seeing of myself.
You ever have that moment when you get out of the shower and you almost do advanced acrobatic to avoid a glimpse of yourself in the foggy mirror? This was me. The further I get into researching why women who are receiving treatment or post-treatment for gynecologic cancers – the more I encounter some of my own pain which I haven’t yet resolved.
Some of the article titles contained the following:
- Depression and Anxiety for survivors
- Suicide attempt predictors among gynecologic survivors
- Loss of sexual identity due to hysterectomy related to gynecologic cancer treatment
- Loss of self confidence
The list goes on and becomes more grim.
The hardest part about pursing my doctorate at Hopkins isn’t the academic rigor – I can do that – it’s continuing to look at the pieces of our stories as women who were diagnosed with below the belt cancers and not wanting to smash all the pieces to the floor and give up.
Everyday I ponder whether or not I should continue. No one would blame me if I quit – I have a lot on my plate. My classmates are doing research on faculty of color turnover rates at universities and research on students with special needs.
I’m doing research on my mortality.
No one would blame me if I quit – if I quit trying to find the answers and concrete stepping stones for why gyn onc patients need writing therapy.
I felt incredibly alone – until at almost 3AM – I came across an article that I needed for the paper and one of the contributing authors was my first oncologist – Dr. Stephanie Wethington.
Maybe I can do this – and maybe I can’t. I don’t have answers today and that’s alright.