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What was supposed to be a simple procedure turned into my surgeon taking a biopsy of a tumor that was found low in my colon. Six days later after the biopsy results came back my surgeon sat me down in his office and told me that the tumor was cancerous. How did I react? I felt like I was having an out of body experience thinking “Ok, so this is what it feels like to be diagnosed with the c-word.” Let me be clear, it’s not that I never thought it couldn’t happen to me, I just didn’t picture it happening so soon. But towards the end of the appointment, I felt the silent tears falling down my face as the shock started to settle in. I walked back to work with tears just continuing to fall down my face. It was a cool but sunny day when I stepped outside on put on my sunglasses. Ironically out of all days, standing outside talking at an establishment only a few feet away from my job, I bumped into a girlfriend who I never see on my side of town, crying her eyes out over a current relationship. Here I am, tears dripping down my face behind my sunglasses because of my diagnosis that I had just left a few minutes ago. What’s even more ironic as we walked away is that it never dawned on her that for all the years that I had known her that I wasn’t the type of person to cry whenever I listened to her situations before.





When she called me that evening I was too busy. I was working my crazy hours round the clock and didn't take the time to hear her plea. She wanted to tell me something but I couldn't find the time to listen. When I read her email at 3am I fell to the floor! The words she'd written tore at the fibers of my soul. She had finally gone public with her Announcement and I found out when everyone else did because I hadn't taken her private call. She had been selective in her messages to family and close friends as she wanted us to hear the news directly from her rather than whispers in the hallways. I sat that morning amidst my tears and wrote an unedited letter that flowed from my heart. I apologized for my selfish pride reached out to her and shared my love and support. As the flight took off I sat back in my seat and reflected on how far we'd come but more importantly I experienced a feeling of what parents must go through daily. I had simply dropped everything to go and be with my loved one who needed me!!! As I literally drove hours across connecting states my thoughts were focused on my athlete's needs just like a parent and how my visit could assist in any way. Few knew I was coming for the element of surprise was essential.





This is when I got introduced to the extreme cold sensitivity side effects of my particular chemotherapy cocktail. Now for those who know me, I cannot stand to be cold. Period. I would take a hot summer day over a cold winter one. I don’t like snow, let alone walk on it. I don’t even like ice in my drink and even the sound of someone crunching on ice makes my flesh crawl. So I found it very ironic that I would be fortunate enough to get side effects that would make me even more cold sensitive. Can we say ‘Not Impressed’? In the middle of treatment, my room temperature bottled water became too cold to drink by just sitting in the air conditioning. That’s how quickly it worked and I still had over an hour to go. It caused my throat to close up and caused painful sensations in the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat. It could have been dish water I was drinking for all I know. I couldn’t taste anything, it was just painful. It made it hard to breathe and swallow.




THE ROYAL GAZETTE: Fighting The Big C with All Their Might

I’m a fighter, not a victim — the brave and inspiring message of two young women who refuse to let cancer beat them. Bermudians Giovanna Watson and Kamala Smith are battling different forms of the disease but are united in their determination to defeat their illnesses —  Ms Watson is full of praise for her friend’s bravery. “Kamala was enjoying my posts, found them inspirational and said we were sisters in our fight against the c word, and that we would get through this together,” she said. A group of Ms Watson’s friends from salsa dancing with Bermuda Latin Vibes decided to throw a fundraiser for her to help with her expenses — but she insisted the money go to Mrs Smith’s family. Latin Vibes’ fundraiser, Black Tie & Ribbons, was held at Masterworks on August 23 and raised $1,500 for the Smith family and $1,300 for Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre. Mrs Smith and her husband were the guests of honour at the event. “As much consistent pain Kamala is in on a daily basis, she still dressed up, showed up at the event and had a good time."





We all have that one person whose friendship has stood the test of time. And as I was coming closer to the end of my journey, I wanted to take a moment from all the interviews, Facebook posts and really take time to thank those who were still hanging in there with me. And I needed to find a way to do that for Nicky. So the set up was that I agreed to go to Nicky’s church with her once a month. So when we arrived at the church and so that she wouldn’t get suspicious, I told her that I wanted to go up to ask the Pastor if I could share my story with the church. "Good morning church, my name is Giovanna and on Valentine’s Day this year a cancerous tumor was found in my colon during a routine surgery. So the reason I'm standing up here in front of you is not to tell you about my journey with the C-word but to talk about love, friendship, loyalty and support. And my best friend Nicky encompasses all those traits. So I am not shedding tears of sadness, but without shame, I stand here in front of you with tears of gratitude, love and appreciation. Because before my journey is over I wanted her to know without a doubt how much I love and appreciate her as God and you all as my witness."





When numerous weather stations tell you a hurricane is coming to hit your tiny island, what you should be worrying about is preparing your home, making sure you have enough supplies like food, water, batteries, rope, tape, tarp, buckets and candles. Tropical Storm Faye was to hit on the Sunday (which was later moved up to hurricane status) and Hurricane Gonzalo was to hit that Friday. Yes, hurricanes are dangerous and leave a path of destruction behind blah, blah, blah but I skipped that part in my brain. This c-word made me put things in a different perspective. So do you know what I was really worried about? I was worried if these storms were going to delay my next treatment.  This is not about me enjoying treatment; this was about me making sure I could get them over with. I might not be able to walk on water but I would walk over some damn trees to get the remainder of my treatments that is for sure.




005916-purple-white-pearl-icon-business-thumbs-down1.pngADVICE #454 - WHAT NOT TO SAY:

Even if you don’t know what to say, be honest and say that. What I will say is that it is important to acknowledge that it won’t be easy. However, with that said, it is more important to vocalize how proud you are of them for fighting through this. I kid you not. This was exactly what people said to me and in the exact same order; “Oh, I am so sorry to hear. My (father/aunt/uncle/mother/sister/cousin) passed away from Cancer”. Now imagine, especially after going public like I did, bumping into a minimum of 50 different people. Imagine hearing that very same thing, and in that exact same order. Now repeat it 50 times in your head. Now stop and ask yourself, have YOU ever been one of those people? The question is; what is your message really doing? Are you conveying support or are you really just conveying your own personal fears?




"We do not remember days, we remember moments"

Cesare Pavese

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