thriver since 2014
So here's the whole story.... take a bathroom break, this is a long one!
The "who" -my name is Cynthia Dano
and the "what"-I am a certified holistic life/health coach
is defined by the "why"-the compelling story that brought me to where I am today- guiding people like you who face or are surviving cancer by empowering you to heal your health and overcome your fears.
December 9, 2014 was the day my life changed forever.
"You have ovarian cancer", the emergency room doc said. I remember thinking "Wait, what? I thought we were talking diverticulitis and now you say C A N C E R???" To say I was in complete shock, is an understatement. I looked around the room thinking, “Who are you talking to?” and "No, No, No! Let's go back to diverticulitis please! I didn’t know what to say. My tumor was the size of a grapefruit. I needed surgery immediately.
I grew up healthy and had been healthy most of my life. I was a ballet dancer all throughout my childhood.Since turning 40, there was a noticeable slide... I knew my diet wasn't very good. I had gained 25 pounds. I was drinking too much (I owned a wine bar. My husband and I would frequently drink 1-2 bottles of wine a night-all in the name of research!) Exercise consisted of lifting my wine glass. My energy was sluggish and I didn't feel like me. For the first time, I felt truly middle-aged. Although I am middle aged, I certainly didn't want to feel that way.
In retrospect, I can see that those behaviors had weakened my body. Then, my stomach started to grow. My husband noticed it but, bless his heart, didn’t mention it and I just chalked it up to getting fat. One night I was awakened by severe abdominal pain. I had just returned from a vacation and thought I had gotten food poisoning. The pain subsided but was up and down the next few days and I was super bloated, looking 6 months pregnant. I went to a walk-in clinic, where a blood panel was taken and I was x-rayed. Their diagnosis? Constipation. I did as I was instructed – downing laxatives and pain killers – but the pain persisted and became overwhelming. I went to my small town emergency room, same routine-x-rays, blood work-only to be told once again, that I was simply constipated-although my white blood cell count was way off and my fever was climbing. More laxatives, pain killers, anti-anxiety medicine and prune juice for added measure. No relief. Finally, (one full week later) the husband of a friend, another doctor, examined me. He knew something was up. From there, things escalated very quickly. He didn't know what it was but he saw something so sent me immediately to the hospital emergency room for a CT scan. He assured me he knew a great surgeon if I needed to go that route, thinking it might be diverticulitis. "Surgery?!" I thought. I had never even broken a bone-surely there must be drugs!
Following the CT scan and more blood work, the emergency room doctor brought my husband in the room and was very serious and told me simply, “It looks like you have ovarian cancer.” I stayed that night in the hospital so they could stabilize me for transport to a larger facility. I spent the night Googling 'ovarian cancer' and my fear and dread went sky-high. It is the deadliest form of women's cancer by percentage. My mother had breast cancer and a double mastectomy when she was 50. As her daughter, my chances of getting it were 50%. So at age 30 I started having annual mammograms and preparing myself for the very real possibility of hearing "You have breast cancer". I just assumed if I got cancer it would be of the breast. I had no idea that the two cancers were related.
The next day I arrived at Cancer Care Northwest in Spokane, a few hours away from my home. They told me there was a 50/50 chance the tumor wasn’t cancer at all. A little hope returned. But, unfortunately, the tumor was cancerous, and to top it off, the tumor had burst. I had a radical hysterectomy, plus the removal of 27 lymph nodes and the omemtum. Turns out I had a rare form of ovarian cancer-only 5% of ovarian cancer is this type (granulosa cell tumor). The news just kept getting worse-stage 3C-meaning it had spread to nearby lymph nodes. My doctor told me very little was known about my cancer, that it had a 100% recurrence rate and treatment may or may not work. WTF? But I got my first piece of good news, if it can be called that, it probably wouldn’t kill me right away. I had to wrap my head around this.
"How much time did I have?
Would I live to see my grandson be born?
Would I be in a lot of pain?
Would I have time to check off a few more items from my bucket list?
How would I tell my parents, my kids?"
It is hard to know what to do and think, how to feel, where to go and why to bother when given such news. Recovering from my surgery, I found a support group online and began to reach out. In the two months between my surgery and chemo, I took the time I needed to prepare myself for chemo and the battle ahead. I decided I would welcome it and put my full-faith and intention in having it heal and help me. I promised myself I would be extremely proactive throughout my process. I fully believe that this decision made all the difference. It helped me rise above feeling like a victim and gain some sense of control. The next 24 months were filled with surgeries, biopsies, chemo, lots of needles (which I hate with a passion), oncologists, naturopaths, adjunct therapies, endless scans, X-rays and a myriad of tests. It was also filled with joy, family, faith, uncertainty, friends, fear, love, gratitude, tears, meditation, emotional ups and downs and a whole lot of learning. Good things can come from bad situations. It refocused me on what is important...family, friends and good health are pretty damned important. Good health became my new religion and my job. It pretty much was my best and maybe only shot to beating cancer- I practiced radical self care and it ultimately brought me through my ordeal.
And all throughout my process, I was reminded of an idea I had way back, pre-chemo, when I took some time beach-side to get my head on straight. I couldn’t shake the feeling that my cancer was deeply tied to my purpose. I didn’t know how but I knew I wanted to help others facing similar challenges. Eventually, I discovered life coaching and was certified through the Health Coach Institute. Since then, so much has happened. I started life [re] imagined and began mentoring others on how they too can be empowered and a Cancer Thriver during a very scary time. In October of 2017, I had the privilege of training with Dr. Kelly Turner PhD, researcher and author of Radical Remission. I was certified in December 2017 to be a Radical Remission workshop leader and in February 2018, I was certified as a Radical Remission coach. I made a commitment to helping others breakthrough their fear, tap into their intuition and set them upon a course of empowered health. In addition to the Radical Remission coaching, I use a variety of variety of inner and outer steps that detox the mind, body and spirit that can help create a healing internal environment so that you can thrive-regardless of the situation. You are here for a reason, and I would love to help support you in your healing journey :-)