Cancer Grad Interview with Co Founder of STWA!
FALLOPIAN TUBE CANCER STUDENT- TASIA
“Im a damn hard-ass. Never did I think I’d be in this position, but I’ve managed to keep my head up (yes not everyday has been easy) but I’ve managed to adjust my mindset from day to day in order to survive and you don’t understand what a difference a positive mindset can do for you.
Name: Tasia Sli
Age at Enrollment: 28
Major: Fallopian Stage 1C
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? Extreme Cramping (Dr assumed it was the cysts I had, so I had two operations for cyst removal), Bloated (I just figured that was my poor diet) Bleeding in between period.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? Continuos visits to the ER during my period, the cramps felt like labour.
Courses completed: It I was started off with few rounds of chemo (Carboplatin and Taxol, Vitamin pills and Dexamethasone) as they didn’t want to operate in case the tumor burst and spread to other organs. This was followed by a very minimal laparoscopic surgery removing my Fallopian tube.
What has been your biggest struggle since your diagnosis? Not having family here was hard for me, although my friends were very supportive, I tried for the longest time to not inform my family as they were living in a different country, I did not want them worrying and knowing I couldn’t afford to bring anyone this side during this time. The first cycle I really struggled with eating, the mouth sores and nausea was brutal - I love my food, and not even having an appetite for days on end was rough. I also hate being still and with the treatment I found myself sleeping in a lot which caused me to be severely depressed.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since your diagnosis? Starting up an organization I've been wanting to work on for over four years now. Its sole purpose was to blog about my feelings while drinking wine, but it became much more than that with the help of my two good friends. We call it "Something to Wine About" and our aim is to unite women and have them talk openly about the things we all go through and try help each over a glass of wine :)
How did your family and friends respond? When I eventually told my mom, she was my rock, she was so strong throughout everything, she still is. I did not expect that. I eventually managed to get her over to the US in time for my surgery and believe it or not, this may have been the best summer I've had in NYC. This rough time brought us so much closer. My friends were amazing, they were by my side from the word go especially knowing that I hadn’t told my family at the beginning. I also met and got very close to ladies who had or still were going through what I went through, the support base came from places I didn’t even expect and I'm still so touched.
When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do? My best friends and I recently started Something To Wine About, and we host wellness events, support happy hours for ladies going through their own struggles. This has kept me busy and meeting women and talking to them about the taboo things we go through day by day has really helped me through helping them. I also write a lot, I blog down my feelings. This is the easiest way to get my mind off things especially when I cant leave the house to take a walk or do small activities.
What did you know about the type of cancer that you were diagnosed with prior to your diagnosis? Nothing! Not a damn thing! I had heard of Ovarian Cancer but never Fallopian tube cancer, and it being so rare was the reason.
What do you now want people to be aware of? At the end of the day, you know your body more than anyone, if something doesn’t feel quite right, question it, demand more tests. I didn’t. I took everything they said and accepted it ("You’re ok, its just pains form your period, its the cysts they come and go, its cant be more than that you’re too young, its your diet- change your diet, here some painkillers you should be fine within a couple of days") If something doesn’t feel right, over and over, don't just numb with with painkillers or other meds, get checked out, get a second opinion.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it? For the first couple of weeks/months after finding out, I was still a little skeptical about the whole thing, I had been experiencing these complications for over two years and wasn’t really sure if my staging was even right. So I started living each day like it was my last (when I could). As cliche as that may sound, on the days I had strength I would do the things I always wanted to do. I acted like a tourist in my own city, I started opening myself up to new experiences (all those things I'd pushed aside 'cause “I'll get to it later”). There was no more later, I went to new places, I spent more time with friends, I did and am still doing some more travel around US, I read more (on days I can barely move or leave the house), finally got Something To Wine About off the ground. Embracing the new “normal” was tough, but I decided to rock my new short hair and not just in the house. I said no when I truly didn’t want to do something instead of stepping on egg shells around friends. I opted for healthier yet still delicious options on the menu when I went out. I tried different cuisines. I went on a helicopter. I'm just doing things in my area that people who would do anything to be living where I am would take and win with. I'm in a magnificent city, I'm in a great country, I may not be going through the best time right now but would rather be going through it in Manhattan, New York, US!
Since your diagnosis, what new belief, habit or behavior has most improved your quality of life? Gratitude. This isn’t what I'd wish on anyone but I've been fortunate enough to be in a great place, great friends and family that have been my rock through all this!
Did you learn anything about yourself or your life? If so, what was it? Im a damn hard-ass. Never did I think I'd be in this position, but I've managed to keep my head up (yes not everyday has been easy) but I've managed to adjust my mindset from day to day in order to survive and you don't understand what a difference a positive mindset can do for you.
If you could write anything you wanted on a billboard in NYC’s Times Square that would reach millions of people, what would it read? Once I get the A-Ok from my docs I want to tattoo Maya Angelous “Still I rise” on my arm , not the whole poem, just those words. Because here I am again, rising through the rough times. If I were to have anything up on NYC Billboard, I would want to have myself and other women who have gone through this recite either this poem or one that has meaning to them.