I was officially diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer on February 3rd, 2016. As scary as the diagnosis sounds, and I am truly terrified, I am going to write about this as a warning to other social media users. Please note, I do not think negatively about this, it is bothersome to me, but I am not dwelling on what happened, and I am a strong, healthy person, and I am going to beat this despite the “haters.” I just namely want to save people from experiencing a similar thing.
A few months ago, I was invited to a running social media site. I will not name the site, as it will give credence to the members, that did the bullying. It was a site that encouraged its members to be sarcastic and irreverent. I enjoyed it. It was a closed group, so I felt free to post about things going on in my life that I could not post on regular social media sites. At the time, I was dealing with the recent death of my dad; my daughter was being diagnosed with ADD (and had some serious mental health issues going on); and of course my son had autism. I was struggling mentally and physically from all these things going on (or so I thought).
On February 1st, I had an appointment with my doctor. This was my initial appointment, and because I was in a chemical accident in 2002, she ordered an X-ray of my chest and upper respiratory system. I ended up having fluid on my lungs. My heart rate was irregular and my blood pressure was high. The doctor told me that it probably was pneumonia, and my heart was enlarged because I have a condition that’s common in marathoners called athlete’s heart, OR I could have congestive heart failure and I could have had a silent heart attack. I rushed to social media, and asked questions from the runners on the site. Most of the runners answered honestly, but two women started to question everything. I tried to answer the questions and calm myself down, but no avail. My day was about to get much worse.
I was sent to the ER at the local hospital to have the fluid drained. They did a CT scan to see the extent of the fluid in the lungs, and the radiologist saw something on the scan. Three scans later, he spotted a mass in my gynecological region, and they ambulated me to Sacred Heart in Pensacola. Of course, being the person I was, I updated those praying for me in the running group, because I had friends there. The two women who had questioned me got even more aggressive, and started to really question the situation.
The next three days while I was hospitalized, it was a roller coaster. I was told that I did not have cancer, that I did have cancer, that it could be this, or it could be that. Finally, on February 3rd, I had a bladder stent put in, and was thoroughly examined by the gynecological oncologist on staff at the hospital. He identified the cancer immediately. I was scheduled on February 5th for a full hysterectomy. I didn’t check social media account for a few days after that, and when I did check it, I found a post making fun of me.
It had gone beyond the two women who initially questioned my diagnosis, multiple people posted things stating that I was faking, that I was an attention whore, and they questioned whether, or not I was making up other things I had shared with them. I was told by my family to leave the site, and I did. A few of my Facebook friends that were on the site that I had left, and why. Some of them went on the site (who knew me personally and online), assured the other admins that I was not lying, and that I was diagnosed with cancer and facing months of treatment. The site exploded, and several people left the site, and started their own site.
I am not really too angry, or hold too many negative feelings towards the people who did this. Online is a mob mentality sometimes– just look at some of the other irreverent sites that have hurt people in the past. The commonality is they are irreverent. If you can’t handle the heat, you are the one with the problem. It is easy to be mean when you are hidden behind a computer. In all honesty, their negativity, ribbing, or cruelty does not bother me. I actually feel sorry for them, because there is something seriously lacking in their life that they feel they can pick on someone diagnosed with cancer.
I also hold myself somewhat accountable for what happened. I should not have shared with strangers what was going on. I should have just kept it to myself until I knew for sure what was happening. I should not have kept feeding them with information to use against me. The situation has changed the way I interact online. If I have medical questions about my condition, I have found a support group locally, and I call people who have been there. I also contact my doctor, I keep a negativity/symptom journal, and I have a cancer survivor social worker, who is working with my family.
Though this incredibly negative thing has happened, there has also been some good that has come out of this. I am not a religious person, and I have a renewed faith. I have personally witnessed miracles. It has brought me closer to my family and friends, and made me realize how truly precious our time on Earth is. I made up with a friend that I thought I had lost years ago, people I went to high school with have rallied around me, and I have become a better person.
I never really thought that online bullying could occur to me. I am not a typical victim. I have a pretty thick skin. It can happen to anyone, for any reason.