This week, Ovarian Cancer Survivors from all over the US gathered in Washington, DC to advocate for the programs and research that pave the way for better treatments for ovarian cancer. Nevette Middleton was one of those advocates. In honor of her work and her efforts, Unconditionally Her wanted to share her amazing UNTOLD story.
In 2011, according to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention 20,593 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This is important because in October 2011, I was one of those women diagnosed. Unfortunately, 14,346 women in the US died, only 30% survived. My name is Nevette Tyus-Middleton. I am an Ovarian Cancer Survivor.
The word survivor is such a powerful word, it resonates within me. It means to remain alive or in existence, to carry on despite hardships or trauma, to persevere. I am alive thanks be to God and I am able to carry on despite everything I have gone through. It took a lot of faith and endurance to overcome. I stand before you today happy, healthy and whole.
My journey began when I went in for simple cyst removal. I woke up in recovery to voices and people around my bed. The doctor shared with me the most dreaded news I ever heard. You have cancer.
My cyst was positive for papillary serous adenocarcinoma. You know really doctors should just stop talking after that.
It’s hard to process anything else.
It was like I went to another dimension of space and time in my mind. No, not me, they must have me confused with someone else. I eat healthy and I exercise. Wait a minute. Could this take MY LIFE? My very being could cease to exist. What happens now? What do I do? This cannot be how my life ends.
Who knows what even causes cancer? Genetic factors, diet, lifestyle. For me it could have been a defective gene, after all, I did test positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. Those of us who are BRCA positive, we have no idea when these cells may decide to go rogue. It’s like having a ticking time bomb inside with a cell phone detonator. One day you get a call and your world explodes.
My treatment involved a staging surgery, chemotherapy and a long path to healing that included my faith which remains an integral part of my life.
During my treatments it seems whatever could go wrong; it did go wrong. I had infections, an allergic reaction to meds, kidney issues, lost my voice and more.
My body started going through all these changes. I looked different, I felt different, my self-confidence was non-existent. I no longer recognized the person looking back at me in the mirror.
Cancer takes and takes. It had taken so much, I prayed Lord please don’t let it take my life.
In my darkest hour, I wanted to give up, but my faith & family kept me going. One night I was in so much pain, I could barely think straight. I had to make a decision to succumb to this pain and let cancer win or continue to fight. This became my turning point. After that night I knew I was never going to give up. I refused to give in to cancer. I refused to give it my life. This was not going to be the end of my story.
In May of 2012, I was declared cancer-free. I knew I needed to help others somehow. When God gave me my voice back, I vowed to honor Him by sharing my experience and lessons learned. In corporate America, I used conference calls all the time to conduct business, run meetings, and discuss projects. I thought why not use this technology to create a forum for people who are hurting and need help.
In October of 2012, six months after I went into remission, I started a prayer line. Initially, I just invited close family members but it has now grown to include, extended family, friends and friends of friends from all over the US. We have callers from California to SC, Minnesota to Mississippi. We have this conference call each and every Saturday morning without FAIL. The line is open at 8:45 for socializing and at 9amCT we officially start the call. It lasts about 20 to 30 minutes. We have scripture, prayer, praise reports, and we celebrate birthdays. We know birthdays are not just another day, but a day to celebrate I AM ALIVE!. This call gives others a place to come to each week to share their feelings or just listen. It’s like a living spring, people can come if they need to fill up or they can release.
It is a great way for our prayer family and friends to keep in touch. Its an awesome way to encourage each other on a weekly basis. There is no way I could sit down each Saturday and call 30 to 40 people and share the way we do without this call.
Cancer took a lot from me, but through this forum, I am able to share what I took from my cancer experience.
The following principles are the keys to starting over.
First, I took my life back. I believe everything in life has a purpose big or small. Every day is a gift, use it wisely.
2. I believe everything in life has a purpose big or small. Every day is a gift, use it wisely.
3. Every day is a gift, use it wisely.
4. I have greater faith and belief in the scripture that “Through Christ All things are possible.” I know that God is with me and in his word it states “He will never leave nor forsake me.”
5. I have a stronger sense of family and now cherish every minute and second that I get to spend with them.
I have a new lease on life. None of us know the day nor the hour that we shall leave this place. That’s why it is so important to do all that we can; while we can.
This prayer line was birthed from great pain in my life. It’s not just a prayer line it’s a lifeline. We have medical professionals join our calls to discuss relevant issues. We had a Genetic Counselor come on to discuss the importance of BRCA testing. What it means and why getting tested could affect generations to come. We have been ministers to discuss how faith can play a role in healing and other special guests on monthly.
It has brought great joy, closeness and comfort. Each person on that line realizes they are not alone. They feel love and encouragement through each scripture read, every prayer prayed and each birthday wish.
Last year, I also started sending weekly texts called Mid-week Motivation. It’s just a way to encourage each person to keep going no matter what. This forum is not only for cancer survivors it’s for everyone. I encourage others to invite their friends or coworkers who are in need. I encourage others to start a call of their own. I believe we are all the same, we all have the same needs. The desire that when we are hurting, someone will wrap their arms around us and say “it’s going to be okay”.
This experience has taught me to live my life With Purpose, On Purpose. We are all created with a purpose. It is no coincidence that I stand before you today. It was all a part of God’s plan.
I am going to impact as many lives as I can by sharing a message of hope and survivorship. Cancer is not a death sentence but a life sentence for change.
Each day is a new opportunity, continue to look forward and no looking back. You have to create a new vision for yourself and you have to see it in here (point to head) before you see it out there. You have to learn to move forward regardless of how you feel or what you have been through. Last but certainly not least keep your FAITH!
This year, I will be seven years cancer free. I am committed to using my experience to help others. It is my Passion and it is my Purpose.
For More Incredible Stories visit UNTOLDProject.org.
To participate in the prayer line, here is the information.