This and other realizations from an ovarian cancer survivor
On Sept. 15, Give Local Louisville day, we shared 24 Hours of Courage on Facebook — a day highlighting the stories of courageous mothers, sons, husbands and friends who have fought or are currently fighting one of the most tragic diseases of our time — cancer.
We’re now turning these stories of courage into tales of triumph that need to be heard.
We are honored to share Sharon Rengers’ story again with you, in her own words.
As a pediatric nurse for 32 years, I had seen plenty of sick children along the way. But I didn’t feel sick and the stomach pain I was having wasn’t even that bad. After I was diagnosed, I can remember thinking, “Am I going to go do chemo and end up making myself sick when I feel just fine right now?’
I knew better — my mind knew better — but I didn’t want to know anything about my diagnosis. I didn’t go to the web, I didn’t read the pamphlets in the office, and I asked my doctor just to tell me what we needed to do and not tell me anything about the cancer. I didn’t need all the details.
What was it going to help? Just to go and hear how I was going to die or what my odds of living were going to be? No thanks. For me, it was the right choice. I can remember an email showing up one day that said 60 percent of women die from ovarian cancer. I deleted it immediately. It was the only time while I was under treatment that I saw my odds.
How do bald men survive? I mean, seriously — “cold head” is a real thing! You wouldn’t believe how much your hair keeps you warm. I didn’t lose my hair at first. It took a couple of months. One of my friends dragged me to look into wigs before I lost my hair. That was a funny experience. I found one that looked familiar to my hair. I wore it for about as long as I could stand it — one hour. It’s awful. It’s hot, it hurts your head and it just felt weird to me. I slept in a beanie and had my head covered whenever I could. I knew we did this for babies, but just didn’t even think about it. I kept asking men I met who were bald, “How do you survive?”
I had the wig but I really wore it for others. I would carry it into work in a brown paper bag, and then if I had a meeting with a bunch of people who hadn’t seen me or I thought would be shocked to see me bald, I would pull it out and put it on. I’d wear it for an hour and then just rip off afterward. No one ever knew when they came to my office if I would have hair or not. I didn’t care to be bald but other people seemed to be freaked out. I didn’t want them to look at me and think, “Poor, little Sharon. She’s dying.” So I wore the wig.
Eventually I went to a scarf-tying class. Scarves were more comfortable and solved the cold head problem. I was more accessorized during that time than I have ever been! It’s funny — I haven’t gotten my hair cut yet, but now it’s growing back, and people who I haven’t seen in a long time will say, “Oh, I see you are doing something new with your hair!” Ha! This is my “God cut.”
Diagnosed with cancer and wondering where to turn?
You don’t have to face cancer alone. And you shouldn’t have to wait for answers.
Call (502) 629-HOPE to schedule a same-day appointment with a cancer specialist.