September 20, 2023
When patients hear a diagnosis of cancer, their world stops and many struggle with thoughts of their own mortality. At OHC we know how big an emotional challenge this can be. Our team treats you like family providing both leading care and emotional support, so you never walk your cancer journey alone.
Kimberly Rhyan’s experience with cancer started with her mother dying of brain cancer followed by her father passing of kidney cancer. During that time, Kimberly learned the value of remaining positive in the face of overwhelming fear. And the value family can provide by giving positive emotional support to people as they struggle on their cancer journeys.
Then unexpectedly in early 2023, Kimberly was herself diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer. Kimberly went from giving to needing the emotional support of family. Fortunately, she found OHC.
Gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Ajit Gubbi, was the first OHC caregiver on Kimberly’s cancer team. When thinking back to the first time he met Kimberly, Dr. Gubbi notes: “She was obviously devastated by her metastatic ovarian cancer diagnosis. However, as a mom, her primary thought and concern was that for her 12-year-old son. Kimberly knew from personal experience what a strain her cancer journey could place on him. Kimberly is so strong of spirit and mind that she was motivated to do anything that she needed to do to overcome this disease without negatively impacting his childhood.”
When first faced with her diagnosis, Kimberly was overwhelmed. She didn’t know what to do or where to go for treatment. Kimberly was referred to OHC from the ER. “When I first came to OHC and met with Dr. Gubbi I cried when he told me about my stage 4 diagnosis. But there were no tissues in the room, and on my way out I made mention of that to the front desk. The very next time I came, there wasn’t a spot in the building where I couldn’t see tissues. I thought, OK, I feel that I’ve been heard and seen and that says a lot. Knowing I was heard for a simple request brought me a sense of peace. I knew I was in the right place.”
Kimberly acknowledges the compassion that’s required for her situation and is very thankful to Dr. Gubbi and the nurses at OHC. They make her feel like family. Kimberly is particularly appreciative of one of her nurses, Suzanne, RN. “We formed a special connection, a bond. Another patient and I talk about Suzanne a lot, about how compassionate she is. Suzanne’s the type of person who you just feel her kind presence when she’s with you. Everyone at OHC has been great, but she in particular has been amazing.”
Kimberly’s goal throughout her cancer journey has been to help her son understand what she is going through and to help him cope with things beyond his control. Together, they are a wonderful team. He supports her when she needs extra help, and she supports him by making sure he still gets to be a kid. For example, encouraging him to go to a sleepover, knowing she’ll be alone recovering from a round of chemo. Even while she is struggling, Kimberly puts her son ahead of herself.
A master’s prepared artist, Kimberly has always found art to be the best way to express her feelings. Now Kimberly uses art to help her son better understand her struggle with cancer. Kimberly’s able to process her pain and her emotions by putting those feelings down on paper in self-portraits.
Throughout her life’s struggles, she’s often experienced times when expressing her emotions verbally has been challenging. “I have a strong faith and try not to ask too many questions. There are not always answers, but through my artwork, I can explore the answers on my own. It helps me cope.”
Expressing her emotions through artwork is also a way to help her son understand what she is feeling. Kimberly says “Sometimes it’s a way for my son and I to have conversations about cancer. He knows these are helpful to me and so when he gives feedback or has an idea or likes something, we can have that conversation openly and it allows us to have that connection.”
For patients with ovarian cancer, the road to recovery is generally a long one. “It’s a long-term fight and Kimberly will have many ups and downs with her care along the way,” states Dr. Gubbi. “But with her personal strength, family support, and unrelenting motivation, she continues to battle this horrific disease exceptionally well. It is an honor to be a part of her medical family.”
To Dr. Gubbi’s point, you can see Kimberly’s conviction to be victorious in her artwork. Through her choice of vibrant colors and bold text, the positive emotional approach Kimberly has decided to take on her cancer journey is evident. When asked what she’d say to other women who have just received her same diagnosis, Kimberly says “Know that you’re not alone. Through your cancer journey, you’re going to meet Suzanne’s and other people who come along unexpectedly. There are people I don’t even know that have prayed for me because someone told them my story. Don’t let your pride get in the way of receiving a blessing.”
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, call the experts at OHC at 1-800-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com to request an appointment.Comments (0)