My name is Megan Silianoff. I live in Houston, Texas where I run my boutique PR Firm and write a lifestyle blog called Greetings from Texas I have a 2.5 year old, Macy, who refuses to sleep in her own room and I desperately need to be on one of those nanny rescue shows. My interests and hobbies include Topshop, ‘House of Cards’, Jay Z, and donuts.
My birthday technically isn’t until November, but this past Friday (May 8) was World Ovarian Cancer Day and it felt oddly similar (only better, because I get to stay the same age). When I was 28 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Having had a few Blue Moons the night before, I assumed I was just hung over. But on Day 2 of my “hangover” one of arms swelled up like I’d been stung by a jellyfish or something equally bizarre. Having been hungover a lot in my life, I knew something was off. At the emergency room they discovered blood clots in my neck and my shoulder (hence the swelling) and the countdown to the cancer discovery was underway.
The epilogue of that story is that I’m now 33. I’ve had 5 surgeries since then, the most recent being just 8 months ago. I’ve had four surgeries on my stomach to remove malignant tumors from my ovaries, stomach, kidneys and sometimes just an ovary in general. I also had a Valentine’s Day lumpectomy one year. #romance
Here’s the thing about me and cancer that most people find perverse. I’m glad it happened. I’m glad it happened all five times. It’s changed my life for the better in many ways, one of which being my aforementioned daughter, Macy. My husband and I adopted Macy from a tiny agency in Austin, Texas and were in the delivery room when she was born. The kid is our kid, meaning she’s extroverted, outgoing, and mildly obnoxious just like her adoptive parents.
Had I been able to have kids biologically Macy would not be our daughter, a thought more viscerally painful than any of my surgeries. Macy also brought her birth parents into our lives (or perhaps the other way around) and it’s an ongoing relationship that is refreshingly simple, based solely on mutual respect and appreciation.
“Quality of life” is a term that gets thrown around in the oncology world and cancer 100% improved mine in regards to my career. Prior to cancer, or “B.C.” if you will, I’d been a recruiter for five years. But when I was diagnosed, I started a Caringbridge blog to update my family and friends on my diagnosis/prognosis and life snowballed from there. My cancer blog was eventually replaced with my lifestyle blog, Greetings from Texas. Experiencing modest success there and having established an engaged audience, I had the confidence to attempt writing a memoir, 99 Problems But a Baby Ain’t One – A memoir about Cancer, Adoption, and My love for Jay Z , which ended up getting published at the end of 2013.
Through promoting the book in the Houston media circuit and taking on frequent freelance writing jobs, I established great relationships that are contributing to the success of my PR firm today. I’ve learned that the more direr a situation in life, the more opportunity for something great to come out of it. You just have to be open to it. Knowing this and believing in it as strongly as do is just another gift that cancer gave to me.
Speaking of gifts, lets get back to my birthday. Birthdays are an anniversary of the day you were born and a day meant for reflection, attention, and celebration. While today is not a particular cancer anniversary for me, I’m still reflecting, celebrating, and basking in the attention accordingly.
I’m reflecting on how it’s still crazy that I had cancer. It’s one of those things that never fully sinks in and will always remain surreal – even half a decade later. I’m reflecting on how strong and resilient my body is despite me fueling it with cocoa puffs (a vegan version though!), donuts, and chocolate chip cookies. (Not the vegan kind.) I’m reflecting on how much I love Macy despite her current sleeping arrangement. Seriously – someone nominate me for that show.
I’m feeling special and popular as I’m all over the internet and possibly even trending! #notreally But there are a handful of giveaways of my book going down, (including a Girl Talk HQ giveaway on the Facebook page!) and various guests posts like this to tell my story and spread the word about Ovarian Cancer. Help me do so by sharing this post!
I plan to celebrate with cake! And while I should go full circle on this thing and toast it with Blue Moon, I’m more into wine these days. Tonight I’ll even allow myself a 2nd glass, which technically I always do, but tonight I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I mean…it’s my birthday!
Megan Silianoff is the owner of Mad Meg, a boutique PR and creative services firm, author of 99 Problems But a Baby Ain’t One, and editor of the popular lifestyle blog Greetings from Texas. Megan has spoken for a variety of conferences and companies including Facebook, The US Air Force, Alt Summit, Texas Style Council, and the Houston Blogger Symposium. Megan is currently working on her 2nd book and spends her free time chasing her wild toddler, drinking old fashioneds, and searching for her perpetually lost cell phone.