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A Sign That Humor Works

Updated: May 21, 2020

My name is Sangela. I am 34-years-old and originally from Brazil but living in Virginia at the moment. I have always been a free spirit and outgoing so when cancer came knocking at my door I was scared but I didn’t let it crush my bubbly personality! I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2019 while pregnant with my second baby girl! 

At a time of celebration we got shocking news. First it was a regular ovarian cyst on my left ovary that would go away on its own. After two weeks I went back to my gynecologist with terrible back and abdominal pain. After they looked at the ultrasound they found out that the cyst had gone from 6 cm x 8 cm to 16 cm x 8 cm in just two weeks and this time the cyst had a more solid orange-size ball attached to it.

The doctor asked for me to see another gynecologist that specialized in ovarian cysts for a second opinion. I went home to wait for the next appointment to happen. Then at 4 a.m. I started to feel contractions as if I was having my daughter all over again. I was in such pain I couldn’t get off the floor and I started to vomit. My husband rushed me to the hospital where they had me do another ultrasound. We discovered that the cyst had ruptured on its own and the fluids were in my stomach, which caused the pain I was feeling.

The good news was I wouldn’t need surgery to remove it -- or so I thought. We went home and as requested by my gynecologist I needed that second opinion. Three days after the emergency room scare we went to the cyst specialist and discovered that I had a germ cell tumor and it needed to be surgically removed because of its size and because it could be cancerous. But they didn’t know for sure.

I had my surgery and after I woke up my sweet husband delivered the sad news: “You have cancer.” After that news, my world broke down into a million pieces, but I needed to be strong for my children.

In the middle of all this craziness I was never alone. Four month ago, I had learned I was pregnant with my second child and this baby saved my life! If it wasn’t for her I would not have known about the cancer! My doctor said it was growing so rapidly that by the time I felt any symptoms it would of been too late for treatment. Getting pregnant with her saved me. Because during a regular pregnancy ultrasound check-up appointment is how my doctor noticed the cyst that later on grew into a tumor.

Just like that, my cancer journey began at age 34! Since I couldn’t control what had happened to me, I decided to use my humor to help me through this journey! I use my Instagram to capture it all -- funny letter board photos capturing my feelings towards cancer.

I would also take selfies making silly faces with my chemo nurse as a way to stay positive, and have a chemo count down -- and all the ladies getting chemo treatment loved having me around because I was always making jokes as soon as I walked through the door. My doctor said I was a positive influence on many of her patients.  

It’s true: Laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.

Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. 

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