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Grant Winner: Rainey Rowan

My name is Rainey Rowan and I am an AYA breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in September 2019 with breast cancer at age 31 and am still finding my way back to some new version of normal. After a year of active treatment, I am currently in recovery and have started to socially support others finding post-cancer life as difficult as I have. A California native residing in NYC, I coordinate and manage experiential events. I love to sing and dance, visits renaissance fairs regularly, and am a self-proclaimed "admin faerie." Follow me for like-minded content. @babyphoenixez


A FUNNY Cancer Story. I mean other than the insane hilarity of having a life-threatening illness at a young age where every surgery and treatment and side effect seemed to go comically wrong -- let's see!


It was early in my diagnosis. I was still going through multiple scans and tests, all to figure out how my treatment process would go. The man I was just beginning to see romantically accompanied me to my first MRI. It's important to note that at this point we had not made our relationship official yet. He had decided, valiantly, to stick around after my biopsy came back positive for cancer, but -- that's a story for another day.


We wait the appropriate, outrageous, amount of time to finally be taken back into the room, and I'm given the rundown, handed a gown to change into, and asked if I have any body piercings. I do, in fact, have a belly button piercing that I have had for many years that I have never been able to take out because the backing was put on too tight when I initially got it. So it's just kinda lived on my body for a very long time. They asked me to remove it for the scan and, and with terror in my eyes, I said, “Well, uh, I don't know if I can do that.”


Fast forward to me in the dressing room frantically trying, in vain, to take out the piercing. I sheepishly open the door, catch my partner's eye, and ask him to help. He is a handyman by trade after all so he can figure this out. He enters the room, immediately climbs under my dressing gown and gets a full view of all my nakie parts in all their fluorescent light glory.


Just great, super attractive for a man that you've just started casually dating. He tries with all his might to undo the clasp, but again, to no avail. What happens next, well, he immediately opens the door, while still under my hospital gown, mind you, and screams out, “DOES ANYONE HAVE A SET OF PLIERS?!”


The next set of utterly embarrassing events consisted of a facilities manager being called to obtain pliers, still more attempts of prying the cold hard steel from my innocent body, and still, no go. We were considering finding metal cutters to get it out, and only then did they decide that it didn't need to be removed because it was surgical steel, and “It wouldn’t really matter anyway” for the scan. Wow, cool.


I was only dying of embarrassment and frustration as the MRI machine beeped and spun for the next half an hour. To be fair, this is still one of our favorite early cancer/relationship stories to tell to this day. What a ride.

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