My name is Alana Donovan, I am 32 years young and live in Whitby, Ontario Canada with my amazing husband and our adopted fur baby, Stymie the cat. (But I would love to have a pet chicken though!). I was diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma in 2020 and am currently on target therapy treatments indefinitely. I have completed surgery, brain radiation and the cancer is currently stable. However, as mentioned before, my biggest goal in life is to become a mom. Unfortunately, this has to be the most expensive goal in the world! IVF alone took a massive chunk out of our savings, and because melanoma can spread to the baby in the womb, surrogacy is our most likely chance to become parents. Little did we know when embarking on our fertility journey, the average surrogate costs between $80,000 to $100,000. We are trying our very best to remain hopeful and work at saving. Thank you for reminding me, even on the darkest days, to stop and laugh at the funny things that this life has to offer.
I dedicate this entry to my secret tooters and the nighttime booty whistlers – an ode to sleepy time flatulence.
I have been a worrier and a people pleaser my whole life. I am certain that I came out of the womb with an apology letter tightly grasped in my tiny, premature hand – “Sorry I’m early, and I didn’t bring snacks or "Sorry for putting you on bedrest, ma!” or maybe it was more of an insurance apology for the life I was about to live. Regardless, I have mastered the art of delicately tiptoeing around eggshells for 32 years. What a gift!
When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2020, I had the opportunity to experience not only the weight of my own worry but the bone breaking weight of everyone else’s worry as well. You should have seen me then! No more were the days of gracefully prancing my way through eggshell sprinkled gardens, I was now hurtling myself through battlefields, dodging emu-sized eggs being relentlessly pelted in my direction. This is how I got my nickname “Light Foot.” That’s a lie, no one calls me that. I will say this has been the closest I have come to getting a face tattoo, it would simply read, “I’m fine,” which is a lie I have learned to love and throw around like confetti. Not only has it protected me but also everyone else around me.
This golden lie has allowed me to silence my urge to set small fires or jump off of a roof while getting through many conversations with healthcare professionals and Instagram acquaintances alike.
As someone who has always worried about upsetting whomever I am speaking with, I have also found that “I’m fine” stops me from walking down that horrifically awkward path that I wake up telling myself I will NOT go down. You know the one, where you have obviously overshared a time in your “cancer JouRneY” and now Person B doesn’t know what to say so your stomach drops, you take their hand in your sweaty palm and lead them down a trail of bizarre back peddling and word vomit that is you “comforting” them.
Yeah, that path sucks.
I want you to imagine yourself on this path now, but you’re naked, drugged and your feet are well above your head in stirrups. Just another typical Wednesday. Thanks to cancer, my lifelong dream of becoming a mom has been stomped on, spit at and flushed down the toilet at least seven times. Thanks to science, my husband and I were able to complete a successful IVF cycle and now have three embryos on ice, not shaken nor stirred.
I can wholeheartedly tell you, as grateful as I am to even type that last sentence. I spent the entirety of the process leading up to egg retrieval skipping down the path we don’t mention, laughing manically as I ripped away the caution tape, stomping on ALL the eggshells.
It was egg retrieval day and I was sick with worry. I had spent too much time Googling about conscious sedation and became obsessed with the horror stories detailing all that could go wrong while having no control over your body, but being able to hear everything around you -- that sounds like the plot of a future M. Night Shyamalan movie.
A normal person would likely be worried about feeling pain. I was worried about my secret. A secret that only my poor husband and cat are all too aware of. This secret of mine is not one that you can see with your naked eye but certainly one that you can smell from a mile away. In the silence of the night, as I peacefully drift away, the curtains open and my sphincter puts on the performance of the decade.
My loving husband kindly reminded me of my musical secret days before I was to go under conscious sedation. Every time I closed my eyes I could see it – the innocent nurses and fertility doctor gathered around, similar to a sweet family away camping, ready to roast marshmallows by the fire. But we were cooking with gas. I was hitting high notes, low notes, whistle tones, you name it! Imagine trying to push these oddly specific and vivid images out of your brain once you hear the door open and your fertility doctor’s kind “hello, ready to get started?”
I felt the drugs kicking in, my body becoming heavy, the fertility doctor inching closer to my “good side.” Panicking, I felt my arm gently raise and my hand transform into some lazy “Scout’s honour” gesture combined with The Hunger Games sign. My lips parted, and the words came out slower and much louder than anyone could have anticipated. ”I promise I won’t fart on you, doc.”