Candlelight Conversations Volume 13: Alison Rodriguez
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU! WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
This year my mission is to spread ovarian cancer awareness through my social media platform. Aside from documenting my journey on my Instagram page, every Tuesday I focus on posting ovarian cancer symptoms, in solidarity with the hashtag, “#tealtuesday.” Recognizing these symptoms can potentially save lives, and if I’m able to get the message across to at least one person, I’d feel accomplished. In addition, me and four other girls are actively working on establishing a non-profit organization, The Grateful Hearts, geared toward creating a safe space for young women battling cancer.
On my free time, I find joy in designing floral arrangements for a variety of events. These events range from family get togethers, to more organized retreats with The Grateful Hearts. I hope to one day turn this hobby into a career, and start up an events coordinating business, focusing on floral arrangements.
WE BELIEVE THAT JUST LIKE BROKEN POTTERY PUT BACK TOGETHER WITH GOLD, WE ARE MADE WHOLE AGAIN IN SPITE OF OUR TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS AND ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE HAVING BEEN BROKEN. WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR KINTSUGI STORY!
On July 12, 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer-Serous Carcinoma, and had emergency surgery five days later. I had a full hysterectomy, my omentum and spleen were removed, as well as a portion of my colon. My Oncologist recommended one year of chemotherapy, which I completed this past month. However, two weeks before my last chemo session, a CT scan revealed that four lymph nodes in my abdomen increased in size. A PET scan and biopsy confirmed that there is still cancer in my lymph nodes, which will require another six months of chemotherapy. I have complete faith that these last chemo cycles will get me to the finish line.
Although this experience has been a difficult journey, it’s taught me to live each day with purpose. I enjoy the simple things, like walking my dogs, or cooking breakfast in the morning, and I really value the time I spend with my boyfriend, my family, and my friends. The silver lining through all of this is that cancer has pushed me to break out of my shell and dive headfirst into the things that I am truly passionate about (I took my first floral arrangement class this year)!
Having been broken, I’ve become fearless and more motivated than ever. My friends and I have even coined the hashtag, “#AliFightstoWin,” which I include in all of my IG photos because it reminds me that I am strong and capable of overcoming anything. Sometimes the things that break you, are what allow you to reach your maximum potential.
Our minds and bodies are so powerful, that together with faith, hope, and love, anything is possible.
SHARING YOUR STORY AND OWNING YOUR TRUTH IS SO IMPORTANT! HOW DO YOU PROMOTE AUTHENTICITY?
Absolutely! For me, there’s nothing more authentic than being as open as possible about my battle with cancer; however, I don’t allow my illness to hinder my creative spirit. I also use my IG page as an outlet to express my affinity for fashion and floristry. Although I remain available to comfort any woman in my situation, I thrive on being able to capture the beautiful, picturesque moments in life. Cancer does not define me. The beauty in my life is my truth.
HOW DO YOU PRACTICE SELF-CARE AND SELF LOVE?
Going on walks, writing in my journal every night, and going on mini getaways on my weeks off from chemo (love my Palm Springs getaways). Really, it can be anything that gives me the time to reflect and appreciate the present.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, WE ARE BIG PROPONENTS OF AROMATHERAPY? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SCENTS?
Cinnamon and rose. The nostalgic scent of cinnamon takes me back to celebrating the holidays with my family as a child. While rose is a classic scent that balances elegance and femininity, and instantly uplifts my mood.
YOUR STORY IS ONE THAT PERSONIFIES COURAGE AND RESILIENCE. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO ARE STRIVING TO OVERCOME AN OBSTACLE OR FIND THE BEAUTY IN THEIR BROKENNESS?
You truly don't know how strong you are until you are faced with a life-changing event. Our minds and bodies are so powerful, that together with faith, hope, and love, anything is possible. At first, I didn't know if I would be able to complete a year of chemotherapy. In fact, at times it seemed impossible to me… but I never told anyone. I didn’t allow myself to feed into that negative energy. Instead, I chose to wake up every day to continue fighting!
My advice to others facing adversity would be to shift your focus to what’s going right for you. Even the small victories are victories, embrace the good days, and find reasons to smile. Also, prayer and meditation will allow you to reflect deeply on your situation, and fully appreciate the blessings in your life. Lastly, no battle should be fought alone. I encourage anyone to find a support system, whether its friends, family, or professional therapy.
Each day, I wake up with a grateful heart, the will to survive, and the unwavering belief that my strength is more powerful than my illness. #AliFightstoWin.
WHO DOESN'T NEED A INSPIRATION? WHAT INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS DO YOU TURN TO FOR YOUR DAILY DOSE OF INSPO?
Some of my favorite IG accounts are:
@_thegratefulhearts_ - "Thriving together as women of color, circulating hope, and bringing cancer awareness."
@_brittany_crosby_ - The ovarian cancer slayer. I admire her strength, her determination, and faith in God.
@morganharpernichols - Her words are inspiring and give me hope.
WE WOULD LOVE TO CONTINUE TO FOLLOW YOUR JOURNEY! HOW CAN WE STAY CONNECTED WITH YOU?
Follow me on IG! @ali_lb_
I would love to stay connected and answer any questions that anyone may have.