Life is crazy weird. Sometimes, it’s amazing and shocks you beyond belief with its beauty and unexpected bliss…and sometimes it tells you that you have cancer.
In 2014, I was a makeup artist and store manager for one of the world’s top cosmetics companies. I lived in Santa Cruz, CA, was married, had two perfect little babies and considered my life to be pretty perfect as well. Except, underneath it all...if I really dug down there and honestly looked…I was miserable. I was hiding. I had all of these things, but I ignored the world around me. I was oblivious to the actual state of things in my world, in my community, and in my own body. It’s really easy to smile and say that you are happy, while really it’s just that you are numb, pretending for so long that you forgot what’s real.
I was not taught at a young age to respect my body, to fill it with healthy foods and anoint it with natural products. My body was not my “temple” (that was definitely a bunch of “hippie bullshit” in my little punk-rocker mind) it was not respected.
Back to my make-up-artist-perfect-life. I started to finally open my eyes a little. That’s just what happens when you become a mother, you don’t really have a choice. You actually have to start paying attention to what’s going on around you. To what’s real. I started to notice when my husband would treat me poorly, and I knew that I didn’t want my kids to see me treated that way, so I finally made a decision for the benefit of my life and theirs and left him. We never saw him again.
After that, I felt good! Like hells yes! I stood up for myself and my kids! I finally said NO to a man!! WooHOOO! It was empowering, and even though it meant that he also abandoned my children, it was the best thing that could’ve happened to all of us.
After a while, the kids and I got in a groove with some help from friends and we were doing really well. I felt happy, truly, for the first time. I figured that I would just be single until my kids were grown, which seemed like a realllllllly long time (since they were still in diapers) but better that than ever trusting anyone again…until life brought an old friend back to me and he just so happened to be one of the only men that I ever did completely trust and confide in throughout my life. I knew that I didn’t want to have more kids, at least not for a good long while, so I made an appointment with my MD to get an IUD. I was all set up in the stirrups in her office, and she was literally about to insert the thing in me until for some reason, totally off the wall, I asked her if it “was ok to have the copper IUD if you are allergic to metal?” “UH, I have never been asked that question before, if you’d like, we can wait and I will look into that. But since you’re here in the stirrups and you haven’t had one in a while, let’s do a pap smear”. “Okay, great doc sounds good”. You’re the professional in charge of my health, do as you will!!
About a week later, I received an email from her office, “The result of your pap smear is NORMAL.” Okay cool, sounds great. No one from her office ever called me again about the copper IUD, so I decided to make an appointment with my OB. I go to my appointment with her, am in the stirrups again (she said the copper would be fine) and she’s about to insert the IUD (again) and for some reason (here’s that badass known as intuition again ladies) I blurt out, “can you just recheck the results of my last pap with my MD please? I got an email saying that everything is fine, but just in case…” She said sure and turned to her computer and pulled it up. “Actually Megan, no, this is not fine. There were high-risk abnormal cells and we need to do a biopsy, right now”. That’s one of those moments where time stops. Like everything was frozen and I was left shivering in fear.
How did it go from one moment of “oh let me go and get an IUD because I’m in a great committed relationship finally” to “SOMETHING IS NOT FINE AND YOU MIGHT HAVE CANCER”. I do not know why I asked those two questions, my doctors don’t either. My OB would tell me later that my intuition saved my life. And that is true. If I had not listened, I might not be here writing this now, and my babies would have a very different life.
My OB and I called my doctor's office and asked her why she sent me the email saying that I was fine when I wasn’t. She said, “Well she’s young and healthy and had nothing previously so honestly, I didn’t even read her pap results sheet”. I could have sued her. My OB said that I should. Instead, I enlisted her to help me. To do anything that she could to save my life. So she did. Cervical cancer is what they told me I had. I went into a dark tunnel of fear. I couldn’t show it outwardly because I didn’t want my kids to see that and know anything was wrong, but man, when you are faced with death when you have two young kids and are the only parent…you experience a level of fear that I never could have believed existed previously. I had to have another surgery, to see if the cancer had spread. The date of the surgery landed on my new loves 40th birthday. He sat holding my hand in the hospital the whole time. He held me up through the entire, excruciating process of waiting for results, through the panic attacks and anxiety, through it all. I was so scared that my gums would bleed, but I refused to cry. I couldn’t sleep, so every night, he read me to sleep.
After the second surgery and a few weeks of waiting for results, I was cleared of any cancer. I was lucky. I didn’t have to do any chemo. A few months later, I had a hysterectomy but was able to keep my ovaries so that I would still have a cycle and not go into early menopause.
You’re probably wondering what the hell any of this has to do with Fat and the Moon…
After surgery, we moved out of Santa Cruz and back to my hometown of Nevada City, CA. I left my job and started the insanely difficult task of “starting over” in every way. My doctors told me that my body and everything would be the “same”. That losing my cervix and uterus wouldn’t affect my hormones or anything else. Ummm…that is not correct information my friends. Everything changed. My body, my face, my skin, my hair, it all seemed to age 10 years in a blink and sink and swell and fall out in all the wrong places. I didn’t recognize my face in the mirror anymore. My skin became SO dry, nothing worked, and I began to question if I was really a woman anymore. After all, a uterus is that magical place inside of a woman that makes her, her, right? That creates life and bleeds every month with the moon. I sank into a deep depression.
I was in a local store (the raddest one in town!) owned by an old friend and I noticed a different looking brand of skincare and beauty products. I checked out a few things but felt so low and uncomfortable in my skin that I didn’t really consider buying anything. Then I noticed a Body oil called Moon Fat. Moon Fat?? It sounded interesting so I read the label. The description of the oil struck a chord with me. I wanted to feel a connection to the moon, to experience the “fat” of the oils in the ingredients nourishing my skin! Maybe it would help. I bought it. I spent 13 years working in the beauty industry, surrounded by every kind of “fancy” chemical-rich skincare that I could want and I swear to you, this oil kicked the shit out of them all. I cried. My skin felt “soft” again! It drank it up and left the most beautiful hint of scent on my poor, dry, stress- ravaged skin. I felt like a woman again. Yes, this simple little body oil from a tiny local company, gave that back to me. I was so thankful to have found it and them. I started following their Instagram page (of course) and reading all of their quirky posts, and then one not-so-quirky one about how while on vacation, the owners home burnt to the ground, along with all of her possessions. The post made me cry, I felt so connected to her for helping me so much without her even being aware, I wanted to help her back. How do you help someone when you have no idea who they are?
A couple years rolled by. My Fat and the Moon collection grew. I became a Real Estate agent (I know...weird, right?) and life went on. I still felt the lingering depression in the back of my mind and knew that the path that I was on was not the right one. I became really interested in herbal medicine and Ayurveda, so I signed up with the local college here and started studying. I especially wanted to learn about women’s health. I wanted to help women realize the importance of taking care of themselves by taking their health into their own hands. Not just taking their doctor's word for it and following along with their diagnoses…but to empower them to listen to their intuition.
There is so much talk of 'Self-Care' nowadays…it’s constant. But self-care should be more than just taking a bubble bath and posting it on Instagram. It should be about the whole Self. All of you. If you feel that something is wrong, or off or abnormal with your moon cycle, or if your gut is telling you that the ‘little pain you’ve been feeling’ is just not right…you need to honor yourself and get it checked. Be aggressive about it. USE those doctors to help you diagnose what’s going on in there! And once you have that knowledge, you can then decide on your own path for healing. The self-care of our vaginas (yoni, kooch, whatever you would like to call it) and our lives need to be protected and honored. Our bodies truly are our temples. Standing up for yourself is fucking HARD at times…but being told that you are sick is harder. Especially when it is something that you could’ve taken steps to prevent.
Now, through my interest in herbal medicine, women’s health and the small town magic abundant in Nevada City, I work for Fat and the Moon.
September is gynecological cancer awareness month, so in honor of that, I encourage you to go get checked and empower yourself with that knowledge. If you are like so many of us out there who don’t have health insurance and are afraid of the bill after you see a doctor, go find yourself a Planned Parenthood. I went to them after leaving my job and received some of the best medical care I’ve had. PP is an essential resource for women's health in this country, now more than ever. If Planned Parenthood goes away, countless numbers of women and girls who share my story will die from lack of affordable access to medical screenings and care.