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For the September Issue of More magazine I got to share some of the writing I did when I was going through chemo. I always imagined that I might share it with a friend or other survivors and that gave me a sense of purpose, but I never dreamt I would hand over the writing to an editor to read over one day.
Journaling kept me busy when I was sick. It helped me overcome fear, process my emotions, and ultimately showed me how far I had come. There is power over fear when you can externalize it. Cancer is all about the loss of control. You lose control of your body, your future, but my writing… well I had control over that. One thing I particularly liked about journaling through cancer was that it helped me share and re-share my emotions without feeling like a broken record to my friends and family. When you have cancer you can begin to feel like you are a burden. Writing allowed me to process my feelings without feeling like people were getting tired of hearing me.
There were many times that I would sit down to write and feel like I had the weight of the world on my chest. After pouring my heart out I would feel hopeful. I could see the future again and that helped me reaffirm that I was okay.
Here are just a few of the editor’s favorites quotes that she pulled out and some of mine too-
“Since my diagnosis I feel like I’m always on the verge of capsizing, barely holding it together. I’ve never felt so alone before and the irony is I’m constantly surrounded by people… my doctor, nurses, family, friends. Cancer separates us. I can no longer think about the little things that make up life like traffic jams or dinner plans. I’m just sitting here starting death in the face. Alone.”
“It’s hard to see a future from here. I’ve never realized how much getting through a day is about looking towards what’s to come. It’s hard to sit in the present, especially when the present is cancer. Thinking about the entirety of this is overwhelming. I’m just leaning in, telling myself that it’s just about taking it one day at a time.”
“Cancer is so excruciatingly lonely. Today I saw the famous photo of the lighthouse with waves crashing in around it. I’ve seen that photo a hundred times, but today I suddenly understood it and really SAW it for the first time. I feel like my life is crashing in around me. I’m lost, adrift, but I’m wildly fighting to keep my head above the water.”
“It’s hard to explain to people how cancer affects you emotionally. We all intellectually know we are going to die, but when you are staring death in the face it’s a different type of knowing… of understanding. I feel it deeply and it’s so incredible painful. I don’t want to leave my family. I’m desperately hanging on to them. I have so many things I want to do. I’ve never swam in the ocean at night, hugged a stranger, or run in the rain for no other reason than just because I can. When I get through this I hope I can remember how sacred these moments are.”