I did it.
I cashed in on some bravery and read through all the notes, journals and scribbles of paper that I have been writing on ever since the great lump discovery. I had scribbles on the backs of cereal boxes penned while grocery shopping, jottings captured on different restaurant napkins, perspectives scrawled out on a rainbow of various post-it notes, and multiple journals full of stories, observations and frustrations. March became a month saturated in organizing and writing. And what was the result?
I wrote a book.
She’s in its fullest roughest form right now, desperate for copious amounts of editing and really can’t be finished until I’m done with the chemo chair, but… I did it. I’ve emptied my head of all the many wacky stories, and painful experiences, taking the time to be truly honest with myself about this adventure. Writing has acted like a form of therapy for me.
It’s easy to get caught up in the job of cancer; the appointments, the treatments, the recovering just to get knocked down again, and the emotions hopping up and down like ignored children get shoved aside. Although it’s natural after a trauma to be desperate to move forward, away from the painful memories, I knew I needed to give every hidden emotion that has been sitting patiently on the sidelines an opportunity to be acknowledged and released. And writing has been the best tool for me to do just that.
If you asked me in high school if I fancied myself a writer, I would have laughed. After all, I had a sorted history with the written word:
in elementary school I received extra phonics help during the ‘hooked on phonics’ push,
in high school I kept a spelling calculator in my pencil case hoping to catch my pesky spelling errors before they revealed the truth about my backwards thinking,
I suffered through many a grammar lesson with my dad, King Grammarian, while he annihilated my essays with the flaming red pen,
I have avoided playing Scrabble my entire life, embarrassed at my creative spelling skills,
and I actually did a happy dance at the end of first year University when it was no longer mandatory to take English. I was finally free from the humiliation!
Nope, writing was the last thing I saw myself doing.
It’s so easy to assume things I’ve always enjoyed or didn’t like at all in my past, remain true today. Hard not to wonder how many other things I claim I’m not good at, are really things I would enjoy exploring now?
Fast forward 21 years and as it turns out, I’m having a real hoot writing. I’m now the person who walks around with a blank journal in her purse and q-cards in her yoga bag to ensure to catch random ideas, whims, unique phrases or wonderings before they leave as quickly as they appear.
Ultimately, the book is something I am doing for me. It’s the book I wish existed at the beginning of this journey offering wise tidbits not shared by doctors and heads ups about things I never saw coming until they were right in front of me.
Reliving this experience that 'I’m still knee deep in’ is allowing me to:
celebrate getting through the good, bad, and ugly…. not to mention the uglier.
laugh at things that happened that could really only happen to me.
forgive hurtful comments and moments I have been treated with ignorance.
see and appreciate my own strength.
swim in gratitude for the kindnesses that has been shown to me by so many people.
begin to see just the tip of mountain of lessons and blessings that are all part of this journey.
I’ve said from the beginning I was going to love cancer out of me, because when it’s finally gone, I would much rather be left with some good old fashioned love than victimized anger or resentment. It hasn’t been easy to chose love, and I continue to navigate around rabbit holes, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth the work.
Getting to this point with my writing I’m certain of one thing, when I tell myself I can’t do something, I’m always right. Time to release old assumptions, and no longer use ‘what has always been’, as a reason to avoid trying something a first or even third time.
So for now, I will write on… to the editing table!