I never considered myself creative or crafty enough to get into scrapbooking (I tried…it didn’t turn out so well). Put a camera in my hand and I’ll fill a photo album quicker than you can say “Race for a Cure”. But all that theme page, sticker accent, cutesy captioning always seemed too much like work than fun. It was too much pressure to come up with new ideas.
But I love to write. I guess most bloggers do. Written words have always been better to me than the spoken ones, at least as far as my own are concerned. If I were asked to speak in front of a group, I would pull back and slip off to the back of the room, but if you asked me to write my thoughts for the same group, no problem. You will probably get more pages than you want read.
Since my cancer diagnosis, I have found writing to be more satisfying and a beneficial tool. Writing forces my mind to think more clearly. Along with giving me a sense of purpose. Writing re-energizes me and almost always makes me feel better. It is also visual proof I have accomplished something. And gives me confidence and inspires me to write more.
The down side to blogging, for me anyway, is that I often wake up in the middle of the night because of hot flashes or leg cramps and then my writer brain kicks into gear before I fall back asleep. I can’t seem to stop ideas from tumbling around in my head. There are times, I do get good ideas for blogs and I probably should write them down immediately, but I’m pretty sure turning on the light would be highly annoying to Dear Hubby, so I just try to remember and write them down when I get up. Besides if I did get up and start writing, which I have done at times, I’m pretty sure sleep would cease to exist for me. And a good night’s sleep is hard enough, when on Tamoxifen, to come by lately.
When you are going through cancer, or any stressful time in your life, writing, or more specifically journaling/blogging, is a very powerful tool to help you cope, which unfortunately not enough people tap into. Journaling/blogging can help get you through the rough patches. Just seeing your thoughts and feelings written down somehow validates them, even if you are the only one seeing them. And with blogging, others can see that they are not alone.
Ever wonder, how can a six-letter word wreck your life in a heartbeat? You might not think it possible, but I assure you it can. When I heard the word “cancer,” my life, as I knew it, was completely ripped apart, turned upside down and inside out. I knew from that point forward nothing would ever be the same. It’s been 1078 days since I received my initial diagnosis, and it still feels like it was yesterday.
And during those 1078 days, I’ve experienced more than I ever dreamed I would. I’ve seen my body be disfigured and felt more pain than I can ever put in words. Even though it seems like another lifetime but it will only be three short years this May (on my anniversary, no less) since I heard the dreaded words, “you have cancer.” Some of my feelings and experiences are very fresh in my mind and others I’ve carefully tucked away. Some are too private and painful to share but others I think might be helpful to those newly diagnosed, and that’s one reason I’m so thankful I began recording my journey on the day my life changed.
Blogging/Journaling started out as a way to process my feelings. I needed a safe place to share my thoughts – a place where I wouldn’t be judged or criticized. I started writing daily in journals, but after a week, I had a talk with my sister and I decided to write a blog. I wanted a more creative outlet where I thought others could benefit from my experiences, so began my blogging. It was much easier to sit at the computer and type up my thoughts. I could add photos, media and tags to my posts. If I wanted to share them I could. If I didn’t, I could mark them as private.
After the first couple of weeks, writing on my blog became an inner cleansing for me. I realized, when I was blogging, it was like talking to an old friend. I looked forward to recording my thoughts and feelings. At the end of the first year, I read back through my posts. I was amazed at the rollercoaster of emotions my life had traveled. I’d had so many bad days but the good days barely seemed to have outweighed the bad. I tried to be open and honest in my writing. I wanted my children to read through my posts one day and understand how I’d learned to deal with the hand cancer dealt me. I wanted them to know the reality of my pain, but also the joy of my triumphs.
God had mercy on me. I didn’t need to have chemo or radiation treatment. But hormone theropy has caused its own turmoil with my body and mind. Sometimes I feel like watching a DVD or listening to music, sometimes I can concentrate to read a book, and sometimes I just want to lay in bed and sleep through the fact that my mind is going in a hundred directions and none of them happen to be useful.
I’m normally a very social person, but this hormone theropy has its ups and downs for me.
My journaling/blogging is my scrapbook, something that I can control. It is probably not healthy…because it is like a security blanket at times.
It’s in my phone connected with my Facebook page, opening my soul to those who choose to read. Because it represents all the good and positive things that are going on along with the bad and ugly, and it represents all the family and friends who were right by my side as well as those who couldn’t possibly be-like my sister and friends in California or my friends and family in Florida, along with those in New York, Idaho and Pennsylvania. They all get to see a glimpse of what is happening or going on inside my head. The days tell stories I read or lived, or research I have done to find out how to cope.
If I had had all my family and friends close by, I think I would have had a “bye, bye boobie” party. I figure, I never had a bachelorette party or even a big birthday bash! Could you imagine what an interesting cake I would have had.
I read a horoscope right after my mastectomy, “Healing energy is available to you. Try to find places where you can rest.” This is something that every Breast Cancer survivor needs to do.
“I would rather be admired for the breadth of my kindness than the length of my legs, the size of my heart than the fullness of my breasts, and the shape of my thoughts than the proportions of my body.”
This journal is probably more creative than I think. It works because I not only created it for me, but for all those that would read it. It is a reminder of how I chose to be strong, to stand up and fight, during one of life’s low points. But you know what? It is really a reminder of all the many blessings that saw me through this time, and that’s something I don’t ever want to forget.
Everyone has their own way of coping with a cancer diagnosis. Journaling may not appeal to you. But I needed to blog. It was very helpful to me. I continue blogging about my journey today. When I was first diagnosed, my blog was a Facebook page titled “Dear God, They say it’s Cancer, my journey” and as I began to move out of the treatment phase of my journey and back into life, I moved my blog to another site http://www.breastcancermyway.com. At the end of each year, I will have my blogs printed into hardback books (offered as a service to bloggers from another online site). These books will be a permanent record for my children and grandchildren. It is my hope, that one day, they’ll take the time to read every entry and realize cancer was the most difficult time of my life, but also the one that taught me the most. 1078 days, and I’m still here. Tomorrow will be 1079!
We know that a cancer diagnosis can make your life very hectic. There are lots of tests and appointments to attend, and that’s in addition to the rest of your normal daily activities. With all the rushing around, it can be hard to pause and really acknowledge what you’re going through.
Making time to journal will give you the chance to slow down and reflect on what’s happening. You’ll also have the chance to check in with yourself. What does the diagnosis mean for you and your family? How do you feel about it? What are your fears or concerns? What do you feel good about?
Reflecting on these questions can bring you a bit of clarity and calm in the midst of a busy and stressful period.