or perhaps just why I write, and why I think it’s worth trying to turn part of the blog into a book.
I know I’ve covered this before: I work things out as I write, I find out what I think and feel about something as I write, and it’s a form of therapy for me. As I was reading the wonderful Anne Lamott book, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, so many things rang true for me. I love the following quote:
this is another reason people write: people need us, to mirror for them and for each other without distortion . . . to say “This is who we are.”
I am only one version of Who We Are. There are billions more, but they don’t all write. I hope to write my book to not only have a voice, to give myself a voice for what I have and am going through, but also in the hopes that I may strike a chord with people — either to help people understand what it’s like living with Stage IV breast cancer or for those with Stage IV breast cancer. Perhaps those with metastatic breast cancer will be able to read it and recognize some of themselves in it. Perhaps they won’t feel so lonely and out-of-touch with the healthy world. Perhaps they will have some “AHA!” moments, moments that give them a connection to someone else, even if it’s through the pages of a book. Perhaps all of that will help someone as they delve into their own journey with metastatic cancer.
I hope so, anyways. I know when someone has written something, whether in blog or book, that I can relate to on a deep level, it’s helped me. I know that when I was first diagnosed with Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a very rare cancer, I felt alone. I had breast cancer but it was a different cancer than the usual — Invasive Ductal Carcinoma — so there were some things that I couldn’t relate to with women who have IDC. I know that when I first met women online, a few of the women on Mothers With Cancer who also have IBC, I felt like I wasn’t so alone in the world anymore; I didn’t feel so very lonely in my disease.
As a woman, and especially as a mother with a disease like this, that was a gift. I hate that anyone has this disease, I really do. It’s a club none of us want to be members of; it’s a club that we wish and pray had zero members; but it’s a club that, if we have to be a part of it, we don’t want to be in it all by ourselves. I feel an instant comaraderie with these sisters in IBC, a feeling of “yes, you know . . . . you know.” How I wish they didn’t . . . . but how it helps me that they do. That’s just another one of the contradictions of having cancer.
Writing for me is a balm to an uneasy soul, a way to start mending a broken heart. It helps me in ways that I’m not even sure I know about yet. It fills me up and it lets things out, things that if kept inside of me will fester and rot and perhaps become bitter. It’s helped me in learning to Let Go.
It’s a strange journey, going through old blog posts to see what will remain in the book, what won’t, and what needs to be re-worked a bit for clarification. It’s kind of like looking at old home movies, remembering where you were in life at that time, going through those emotions again. Some of it is painful and some of it is joyous, but all of it is mine. My journey, my feelings, my mistakes, my triumphs, my sadness, my joy, my tears, my laughter. Regardless of what has happened and some of the pain that’s been in the journey, I own it. It’s mine . . . but it might strike a chord with others as well. If it does, if it helps even one person . . . well, then I’m glad. I can’t bring myself to say that it’s all been worth it because I still wish I had never had this cancer. I don’t know that I’ll ever be grateful for the cancer, even as I’m grateful for some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Yet another paradox of living with metastatic cancer.
I look at the woman I was when I was going through cancer the first time, and she teaches me things. On the other hand, I can see how much I’ve changed, learned, and grown. It’s bittersweet. It’s taught me how very precious and beautiful life is, but the lessons have come at a cost.
I’ve learned — and continue to learn — so very much, and so I write . . . .
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.