“You have triple positive breast cancer.” I heard these words at 35 with my 10-month-old autistic baby in my arms. I couldn’t turn to my own mother because she’d died four years prior from metastatic breast cancer.
I did two things post-chemotherapy to stay alive and get happy:
Throughout my treatment I kept a breast blog so I could “talk” to my family and friends, keeping them updated with the nuances of my chemical cocktail like how when you have no nostril hair your nose drips uncontrollably or how my taste buds had turned into a sadistic salt shaker that destroyed all food.
My mother’s death, then my own near-death, made me fearless when it came to choosing who I was and what I wanted in the world. I learned that when I write, my world aligns. It’s necessary for my happiness and emotional health.
My cancer blog became the skeleton of a medical memoir that I hope to publish or at least show those family members and friends who held me upright when I was sinking under the strain of ill-health and caring for a high-needs child.
In my 30s my mettle was tested in the fires of human loss; the pain of failure and hopes changed. My plans for my son, myself and what I wanted to do in the world were dashed. I had to learn to walk a different path; the one I was given.
Writing creatively allowed me to see straight again post-cancer.