What’s Next?

I started this blog to be sort of “an imaginary friend” who’d walk next to me with every step I took through my personal cancer journey. Someone I could cry to and share my experience with intellectually until I could figure how to deal with my feelings and emotions. I’ve always used diaries, journals, lone pieces of scrap paper to document my thoughts. It wasn’t as important for me to have someone read them as it was for me to have a concrete, irrefutable means of proving I’d had them. And because the pieces of paper I wrote on wouldn’t argue with me, shame me, marginalize me, or ridicule me, I always felt safe sharing my thoughts and ideas “in my own little corner in my own little room…I could be whatever I’d like to be…”  Cinderella had mice.  I had paper.

The blog was also a vehicle I could use to deliver news to friends and family who wanted to know what was going on, how I was feeling, how I “discovered IT”. Although the act of retelling one’s personal story can be healing, it can also be exhausting. Well, it can be exhausting to a person like me who could take 35 words to describe how I poured myself a cup of coffee this morning.  I paint verbal pictures.  Where someone might want to know positive or negative, chemo or not, I need to d-e-t-a-i-l the who, what, where, how, and WHY of whether it’s positive or negative, chemo or not. So my blog was a way to save both me and the curious a lot of pain.

Finally, the blog was my acceptance that my personal experiences could help others.  For several decades I’d been encouraged by both men and women to write about my “experience”.  Ya, ya, ya…blah, blah…  Like anyone could find anything I’ve done interesting.  Clumsy.  Foolish.  Stupid.  Ok.  But interesting?  Maybe a dark comedy…

The diagnosis, surgery and treatment did bring home for me the fact that I’m not going to live forever.  I’ll be 50 and FABULOUS in May.  And though I’m counting on living another 40 years or so, I didn’t want to wait another 5 or 10 years to shout from the roof tops that I’m a pretty cool lady with some interesting experiences and a humorous side that can sometimes make people blow milk, water, coffee out of their noses.  (I’m really better in person than I am on paper…it’s a visceral thing.) 

I had a “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself and aksed myself this question: “If I had one year left to live, am I living it the way I’d want to go out?”  Well, my answer was:  “HELL, NO!” 

I’d made mistakes and hit bumps in the road and then had GIVEN UP on some ideas, dreams, and visions that I’d had for myself.  My diagnosis propelled me to rethink how I define failure, mistakes, loss.  If I had one year left to live (and just for the record I’m cancer free so I’ve got as much time left to live as you…well, probably more time than some of you really old folks, but you know what I’m sayin’) what was I going to do with it? 

My answer?  SHARE IT.  Come hell or high water, interesting or not, with a million people or five, I was going to capture my ideas and warped sense of humor and share it with anyone or no one who wanted to join me.

So, in about 600 words I’ve explained why the blog STARTED. In far fewer I hope to explain where I think it can go.  Lots of us, women AND men, know the experience of cancer whether it attacted us in our own bodies or it dared to touch one of our family or friends.  There is pain in cancer.  But there can also be beauty, laughter, hope, peace, respect, and joy.  Each of you has a story. Each of you has a memory.  Each of you has an opportunity to share with the rest of us who you love, what they do that makes them special, what you admire about the person…what you miss.  I’m asking that you risk and share those stories, those memories here. 

Judy Zehner, a special friend and amazing woman I’ve respected for many years sent me an e-mail recently.  It stated: This was sent to me by my brother-in-law who lost his wife last year to cancer.  thought you might like to post it on your blog . . . .      or not . . .  Judy sent me beautiful images of a flickering candle.  I’m not sure how to get the flickering candle to flicker on the site yet…but I know how to share your words, Judy!  Amanda and I will work on the flickering!

All my best to all of you!

Angie