Cancer and the Writing Life

Cancer and the Writing Life

I’m a member of the pink brigade – a breast cancer survivor. Lately, cancer has been on my mind a lot. A friend is waiting for biopsy results. We’re closing in on four years since I first heard the dreaded, “you have cancer.” And, I’ve been in a reflective frame of mind and starting to ponder what this experience/journey/blip on my life’s radar has meant to me. Certainly cancer has shown up in my writing. My piece up now on this site, Marking Mildred, deals with an elderly woman who is a survivor. In another piece, published at Grey Sparrow, a college age girl is facing her mother’s imminent death, from, of course, cancer. I’m working on a personal essay about my experience.

Today, I found a marvelous blog post shared on facebook. Written by Anne Clinard Barnhill, the post is titled “What Cancer has Taught Me About Writing and Living.”  She talks about three elements that affect both writing and living with cancer: 1) surprise, 2) patience and perserverance, and 3) faith, hope and love.

I do hope as you read this, that you are not a member of the cancer brigade, but even if you’re not, you’re sure to have known someone who is/was. Anne’s post is inspiring and instructive. Her optimism and confidence will uplift you. I hope you’ll read her post and pass it on if you know someone who could use it too.

4 thoughts on “Cancer and the Writing Life

  1. Thank you for this essay and the comments. All of you sound like the women we work with at ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. They, too, share their uninvited wisdom. We will let them know about your blog.

  2. Thank you for your post. In January of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and fell off the cancer cliff, if you will. After many hellish weeks, my surgery is over and I have just finished radiation. One physician told me that I had “a good cancer” and I felt like screaming. Now, however, I realize that I am one of the fortunate ones, a woman who did not have to suffer chemotherapy and other painful, draining, horrific treatments. And, I am alive, happily alive. I have my “cancer poems,” but most of all I have the deep and abiding knowledge that my children were kinder to me than I deserved and that my friends offered me love and support, moment by moment, without being asked. I was proactive and asked many, many questions of my doctors. I did the internal work of healing (meditation, visualization, prayer, reiki), which was, some days, more difficult than the physical work of healing. Today, I am wiser , yet I live with the hope that some day no other woman will have to know what I know.

    • Ah, yes, the “good cancer.” Me too. I think of it as “cancer light,” but that can come with its own survivor guilt issues. Glad that you are healing, mentally and physically. Thank you for sharing.

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