If you need to refresh your memory, please refer to the blog “Why Meghan Writes” from October 29, 2015. You might also want to check out the guest blog Meghan did here from December 14, 2015.
Meghan is writing again and has given me permission to share her writings. Feel free to respond to Meghan’s column; she would love hearing from people. Here is a link to her website. Here is a recent post:
Three years….now what?
August 12th marked three years in remission. Three years since my knees buckled and I hit the floor of my parent’s house. Three years since I felt the most thrilling feeling of my life. I felt fearless, invincible, unstoppable. In that moment, I had just beat cancer at 24 and I had a whole life ahead of me to do anything.
I remember watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode during chemo and hearing the following quote, “It goes away. The feeling. That feeling you have right now….today….that feeling like you can do anything. That clarity…it goes away. And you go right back to bring the coward who can’t tell the person you love how you feel.”
I remember almost feeling angry at the TV. I remember wishing at the time that I’d hear the word remission and I’d forever be grateful. I wouldn’t ever forget that feeling. I would never forget what I had to go through and I’d be damned if I took for granted the second chance I received.
Fast forward three years and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at myself on my three year “remissionversary.” I had lost that feeling. More importantly, I had lost the confidence that came with it.
Three years have passed and I am still trying to heal from what cancer did to me. I’m still healing physically, and more importantly, I’m healing mentally. I am healing from what therapists call trauma, but from my other doctors just call bad luck. That’s what Hodgkin’s was, after all. Just the short straw I drew. Nothing I could’ve done to prevent it.
I dealt with mental health issues long before cancer. ADHD from childhood, anxiety and depression during a bad relationship, anxiety disorders and OCD that spun out of control from more bad relationships. Somehow, though, I’ve never talked to you about that. Mental health seems so much harder to speak about. It’s strange because I opened up to you about my most private thoughts through chemo. Hell, even telling you about my sucidal thoughts wasn’t hard. But to speak about mental health and the aftermath cancer leaves on you…that seems difficult.
So here I am, three years later, and the list of disorders I’ve received from therapists includes: ADHD, depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, sensory processing issues, OCD tendencies, and panic disorder. I’m sure there’s something I’m missing. This is the list that’s been formed overtime, by many, many therapists.
Three years later and I have lost loves, friendships, and most importantly, time. I have skipped my kid’s events, family reunions, classes, and work because somedays, whether it’s physical or mental, the pain is just too much.
This past year, I started to make big changes for myself. Unfortunately I got scared, I doubted myself and my progress, and I returned to the comfort of my own bad thoughts because at least I know what to expect there. Change is scary, no matter who is doing it. For me, post cancer, it’s become even scarier. What if I fail? What if I succeed, but then the cancer comes back? What if I spend time on school and then something happens to my health? Won’t I wish that time had been spent on my kids, and not my education? But what if I spend all my time on my kids and my health stays good? Then will I regret not getting an education? The doubting and second guessing these past three years has affected every part of my life.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people in my life and the one thing that is constant is the advice to do things for my own happiness. To figure out the woman and mother I want to be first before worrying about where all the other pieces lie. I know this won’t be an easy feat because I am constantly trying to make other people happy first.
So to end my long, rambling letter to you, I’ll tell you this. I refuse to feel defeated on my four year remissionversary. I refuse to feel like I wasted another year letting myself down and ruining things in my life due to my own mental state. This next year will be spent making changes. I hope to write to you often during this time. To share my adventures with you. To share my highs and lows. To share my learning experiences.
I have more health issues going on currently and for the first time since cancer, I’m going to remain hopeful that they are minor issues. I know I can solve any other diagnosis that comes my way and in the time spent fighting whatever this is, I’m going to learn to love myself and this life again. Stay tuned because it’s time to make great changes and I can’t wait to show you what’s next.
Until next time.
This category stems from my “adult presentations” on the Annemarie book. After I explain all the processes I had to learn about to do a children’s picture book, I move into why we write. I include some funny (?) stuff like how I seem to always write on New Year’s Eve where I review the previous year then plan for the upcoming one. However, in reading over past years’ entries I discovered my plans seemed to always be the same and after writing them concluded with a “Now or never!” I went back recently and wrote in big red letters….”Guess it’s never!”
I also took a journaling class which I found quite helpful. We learned how to cover up entries in a variety of ways on pages we didn’t want others to read. I really didn’t need to do much of that because my handwriting has always been such a scrawl that even I can’t read it two days later!
In my presentation I will stress that many of us do not write to make money. I also encourage the attendees to write for other important reasons. I usually show a picture that a former student of mine, an artist, created. It’s a pretty strange drawing, but I resonated with it. You can see that the drawing is a brain on overload and the statement near it “Shut up!”. I find myself in that dilemma often because I carry around in my head so many stories/worries/everything. I then reach a point where I have to spit it out so to speak, which means writing. Doing journals, blogs, or daily pages helps one track where he/she has been, and where the journey leads now.
In this area of my website I will share with you what others have written and allowed me to include as to why they write. In the future some of these individuals will be featured in interviews as well.
I write in journals or just little “pieces” when something moves me. But, as I state in my presentations, I never intended to write a children’s picture book. So why did I? Because when my daughter told me my granddaughter was complaining that I had taken her two brothers on many trips but never her, I started thinking. She was a “teeny bopper” at the time and I was certain she wouldn’t want to do a Grandma trip then. But, I did want to do something. So with another bit of information my daughter had shared, the idea to write a book about the experiences Annemarie and I had shared when she was a toddler, grew into what is now projected as a book series with the name brand Annemarie. In my mind, what greater gift could one give a child? Well, in Annemarie’s mind, not that! She was at an age where what others would think if they saw it made a difference, and she didn’t see it as positive. It took so long to get the first book out (and do check the annemariebooks.com website) that the finished product was something she could appreciate and now looks forward to the next book.
Recently I heard of a similar story. A Dad who wrote a picture book dedicated to his children. I hope someday to have him write about his experience for this blog.
Rosemary Ziebart is a friend. She writes many things including a “grandma” book. That’s how I met her. I saw she was doing a signing for her book. This was shortly before mine was to come out. I went to the bookstore the day after her signing. I wanted to hate that book, but I didn’t. I loved it! So I got in touch with her, and now we are friends and support each other’s efforts. Rosemary does plays and all sorts of writing, but the books which she cares deeply about are for middle school aged children and cover the time period of World War II when many children were sent to America to escape Hitler’s regime.
Her books are used in many of the schools for their “intercultural” requirement. Forced Journey was one of the first two she’s written in this series. She gives presentations at schools and includes a handout on why she writes and how she came to write this particular book. It started with being inspired by one of her college professors who often told the class, “I came to the United States at age 13 with just the clothes I’m wearing.” Quoting Rosemary, “Several years later I read a newspaper article about the “one thousand children” – Jewish children who’d fled Nazi-held Europe and found refuge in the United States” Thus Rosemary put the Professor’s story together with the article and started writing her book. A second book deals with a girl, not Jewish, but from a wealthy family in England who feared Hitler would win and they didn’t want her brought up in that type of country. This also happened during World War II. The stories are fiction based on fact; she hears from individuals who, like her Professor, lived the experience. They tell her how authentic her books are to what they lived.
In future blogs I will do an interview with Rosemary. One thing I love that she includes on her handout it this statement: “A few of you said you wished o be writers yourself. And I want to day that being a writer is both a gift and a responsibility. You have the opportunity of giving something of great value to other human beings. You’re not giving them a TV or a car or an IPad - but you’re giving your time and effort and a piece of your own heart and soul.”
Meghan – “Why She Writes”
Meghan is actually a relative of mine. She recently turned 24 and has a five year old son. I really didn’t know her at all because I’ve been gone for many years from my home town where she lives. I became aware of her health issue and then saw via Face Book that she was writing a blog. Following her blog led me to ask her if she might write a piece for me on why she was doing the blog. She graciously agreed as well as allowed me to also put anything from her pieces as well. I have used this in all of my adult presentations thus far and will continue to do so.
In April of this year, I was diagnosed with stage 2B Hodgkins Lymphoma. I quickly realized that I needed an outlet for the many emotions I felt daily. I started to write out my thoughts as I felt them and later, I’d go back to piece it all together. I started a blog documenting my battle and have gained a small following.
Writing has helped me in so many ways. Not only is it a way for me to help others battling cancer or other illnesses, but it’s a way to help me sort thought the many ups and downs. I think of writing as my own personal therapy session I get to vent about what I’m feeling whether it’s happiness, anger, frustration or gratefulness. Writing has given me a stronger voice than any therapist could have (and it’s free – can’t beat that!)
8 Weeks Past Chemo
A portion of one of her blogs I chose to use in my presentation:
“Cancer is a crazy thing. I have never been more surrounded by friends and family. I have never been more supported or loved, or more prayed for. But somehow, cancer can always leave you feeling alone. Sometimes (actually most time), I don’t mind it. I feel so full of thoughts and physical changes lately that most days, it’s easier to be in my bed alone to work though everything I’m dealing with.”
More from Pat on this ….
When one follows her blog regularly you can see how she moves forth in her journey and gains insights along the path. Comments from her followers also indicate that she really is helping others by sharing her experience. There are portions that I do not feel comfortable sharing here, but if you would be interested follow her Face Book – Meghan Bianco.
Along the same lines as Meghan’s story, today I heard about a similar blog on Face Book; this one on anorexia and how the person feels about the Halloween costumes exploiting this medical condition. In my book area I refer to an anthology where I have several pieces included. This book has all true experiences of moving from “grief” to “joy” when a loved one passes on.
At my age there are many “passing on”; however, there are also young people dying or being killed. How does one deal with the aches inside? I am not a Doctor or Nurse, but I firmly believe that we must “get it out” or it take a huge toll on our health.
So, that’s why we write! I do hope you will feel free to leave comments and/or to share some of your experiences with all of this.