I can hardly believe that nearly a year has passed since I was diagnosed with breast cancer; a year which I can only describe as an emotional roller coaster. Like most people when diagnosed with a life threatening illness, I underwent the typical stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I can almost pinpoint the exact moment that I transitioned from depression to acceptance. It was a beautiful day in October, six months after my initial diagnosis, and my body was under assault from a difficult round of chemotherapy. I was lying in bed, looking through the window as my mother collected the last of the summer tomatoes from my greenhouse. It saddened me that I was not out there with her, enjoying the sunshine and harvesting the fruits of my labour. While wallowing in self pity, I came to an important realization. It suddenly dawned on me that feeling sorry for myself was not going to help me to get well. As a Psychologist, I knew that positive emotions such as happiness and love, help to boost the immune system and enhance healing. Negative emotions, such as anger and depression on the other hand, have been proven to suppress the immune system. Since I needed a healthy immune system to fight cancer, a positive attitude was vital to my recovery!
I convinced myself that cancer wasn’t THAT bad, hey it even had its perks. For example, since getting cancer, not once did I have to help with the dishes at big family dinners. The thought of that made me smile, and instantly I felt a little better. I then issued myself a challenge: I would find 100 perks of having cancer, and so a blogger was born.
Had I not gotten cancer, I would probably never have discovered the blogosphere and all of its hidden treasures. Since I have always enjoyed writing, blogging became a creative outlet for me. It also gave me a sense of purpose. After spending nearly twenty years in the helping profession, a big part of my life was missing when I came off work. Through my blog and the response from my readers, I know that I am still helping people, if only by making them smile. Blogging has also connected me to so many kindred spirits. Seeing new posts from Susan, AnneMarie, Jen, Marie, Shanna, Rachel, Nancy, and others is like getting an email from an old friend. I love to grab a cuppa and find out what my cyber friends are up to: how did Rachel’s scan turn out? What is Shanna’s latest juicing concoction? Is Jen’s hair coming in? These people have become part of my support network as we share our highs and lows (okay, I only share my highs, but I do have my lows). And so, today I give thanks to my blogging friends, and honour the art of blogging as one of my perks of having cancer.
Tip: It is good to have a creative outlet when you are dealing with cancer. Try blogging, journaling, painting, gardening, or whatever it is that lets your creative juices flow.