Writing about your cancer experiences can be really helpful to others, but it can also really help you. I know that in my own case, writing my blog posts and writing my book has helped me to process my cancer treatment experiences and the challenges I have faced as a survivor. Writing can have a really therapeutic impact, even if you don’t share what you write. It’s a great way to just get thoughts and feelings out of your mind so they can’t trouble you anymore.
One of my favorite poets, Lang Leav, wrote a wonderful poem about the power of writing.
Leav poignantly notes that writing may lead you to terrible places, since you cannot write about something you have not lived through. Writers are tasked with “bringing voice to suffering and torment” but must also “emerge from adversity, scathed but victorious” such that you can “light the way for others.”
So, how do you do that? How do you process your suffering without getting “lost down the twisted path of self-destruction” caused by “being too indulgent with your experience of these things” ?
When you delve back into your suffering, and write it out, you must remain a tourist to those experiences as Leav recommends. Do not wallow in the suffering but, rather, look through those tourist’s eyes to perceive what can be learned from that suffering.
Basically, when you write, write with a purpose. It sounds complicated but I will tell you that I have found it to be relatively simple. I never sit down to write about a challenge I have faced or an obstacle I have encountered without holding in my mind the lesson learned from that challenge or obstacle. I make sure that, when I write about suffering I have experienced, the story of suffering acts as a lead-in to a piece of advice or word of wisdom. After all, every experience of suffering teaches us something, even if the only thing you learn from it is that you can actually survive such suffering (something you likely would not have believed before). That simple realization of possibility, conveyed through writing, can provide immense hope to someone else.
With that, I encourage you to write about your challenging experiences, whether they are related to cancer or not. You never know who may be encouraged and inspired by your words.