The Wounded Storyteller
The Wounded Storyteller is the title of a book by Arthur Frank which portrays individuals who live with some form of illness or disability in what he terms “remission society.” His basic premise is that we are more than mere “victims” of a disease but that we are “wounded storytellers” who tell our stories to make sense of our suffering and thereby find healing.
According to the author, there exists three narratives of illness – restitution, chaos, and quest. I recognise myself in the last of these – the quest narrative – seeing cancer as a journey/a quest on which the person can be transformed.
This then is the story behind Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. It is a personal journey; the intention is not to offer advice but merely the hope that in my story others on the same path may find some resonance and the knowledge that they are not alone. There are many blogs, chat forums and websites available for those newly diagnosed, or going through treatment, but not so much out there on what it is like to have gone through the experience and how you integrate it with the rest of your life. Finishing treatment can be a very unsettling time for a lot of people. You can feel cut adrift and alone – once the hectic round of hospital visits, treatment and check ups are over, what then? Often this is when the real psychological and emotional work starts.
Cancer, strikes a severe blow at our sense of self and our sense of past, present and future. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis shakes our very sense of identity to the very core and nothing will ever feel certain again. As we tell our story, we rebuild our wounded selves, learning to integrate our past, present and futures selves. Learning how others walked this path can enrich our own journey of discovery.