A-Z of Blogging: B is for Blog #AtoZChallenge
26 posts. 26 days. 26 letters of the alphabet, one blog post beginning with each letter.
B is for Blog
It’s been ten years since I started this blog and today reading the comment below from Julia, I was struck by the thought that if I knew now what I didn’t know then, I would never have called it Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.
I know the term “journey” doesn’t sit well with everyone – but that’s a discussion for another day (though I will say here that I use the word in its metaphorical sense – as in Wendell Berry’s quote “. . .and the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
What I didn’t know then is that the path of breast cancer is a journey without end.
I somehow thought back then, there would be an end to it. There would be a day in which breast cancer was “over.” But that day never came. I am still journeying not beyond but with breast cancer.
I have written before about why I started this blog. How I struggled after treatment ended with depression and a feeling of being cut adrift. How I found plenty of resources for those going through treatment, but less about those who had come out the other side.
Here’s some of what I wrote at the time.
I was 34 years of age when I hit was hit with a juggernaut – the metaphorical juggernaut of the words “you’ve got cancer”. I went through nine months of treatment for my disease and I coped quite well with this period, but it was when my cancer treatment finally ended that the full impact of what had happened hit me.
There is an expectation that when you walk out of the hospital on your final day of treatment, your cancer story has ended; but the reality is that in many ways your story is only just beginning. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis shakes your sense of identity to its very core and afterward nothing will ever feel certain again. Friends and family may find it hard to comprehend why you are sad or depressed. Understandably your loved ones want you to put your cancer behind you, to get on with your life and move forward, but it isn’t so easy. Fellow cancer survivors do understand though and in my search to make sense of the experience of cancer and integrate it into my life, it was to these survivors that I needed to turn.
But where to find them? I searched online and while I found many blogs, chat forums and websites with great advice for those newly diagnosed, or going through treatment, I found it harder to access information on how to deal with the post-treatment limbo I found myself in. So I decided to start my own online resource – Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. I wanted to provide a safe space for myself and other cancer survivors to share our experiences of navigating our way through the ongoing journey with cancer.
So now I’ve gone and written another word that is not a word I would choose to use now – “survivorship”. But in my defense, I had no clue back then that there was such a thing as cancer recurrence or metastatic breast cancer. I had bought into the pink ribbon narrative, hook, line, and sinker. I am embarrassed to look back at some of the things I wrote back then. and how naive I was at the time.
Boy, have my eyes been opened. I’ve lost so many precious friends to this disease – Scorchy, Catherine, Karen, Rachel – I’ll never stop missing you. As the young folks say these days, I’ve been well and truly “woke” to the reality of breast cancer.
And now onto blogging. Writing this blog and linking into a community of like-minded bloggers has been the single most empowering thing that I have done to come to terms with cancer. It has enriched my experience, brought new friendships into my life and expanded my horizons like nothing else. Sometimes the very act of writing our story and having it heard and acknowledged can go a long way towards healing our wounded selves; to quote Riva Greenberg: “we heal a bit every time we are heard, seen and cared for”. Blogging in a community we bear witness to our own life and to others; we find strength and solace for the journey.
Pat Schneider in her book Writing Alone and with Others observed:
When we write, we create, and when we offer our creation to one another, we close the wound of loneliness, and may participate in healing the broken world. Our words, our truth, our imagining, our dreaming, may be the best gifts we have to give.
The truth is I ran out of things to say on this blog a long time ago. I rarely write anything original these days. This space has changed for me. I am far more interested in what you have to say, than anything I might want to. The weekly round-up is the real reason why I keep this going. I want to be able to encourage new voices to be heard in the blogosphere. I’m lucky to still have a high readership and if I can use this platform to amplify new voices then that makes me very happy indeed.
I remember what it was like to start a blog and have no-one reading it. I don’t want new bloggers to feel this way. I want them to feel there is a place here for them to be known and then to go on and build their own community. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see someone who was once new to the blogosphere grow and flourish into their own powerful and unique voice.
So with that, I want to ask you to please let me know if I have missed any new blogs in the weekly round-up. Drop me a note in the comments below. And please do let me know what blogging has meant to you. I’d love to hear what your experience has been. Do you have any challenges or questions to share? Or any encouraging words for new bloggers? Please use the comments below to share your thoughts.
I will always remember how you were so supportive and encouraging when I first started blogging and had no idea what I was doing or what would come of it. So, thank you for that.
Encouraging other blogging newbies is important to me, too, partly because of that example that you were and still are. Love the quote: “we heal a bit every time we are heard, seen and cared for”. Truth.
Thank you for all you do for this community, Marie. And btw, I’m still very much interested in what YOU have to say too.
Happy blogging and blog reading to us all!
Oh Nancy – thank you. You’ve been a wonderful support to me over the years and yes, you were definitely top of mind when I think of newbie bloggers who have gone on to do amazing things x
Oh, Marie, I still remember in 2012 feeling so all alone in New Orleans after my very ‘slam bam, thank you, mam’ BC treatment reading all of these wonderful posts you were compiling in your weekly round-up and being like a little sister looking into a sisterhood that she felt drawn to, was gaining from, but didn’t quite have the ‘something’ necessary yet to become a true part. I wasn’t ‘grown up’ quite enough (ie. I didn’t have the guts!!) to take that first step into creating my own blog right away. However, JBBC helped give me the courage and guidance so that when my special therapist and counselor, Rebecca, gave me the final nudge to start Searching for EMWA, there was a community there and someone looking to bring BC bloggers together. I wasn’t alone anymore. So grateful for you and the community that you continue to grow, nurture and curate! xoxo
JoAnn you have no idea how much your comment means to me – thank you dear one x