About my blog: I’ve written two sections for each blog post; Nurse Talk and Survivor Speak. Each post describes thoughts and perspectives I have gained over the years from working as an oncology nurse and from being a cancer patient. My desire is that these posts will be both informative and inspirational for health care professionals and cancer patients alike. It is from these experiences and hope that I have drawn to write my book Both Sides of the Bedside
Markers in time are significant, at least for me. They help us to pause, reflect, and take a look back in the rearview mirror of who we are, and what we have accomplished.
Nine months ago, I reached the 18-year mark of being a Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer survivor. I also just passed the 6-year anniversary of when my “Both Sides of the Bedside” book was published, March 17th, 2016. My heart was led to write a piece capturing the characteristics and sacrifices it took for me to write my book.
It’s funny how God plants talents into a person and over time how talents and hard work can grow a bountiful garden.
When I was going through seven months of hard-core chemotherapy, I knew that I was called to share my newfound knowledge and insight in the form of a book. But, at the time what I was really focused on was battling the beast. I would write my feelings in a journal when I felt like it but that was it. The forming of my book was happening, living life on the cancer journey, but the actual arrangement of my book didn’t happen till years later.
After I completed treatment and was healed enough to go to work again, I immersed myself into working as a pediatric oncology bone marrow transplant nurse. It was hard to be up close with cancer again, since I’d just moved past it in my own life, however I knew God had called me there to help children and their parents through their arduous cancer journeys.
Then, seven years later, it was time for me to concentrate on writing my book. It was a labor of tenacity partnered with dedication. I took an intermediate novel writing class at a university and spent many hours in a professionally-led writing group where I would receive critiques of my work from other authors. Some critiques were hard to hear, and many pages didn’t make the cut, but I was persistent in doing what I knew was mine to do-share my story.
I learned more about grammar and sentence structure. But it didn’t stop there. I took my manuscript on vacations and worked on it pretty much every holiday and all weekends. I turned down countless social activities to stay focused on my writing which was tough because characteristically I’m a very social person. Some nights, I would wake up at two or three in the morning, open up my laptop knowing I needed to get ideas out of my head and into my manuscript. I became really boring. The big portion of my days were spent in my home office or at a coffee shop writing.
I looked at my words over and over and over until I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. There were a lot more steps to this escalating process that I never knew existed. At times I cried due to frustration, but I trusted that there was a purpose in my author journey.
For five years, mostly every day, I would write and rewrite my book.
I was told that I needed to start promoting myself so I got on Twitter and created a BSB Facebook page which were both scary to me. I read other books by successful authors and was in awe of them and their writing ability. I read books on how to write a book. I became grateful for editors and proof readers.
I learned that the writer’s life is sometimes lonely.
I stepped out in faith and listened to God’s spirit within me to ask for things I thought were too big of a stretch to get. Ex. Asking one of my favorite authors, Maria Housden, if she would read my book and maybe write a review which she willingly did.
In the process, I got to piece experiences of my life together in a way I had not seen before. I got to purge emotions that perhaps were keeping me in the past. I got to see what it means to have a supportive husband, mom and dad.
Writing my book was a slow and sometime arduous process. It involved concentrating on one word at a time, rearranging and rephrasing words to make what I was trying to communicate be the most engaging to the reader. I sifted through my manuscript countless times. My book had four professional edits. The process of chiseling the body of my manuscript to become its best was like chiseling a piece of rock into eventually becoming a sculpture. It involved time, vision, and sacrifice.
When I received my manuscript in book form in the mail it was like I was holding a new baby. Elation, relief, and tears of joy flowed down my face. I literally got on my knees and thanked God. My tenacity and hard work had created something. My hope and prayer has always been, and still continues to be, that it will inspire and help others.
I’m not going to go into all the blessings and accolades I have received since becoming a published author. Please see my photo gallery and my book reviews for that. However, what I’d like you to do is to inspire you to see what good you are being called to produce in the world. With steps of faith, tenacity, and commitment I hope this article has invigorated you to give birth to your dream.
Self-care means something different to everyone, but when you’re living with an illness such as cancer, it’s important to remember that your overall wellness includes your physical and mental health. Taking steps to ensure that your body and mind are in good shape will help you feel better, and you’ll be better able to cope with stress or anxiety. Because many individuals living with cancer also deal with depression, it’s crucial to find ways to lift your spirits from day to day. Whether this means staying social with friends and loved ones or helping yourself stay relaxed by getting massages, learning how to boost your overall wellness will benefit you every day.
It’s also important to talk to your loved ones and keep communication open about your needs so that they can help you from day to day. That may mean asking them to help with household chores so you can rest, or letting them know what the best diet is for your needs so you can eat healthy meals each day. Think specifically about what will help you feel the best, and keep reading for some tips on how to get started.
In both these examples, life didn’t unfold the way these people had anticipated; however they celebrated the things that were important to them in a different way.
Make Nutrition a Priority
When you’re fighting an illness as invasive as cancer, it’s important to make sure your nutrition is on point. Eating the right foods can help you stay balanced and boost your energy, so it’s worth it to speak to a professional who can help you work out the best diet for your needs. If you have Medicare, do a little research to find out what kind of help you can get through their programs.
Look for Positive Touch
Because many types of cancer are very hard on the body, it can be helpful to introduce positive touch into your life. This means massages, hand massages, hair brushing, and any other kind of touch you’re comfortable with that will help you relax. Just be sure you read up on massage for cancer survivors, as some forms of touch could cause bruising or contribute to blood clots. You should also look for soft, comfortable clothing and bedding, especially if you’re having trouble getting good sleep at night. Sometimes certain medications can interfere with rest and can alter your body temperature, so try to stick with cool, breathable cottons.
Speaking of Sleep…
Your mind and body both need lots of rest, and there are several easy things you can do to your environment to help your sleep along each night. Painting the walls a cool, calming color, improving the air quality with a purifier, and removing devices that emit blue light — such as televisions, smartphones, and computers — can all help you relax and get a better quality of sleep. You can also use blackout curtains or blinds to keep the sun from waking you too early.
Talk to Someone
Whether you make an effort to keep communication open with your friends and loved ones about your needs or you seek out a counselor or therapist who can help you cope with your illness, it’s important to talk about what you’re going through during this time in your life. Even the smoothest treatments can be physically and emotionally difficult to go through, and you may be suffering from stress or anxiety about medical bills or other issues. Talking about your feelings and worries can help you get through a trying time a bit easier.
Living with cancer can be hard on you in many different ways, so the more you can do to focus on your well-being, the better off you’ll be. Remember that there are several things you can do to help yourself relax, and doing so will, in turn, allow you to cope a little easier. With a few small changes and some help from your loved ones, you’ll be able to make yourself a priority.