Posted on April 12, 2011

Why am I writing about bumpy boobs? Because at twenty eight years old, I’m a breast cancer survivor and have been since my day of diagnosis. One boob down, there’s a lifetime to go – so let’s get on with the show. This is just an excerpt, for my full adventure click this to get reading.

Ask this: Why do you write?

Good Monday to you! Whew, what a weekend. Totally exhausting. This past weekend I attended a local writer’s workshop. It was exciting to be in a room with other writers – felt a little like camp, with the musty building smell contributing toward that atmosphere, and we’re all there to play games, learn about our writing and take home priceless memories (aka tips on finding an agent). And the opportunity to meet and chat was really helpful.

I think whether you are a cancer-survivor, writer, artist, homemaker, whatever . . . being in touch with like minds is essential. They’re the people who ‘get’ your crazy. Whether it’s worrying about reoccurrence or family life or whether the storyline works . . . being able to connect with those who understand is such a great support. Don’t you think?

So we were asked a question during this workshop: why do you write? And I thought about it  – about the project I’d been working on (not my blog, but my fiction) before the breast cancer diagnosis, which is the same project I’m coming back to now. Why, Catherine, are you writing this?

And the answer was interesting, so deeply emotional, that it nearly blew me away.

You see, I’m writing a novel (who isn’t!) that is about nine generations of women across nine months of pregnancy. Each month of pregnancy is a snap shot from one women’s life.

Originally I began to write this story because I had wanted to get pregnant. I had wanted (autumn 2010) to start trying for a baby. That was the plan between Zsolt and I, which frankly left me feeling nervous as heck. So, what to do when nervous and uncertain? Write it out. And I began this lovely story. It was like I could pull on the strength of previous women who have all been there and conquered that – and that would make everything okay once it was finally my turn. Anyhow. Why did I write it? Because it was a coping process. I was getting ready.

But then cancer happened. Chemotherapy happened. Worries of reoccurrence happened. And now I can’t have children for at least two more years, and that’s assuming my ovulation resumes – and so far, no clear signs indicate that having happened. Giving birth has become a question mark, but not becoming a mother. One way or another, I’ll become a mother eventually.

So . . . nine months later (according to my blog archive of entries) and here is the question again: Why do you write? Or better yet, Catherine, now that you’re not planning to get pregnant any time soon, why return to this story?

Here is the answer I found this past weekend: I’m writing to heal.

In a way, the women of my story are like children. I created them, and I need to take responsibility for their journey. The uncertainties of pre-cancer are still there and they still need to be addressed. But cancer or no cancer, I’m a mother to my narrative. And once day, I’ll be a mother in real life too.

Anyhow, there you go. That’s a snapshot of my life away from the big C – which funnily enough, is still effected by this past year. There’s no escaping what has happened, but at least I have my writing to see me through.