- Kathryn Lee Martin
The Longest Road
I haven’t posted anything in a while but today I want to address a topic that is close to my heart—finding the will to write when you have a family member going through cancer. As many of you already might have heard by now, I have a mother with stage three breast cancer and just this past week we got news no family ever wants to hear. After two years of remission, it came back. The last few weeks have been filled with PET scans, biopsies, lots of fear and worry as we waited for the results. And unfortunately, we got the results we were hoping not to get, it’s back.
Where does this put me as a writer? It’s complicated, extremely complicated. Between chemo treatments once a week and taking care of mom after she goes through them, finding time to write is going to be difficult. I can’t say though that I haven’t written novels before while going through this hellish nightmare. I somehow managed to write Garden of Ashes in its entirety shortly after mom was first diagnosed with cancer the first time. To this day, I’m still not entirely certain how I managed it. Those were some tough days because what they don’t tell you about chemotherapy is that it makes the caregivers just as tired as the patient themselves. It’s a level of tired I cannot even describe unless you’ve been there. If you have been there, I’m deeply sorry you had to go through it. It’s not fun by any means and drains you to the point where you literally are falling asleep at your keyboard.
Cancer steals so much from people. It takes your time, will, motivation, sense of comfort, finances, and so very much more. They don’t tell you this stuff up front. But what it can’t steal is your hope. It can rattle it, that is a given, but it can’t fully steal it. Because deep down, you still have a shred of it, even if you can’t feel it anymore. It’s there. Just hidden. My family is a family of faith, so we turn to God to handle things like this. It takes some of the burden off of us and shifts it to Him for the time being. Having been through this before, I expect much of the same to happen this round with praying and hoping for the best outcome we can possibly get. We're strong people. We'll get through this. This time will be slightly different though on the fact that I’m now a debut author about to be published. This means balancing everything in a careful balancing act. It’s doable because writing is my therapy. I need to write through this whole ordeal. It’s just something I must do to keep my sanity. So I’ll be writing Stars Over Zephyr while editing The Bone Roses and Garden of Ashes. Stars will be my second book written while dealing with that beast known as cancer in my family.
It’ll be another round of staying up later and getting up before the sun rises just to sneak in a few hours of writing time. It’ll be sitting in a cancer ward with a notebook, trying to write while waiting for her treatments to be finished. It’ll be trying to not let cancer steal your joy when setbacks happen and appointments come up. It’ll be moving things around because when cancer comes to your family, everything revolves around it.
Writing is hard. With cancer in the family, even harder. But all you can really do is try to focus on the story and why you started writing in the first place. When you feel like giving up, dig deep into your soul and remind yourself why you started in the first place. Find that reason to write. Some days you won’t want to. You just won’t have the energy to do anything and that is okay. Because it’s normal to be tired and unable to write when you’re dealing with something like cancer, or any illness for that matter. Don’t let it stop you altogether though.
Never give up on your dream. Keep writing. I write for my family. Because there is some small hope in seeing a book written to get out there for the readers. Because even when I’m falling apart inside, just sitting down to write a story means that there is still some sense of ‘normal’ in this nightmare. Something for me to grab onto. Something cancer has not yet stolen from me. So if you’re out there reading this and going through this nightmare on your own frightening journey, know that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to rest and recharge. It’s okay to not feel like writing. Just don’t give up though. Don’t let whatever illness or situation you’re in stop you from doing what you do best, write.
Channel that pain and worry into words. Strong words to help carry you through this. Because you will get through this. It might not be the easiest journey and there will be storms of unprecedented strength raging all around you, but you are stronger than the cancer or illnesses ever will be. You’re something special and you have a story to tell the world. So pick up that pen and put your pain into words. And as you go on your own journey, God bless you and be with you through it all because even in the darkest night, there will be a dawn. The sun will rise again and with every hope in my heart its light will once again reach you wherever you are on your journey. Keep writing, dear friends, and never let your hope be stolen.