So I’m here in Ottawa after the big snow storm of last week, looking out the window and thinking I’m just going to write what’s going on, not construct this post around a particular theme. Stuff has happened the past few weeks. Stuff that isn’t about facing cancer, but rather about facing life – good stuff, hard stuff, get-going kinda stuff.
(The postman has just arrived and I can see him through my window. He has a moustache! Well, some ladies love the lip hair.)
Way back before I was diagnosed, my husband and I were thinking about trying to have kids. (I’ve already gone on about that topic, so no – this isn’t about fertility. Not today at least.) To get ready for this I started writing a novel that looked at life-changing moments during pregnancy for nine generations of women. But then we had to wait on pregnancy after I was diagnosed.
And, as you know might know (?), it can be hard to write during chemotherapy. At least, it’s hard to write about anything else other than the battle. (Of course, I was still writing, but more about Bumpyboobs than the heroic journey.) But I bet you can understand that, because it’s hard to think of anything else during cancer treatment. Cancer & chemo just start doing some obnoxious dance in the middle of your mind – shaking their butts, moon-walking back and forth, doing the twist . . . it’s hard to focus beyond that all-encompassing experience.
But after treatment, I made it my mission to get the groove back and start writing creatively again. It was difficult at times, but I persevered. (With dry spells occasionally, cause I’m human and watch too much television.) So, 2.5 years after starting I’ve finally finished a polished first draft. A draft good enough to send to agents. (Yes! Air Punch!)
You know what I do when writing? It’s not practical, but it is a lot like life; I don’t plan out my story. It just comes, and it twists and turns, and the endings surprise me. The writing is more about the journey. Of course, it’s also about the finished product – but that’s a result of the journey. The characters become more real the more I throw at them. Maybe we’re the same in our non-fiction lives? Maybe we become more real the more life throws at us?
Anyhow, that book is now at the end of its first-draft journey, and I wanted to let you know because this is something that’s totally not about cancer. This is something that cancer tried to stop (or at least, the side-effects and emotional roller coaster made impossible for me, plus the blow of not being able to try to get pregnant and all that other fertility stuff). This story was something that I had to reclaim, reinvent, and came to love even more as a result.
Do you have something like that? A life away from cancer that you’ve had to fight for? Maybe it’s your family, or your passion, or your work . . .
Now I need to find an agent :) That’s the next hurdle.
So that’s been on my mind.
Another thing in facing life, a big thing, is that three weeks ago my husband parted ways with his workplace. It was inevitable. For more about that, you can read my totally fictional fairytale and infer the details for yourself. Anyhow, now we’re reconstructing once again.
It’s okay. While that job wasn’t the right environment for Zsolt, he did gain some awesome patent-related skills. And with a shock like he had, we’re reminded to prioritize our values before all else. It’s not a horrible time whatsoever - it’s exciting and full of potential. For some reason, I’m not worried about his career.
(Of course, I was quietly freaking-out three weeks ago, sick with worry. But then I thought, "Hey, Catherine, you and your man are healthy, warm and fed. YOU GUYS ARE A-OKAY." And he’s out of a bad situation. It’s all good.)
I don’t know how the story ends. God, there have already been happily-ever-afters, unexpected twists, startling revelations, etc. But that’s okay, because that’s part of the experience.
I asked it before, but I’ll ask it again. Was there anything that a cancer-diagnosis pulled you away from in your life? Do you think you’ll return to that passion/love/hobby/job, or move on to another pasture? I would LOVE to hear your stories, so please don’t be shy to share.
Till next time :)
**OH and best of luck to our fellow Facing Cancer Together ladies, Terri, Katie and Alex. They are off to India to volunteer for Terri's foundation, A Fresh Chapter Alliance, and have a life-enhancing adventure. I cannot wait to read those posts!