I feel like I might as well be upfront with you and tell you that I am not a “real writer”. I am just a girl who started blogging about her Leukemia journey and can’t seem to stop.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (read: “abrupt and devastating interruption to life as you know it”). I spent 70 days in the hospital over the next 7 months. After the first week, my husband started a blog site so we could update people on my status. As I began feeling better, but still confined to the hospital room for 6 days at a time for chemo, my blog became cathartic in getting outside of my head. I started to share my fears, struggles, inspirations, and spiritual observations with those who read. I told on myself about the raw, messy, embarrassing and often ugly thoughts and feelings I had about what was happening to me and why.
Eventually I was even able to find ways to be grateful for what my disease had triggered in me and in my life. My blog went from updating people on the health and healing of my body to reflections on the health and healing of my soul.
What surprised me was that even though I was often sharing about my own disease and what I was learning from the experience, other people seemed to relate and be encouraged by what I wrote. Like I said, I didn’t see myself as a writer (I had never written anything in my previous, pre-cancer life, nor did I want to), so this confused me. But my writing itself was not what was inspiring them. It was the connection they felt to someone who made them feel like they were not alone in their pain, their struggle; their weirdness, if you will.
I write a lot about cancer, addiction, and diseases of the soul. Diseases like worry, fear, control, comparison, resentment, just to name a few. Apparently, I am not the only one who has them. I used to worry that when my cancer went into remission, my writing would go into remission with it. But since the diseases of the soul, the “common plagues of the heart” as I call them, are chronic, it seems I will never run out of material.
Even though I write about a variety of topics, there is one theme that presents itself in every single entry; ME. My Soul. I write about what I observe, struggle with, screw up, celebrate, and grieve. I talk about what I believe in with all my heart, what I wish I could believe, and what I am completely confounded and confused by. I touch on territory in my soul that I have come to find out also exists in yours.
I love when I hear from someone who identifies with my craziness. Because that’s the beauty of it. We are not alone in our hurt, our failures, our passions and our longing to be better than we are today. We’re not the only ones. What a relief.
When talking with my sister-in-law a few months ago, she said “it’s like God used cancer to root out a cancer in you that has nothing to do with cancer.” Ooohhh, that’s good (she’s much more deep and well-spoken then me). Yep. God went to town on my soul. And unfortunately, or fortunately, I think He’s got His work cut out for Him. I don’t see any end in sight, but I do see progress. And honestly, that’s probably the most one can hope for in this life.
So, why Soul-Selfie? Because I have wasted way too much time looking outward. Taking pictures of other people’s behavior and either judging it or trying to imitate it. Cancer and writing have been my cues to tap on that little icon on my “I”-phone camera and flip the focus back on myself.
Instead of focusing on you, I have to look at me. But as I take my Soul-Selfies and share them with you, maybe we can be broken and vulnerable together. We can remind ourselves that there is always hope and we are all in this together.