Our book, Journey: Experiences with Breast Cancer is important to us for many reasons. Most importantly, it’s a book with very valuable content about a topic that we feel strongly about. But aside from that, it’s the fact that we feel that we can make a difference to readers and writers alike. Let me explain.
This realisation came to me on Friday night at the Olympic Room at the MCG. We were there for a fundraiser for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to talk about Journey to the 200 or so people who attended. I was very nervous about this because I’m not used to public speaking, especially to such a large crowd. I prepared my speech and practised it repeatedly during the day.
When it came time to talk, all the nervousness fell away because I was talking from the heart about something that is very important to me. This book really is about the strength of community and the valuable therapy that is reading and writing. I’ve long held the belief that writing is good therapy. And this was cemented for me last week when I met the award-winning author Barry Heard. Barry suffered a nervous breakdown twenty years after he had returned from the Vietnam War. His family was told to prepare for the worst, maybe within three months. His therapist asked Barry to write down his thoughts as a way to get through the days at the Heidelberg Repat Hospital. He didn’t stop writing for two years.
I asked Barry if he thinks that writing saved him. He replied, ‘without a doubt’.
So, when things gets hard, it’s worth writing things down to try to make sense of them. This is what we have with Journey. Real, raw stories that are as valuable to the writers as for those of us who read them.
These are the things that I learned from putting Journey out into the world. Always seek a second opinion; you are not alone; cancer is about living, not dying; learn to laugh at life.