Today on my weekly Writing Wednesday Blog I am honored to share the words of Virgil Anderson. His choice to see the good, even in tough situations, is one I admire, and wish was more readily found in our world.
Today, I ask you to reflect on your own experiences, and then write about them. Today, I ask you to write, not because the world needs your words, but maybe, because you do. Today, I invite you to sit back, relax and read the wisdom of a fellow writer.
I was diagnosed with mesothelioma a couple of years ago, and the journey has been one of disbelief, anguish, struggle, and finally acceptance. I developed this terrible cancer only because I was exposed to asbestos on the job. In addition to coming to terms with fighting cancer, I had to live with the fact that it all seemed so unfair. What has helped me so much on this journey has been my family, but also my writing.
My Cancer Story
I grew up in a great family and town, but we weren’t financially well-off. I had to start working at a young age. In high school my first job was back-breaking demolition work. I was young and strong, though, and I didn’t mind it. After high school I worked with cars, again doing physical work like tearing out old hood liners. Later I learned the skills needed to be a mechanic and really enjoyed that work too.
What I was unaware of as I did those jobs to earn a living was that I was surrounded by asbestos. It was in the old buildings I helped to tear down and in the liners, brakes, and clutches of all the cars I worked on. I was frequently surrounded by clouds of dust that contained asbestos fibers. Inhaling those fibers led to the damage in my lungs and surrounding tissue that ultimately led to a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma. I was diagnosed at the age of 50 and I didn’t even know what mesothelioma was. I soon found out, and I also began to deteriorate quickly. I was once active and fit and now I can barely walk short distances without assistance. I have been able to get support and assistance from the National Cancer Institute, and my family has been an invaluable support system. But what I never expected to help me so much
has been writing.
Writing and Telling My Story
I was never a writer. I was a blue collar worker, but when I got sick and learned more about my illness it motivated me to try to help warn and protect others. Asbestos is still out there in so many places, and there are a lot of workers vulnerable to being harmed by it. I began writing to tell my story, to share my experiences as far and wide as I could. I did it as an obligation to help others, but soon enough I found that it really helped me.
The process of writing has helped me to focus my thoughts and to devote my energy to something positive, which feels good. Each day has become a struggle living with this cancer, but writing gives me something to look forward to and a purpose. It is a personal process but it is also something that I feel driven to do, that makes me still feel useful as I share my story to support and protect others.
Another great benefit I have seen from my writing is all the positive feedback and support. By sharing my writing I have gotten responses from people around the world. There are people going through similar experiences, who have loved ones with cancer, or just people touched by my story who want to give me a boost. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that so many people care and are moved by what I have to say and by my journey.
Writing can’t turn back the clock or change my cancer diagnosis. But, what it can do and what it has done is to give me a purpose and a way to reflect and process my situation. This has been invaluable, and second in importance only to my family and the love and support they have given me along the way. I will continue to write and I will continue to share for both my own benefit and to connect with others.
I am so grateful to Virgil for stopping by my blog today and sharing his story. I wish him many wonderful days, as well as the words to record those memories. Thank you Virgil.
If you would like to get started on your word journey... if you want your words to help you heal... if you have a story inside of you that needs to get out... I'm inviting you to join my writing community. In an experience I call Story Seedlings participants will engage in a month of story prompts, constructive feedback, and all sorts of word nerd fun. It starts January first, and I'd love to have you join us. Learn more by clicking here.
Until next time word nerds, happy writing, happy holidays and happy healing.