When a person is diagnosed when a serious or chronic illness, his or her identity shifts from that of a person with responsibilities, goals and wishes to being a patient, at the mercy of the illness and at the command of medical personnel. Family and friends may not know how to help and may react by either smothering the person facing the illness with sympathy and well-meaning suggestions or turning off when their loved one needs to talk about their feelings about their disease. Whether the diagnosis is mesothelioma, COPD, breast cancer or fibromylagia, writing can help an individual deal with daily emotions such as fear, helplessness and uncertainty about the future.
Being told that one has a chronic or possibly terminal illness is shocking and results in emotions such as fear, denial and anger. These emotions are real and valid and can be overwhelming and frightening to family members and even healthcare providers. Medical doctors may have little training in dealing with the emotions of their patients. Support groups can be helpful but can also reinforce the notion of being a victim of the disease, and constant talk about symptoms and treatment can increase depression in the sick person. Writing allows the newly diagnosed person to express all their angry, fearful and shocking feelings without reservation or concern about how other people will react.
Treatment for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, prostate cancer or mesothelioma can be painful and exhausting. It can be hard for the ill person to talk about details of their treatment with family members and friends. Writing gives the person in treatment an outlet to say how they feel about their treatment regimen without fear of upsetting a loved one.
Hope for a future can be hard to hold onto when one has been told that he or she has a life-altering or life-threatening illness. Doctors and other medical professionals focus on their job of working on the body. A person with a disease assists in that job by going to appointments for treatment, taking medications as directed and making lifestyle changes to aid in fighting the disease. The person with the disease has a power that those working around them don't have; however, that power is the power to change their state of mind by thinking positively about the future.
Seeing one's self as well, whole and living the future that was planned for before illness struck may be what carries a person through treatment and into recovery. Writing exercises that start with "I am healthy and happy" instead of "I wish I was healthy" might be the key to making health and happiness a reality. Focusing on seeing one's self walking on the beach without pain or shortness of breath or hearing the doctor stating that the cancer is in remission and feeling the scenario to be a reality can give a person the motivation needed to fight through a serious illness. Writing these scenarios as if they were fact helps make them concrete in one's mind.
Sharing such writings during and post illness can be done easily and anonymously with a free blog through services such as Blogspot and Tumblr. Start utilizing external sources and write down your feelings and motivate yourself to start focusing on living the healthy lifestyle you once had in the past. Don’t let cancer succumb your dreams and get on the road to recovery through writing!
By: Melanie Bowen, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance