Nikki felt traumatised by her diagnosis, but found that writing a blog helped her cope and find support.
My treatment was intense
A year after my diagnosis, I started writing a blog, Life After Lola. My treatment plan was quite intense and I thought, ‘If I survive all of this, it will make a good story of hope for others.’
After my treatment was finished I needed to move on. For me, writing was part of this process. I had so many emotions which felt so tangled that I needed to put them somewhere. Where better than on a blog where I could share these feelings? If I could write about my thoughts I could understand them and gain perspective over time.
I wanted to support others like me
As I look back on the emotions I went through at the time of my diagnosis, through treatment and post-treatment, I realise I’m healing mentally. Throughout my treatment I kept a log of all of my side effects and lists of what I found helpful. It seemed a shame to lose this knowledge, knowing there would be others just like me appearing on the Forum, ‘newly diagnosed’.
Once you commit your feelings to writing and share them it really is magical, because you realise we all have shared experiences. You need someone to be the first to open up to pave the way for others to do the same and say, ‘Yes, I felt exactly like this too.’ And so the dialogue begins!
Cancer isolated me from ‘normal’ life
After my diagnosis, my feelings were quite intense and overwhelming. I felt that my cancer diagnosis isolated me from those around me in my ‘normal’ life, and through my writing I have been able to connect with others. My blog has been viewed all over the world and it puts a smile on my face knowing that even when I’m asleep, my blog is out there in the cloud, supporting others.
I found being diagnosed with breast cancer to be such a traumatic experience that I just couldn’t leave others to face this alone. I’d like to acknowledge others I’ve chatted with in the community who have shared their knowledge to enable me to also pass on the baton.
Nikki’s five tips for writing about breast cancer
1. Dump those negative emotions
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, write it all down. Have a good rant on paper or on the Forum (we understand the unfairness of it all). Write about what hurts and why. You can revisit these when you’re feeling better, maybe see a new perspective and develop coping strategies and throw the bad thoughts away.
2. Find something that comforts you
Make a note of things which pick you back up again and have these as your ‘go-to’ when you’re feeling low. It could be a nice warm bath with essential oils, music, films or inspirational books, blogs or quotes.
3. Organise your thoughts
Keep a notepad to take to your appointments. Write down any concerns to discuss with your medical team (no matter how ridiculous they seem, they’ve usually heard it all before). This helps to ensure you don’t forget anything, reduces your anxiety and makes the appointment time more efficient.
4. Write about your side effects
Keep a diary of side effects from treatment so you become familiar with what to expect and what helped. If you are on chemotherapy you will be able to see patterns emerging and will be able to start managing side effects more proactively.
5. Dare to dream
It’s hard to dream of a positive future after a diagnosis, but it helps if you keep a rolling plan of just five things you would like to do in the year ahead. Perhaps smaller things in the next week or month like a nice local walk, a day out in a lakeside or riverside town, and maybe a mini break and a holiday for after treatment has finished. You don’t need to commit financially until nearer the time, but keep those dreams on your horizon and keep enjoying the smaller things in the meantime. I kept a diary of the fun days and took lots of photographs to remind myself I was still enjoying life despite having to jump through treatment hoops.