Doesn’t really matter who I am except that I faced – am still dealing with – breast cancer. My journey is anyone’s journey. (But if you really want to know who I am, scroll down.)
What does matter is that when I was diagnosed, I noticed that all the magazine articles, TV ads and media discussions about cancer seem to focus almost exclusively on triumphing or surviving or beating this disease. That’s important. But that’s not all there is. There is so much we think, feel and long to say, so many raw emotions and scary, new experiences to work through, yet it seems the conversation is always redirected back to talk of wellness and putting it behind us, to pink ribbons and teddy bears, and walks/runs/relays.
We’ll get there, but in the meantime, deep down we struggle with anger, confusion, panic and other emotions that never make it into the public and that maybe even our friends and family aren’t equipped to deal with.
I kept diary, but that, too, can be lonely. So, I started this blog as a community diary, where all of us dealing with cancer are free to put into words everything we’re feeling and every experience we’re having, and where we can find what I call “our species,” people who are going through it, too, and who truly “get” what we’re feeling.
Each post has a theme, a jumping off point for sharing. But feel free to express whatever the topic brings up for you.
Confession is truly liberating; community is empowering.
I am Debra Michals, a writer, editor, teacher and activist whose mission and passion has been women’s history and women’s stories. I am married and the step-mother of two amazing young women. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 51, and while I had felt “stalked” by cancer since finding a cyst twenty years earlier, I was completely blindsided by my diagnosis. I was healthy, active and focused on my present and future at the time; in an instant, that all changed. I was no longer driving the bus; cancer was at the wheel and I was along for the ride. That lack of control was new for me, as were all the steps that followed. Today, I am finished with radiation and living my life in a whole new way, which I will share here, along with everything I did to get to this moment (and all the ways in which cancer is still with me).