Seven words kick-started my writing career. “It’s not good, kiddo, you’ve got cancer.” That was almost 5 years ago when the doctor showed up on my doorstep in scrubs, straight from work.
It was 5 years ago that I started taking writing seriously.
I had two types of breast cancer.
I was 34 years old when I was diagnosed and had been contemplating what I wanted to do for at least the prior 5 years before. I found myself getting caught up on technicalities or writing: finding and making time to write, questioning my quality of writing; wanting to do a blog but not sure the proper name to give it… then being afraid that I would look stupid juxtaposed to those amazing other blogs.
The list of excuses goes on. I won’t bore you with them.
But, the biggest fear I always had was that if I did the “thing” I was supposed to do with my life, then I would die sooner. My clouded thinking kept me from writing.
Sure, I was a closet writer. There was nothing that could keep me from writing. It was the sharing of my writing that was shoved to the black hole of the closet.
But hearing that I had cancer solidified one fact for me: if I don’t start sharing my writing I may die before I get to do the thing I most wanted to do with this life.
It’s true, prior to my cancer experience I had a national magazine that paid me for an article but never actually published it. The letter that read “Dear Author,” was enough to satisfy me for a while. But, somewhere inside I just knew I wanted to do more with my writing. Once wasn’t good enough for me anymore. And besides, only the editors got to read it so in some ways that just didn’t count.
It was time to put myself out there. It was time to write and share it. The desire of my heart was sent to heaven and blessings poured down.
Blessings Pouring Down
Once I decided what I wanted to do, my eyes were open to opportunities. After voicing my desire to write, the cancer center asked me to write an article for the monthly newsletter. And since writing workshops encouraged giving of your talents to start building portfolios, it was a no brainer for me.
Though, let’s be honest here, a big portion of me wanted to be paid for my effort. I mean, really, I knew the time I put into my writing. And who doesn’t want a paycheck? After a little internal debate I took on my first free job.
After one article the cancer center told me I needed to write bigger. They told me I needed to expand myself beyond a simple newsletter that would reach a handful of people. I needed to get my words on bigger paper.
This one free newsletter act landed me speaking assignments and it gave me even bigger opportunities.
Soon, the doors started opening. A national cancer magazine, Conquer, contacted the cancer center looking for stories. The editor called me and asked me to write for her. I even got brave and asked if they could pay me a little something for my time (yikes, scary). Though most of the articles were donations she agreed to pay me for mine.
I worked hard on that article. It was my first real debut afterall. I mean the first one that people besides the editors would read.
After Conquer received my article she called me asking if I was a “professional writer or something”. Booh-yah!
“No. I’m just a girl with a passion for writing.” I am still just processing her words. Wow. Biggest payday ever.
“Did you take some writing classes?” she asked. She had some professional writing background and taught writing classes at a university.
I was a little embarrassed as I had to answer, “No. Just the basics in college. My degree is in nutrition.”
“Well, keep writing. You have a way with words.”
I don’t tell you this to brag. No way. I tell you this because I don’t want you to doubt your abilities. Your passion will be the vehicle to your success. I had no training in writing just a deep love for it. Doors will open in unlikely spots if you put yourself out there. Take advantage of every opportunity to share your passion. Other doors will open.
CANCER STRIKES AGAIN
So. My brave meter started rising. I decided to do that blog I had been thinking about (and overthinking about).
Soon after I decided to follow through with putting together my blog. I stopped worrying about picking the best name out there and just did it. I just plain started to write and publish my writing. I was so scared putting my 1st post out there but soon 1 post turned into over 100 posts and I was doing what I was meant to do. I was asked to join the Thinking Through Our Fingers blog and have been writing for them for a few years.
And somewhere in the middle of all of that cancer struck again.
Just 18 months after finishing chemo, radiation, and surgeries I was diagnosed again with cancer: metastatic breast cancer. It’s stage 4 cancer, which is incurable. It spread to my ribs, my backbone, my right hip, my right arm. The spots were small and they felt it was manageable. Not curable, just manageable.
The last 2 years I have been fighting stage 4 cancer. It has since spread to every vertebrae on my back, my liver, my lungs, my spleen. I don’t tell you this to make you feel bad for me. Absolutely not. I tell you this to let you know that there comes some sort of emotional healing when I write. That the pains of my condition are weakened because I can write. Feeding passions heals heartache and brings power into your life.
And that life is precious. Don’t waste time on wishing you could do the things that you wanted to do. Chase your dreams. Make them happen.
My trials gave sustenance to my writing.
I’m glad that the doctor showed up on my doorstep 5 years ago. I’m glad I’ve been able to walk through this cancer journey so I could write. My heart is full of joy from following my desire to write all along while my body is filling up with cancer. I’m glad I took that chance 5 years ago. It has gotten me through my hard times with cancer. Writing has been the healing medication to my soul.
I did only one simple thing: I decided I was going to write. And how it has filled that hole in my life. How it has enriched and blessed my life.
So if I have just one word of wisdom to pass along it is this: Decide to follow your heart, then get to work. Write. And take advantage of those free writing opportunities, you never know where it will lead.
Today I have written my last blog post for TTOF. I want to thank you for your amazing support and opportunity I have had to share my writing journeys with you. There is a time and season for all things. It has been my blessing to be able to have this season with you. But, the time has come for me to focus on my family and maybe do a little writing through my personal blog as I feel necessary.
Thank you for sharing and commenting and keeping me afloat in my writing journey. What a blessing all of you have been to me. May your writing journeys explode your heart and fill you with the joy as I have found in simply thinking through my fingers.
Have a wonderful day… that’s my plan.
Christie Perkins is a survivor of boy humor, chemo, and faulty recipes. She loves freelance writing, blogging, and is a nonfiction junkie. Her stage 4 cancer doesn’t knock down her passion for life and writing. Not a chance. A couple of magazines have published her work but her biggest paycheck is her incredible family. Christie hates spiders, the dark, and Shepherd’s Pie. Bleh. Mood boosters: white daisies, playing basketball, and peanut butter M&M’s. You can find out more about her on her blog at howperkyworks.com.