Writing the Journey: 'How I Am Now'
Nancy L. Seibel is a participant of Writing the Journey, LBBC's writing workshop for people affected by breast cancer. The workshop is led by experienced facilitator, author and poetry therapist Alysa Cummings, who has personally experienced breast cancer. Nancy wrote the poem below, called "How I Am Now," for the workshop. She says, "Writing about your cancer helps you to weave a coherent whole from what can feel like a series of disjointed events. As you create that whole, the experiences of diagnosis and treatment become a part of the entirety of your life, which helps you make sense of what happened and find your way forward."
LBBC is publishing Writing the Journey pieces on our blog throughout the fall.
How I Am Now
Remember, I tell my son,
I’m not “all cancer all the time.”
Let’s talk about other things now.
I want to laugh every day, I tell my friends.
Send me jokes and funny videos.
Share your favorite funny movies and TV shows.
Let’s plan our celebration, I say to my husband.
For when I’m done with treatment.
Where do you want to go?
I want to be there for Thanksgiving, I say to my sister.
If I can make the trip.
I won’t eat very much. I’ll sleep a lot.
But I still want to be there.
I know I look pretty good, I say to you.
But in truth, I am not how I was before.
I live in a haze of fatigue that lifts only partially,
For a few precious hours each day.
It’s true, but I probably won’t tell you that.
I look fit and healthy, I say to you.
But my arm doesn’t work the way it used to.
It hurts. My breast does too.
I probably won’t tell you that either.
You know that shelf where I have all the
Smiling family photos?
There’s now a picture of fear nestled amongst them.
It’s not the biggest photo.
You might not even notice it.
But I do. It will always be there.
Know that these are my truths,
Even as we speak of other things –
Our families. Our hopes. Our passions. Our work.
The cute new shoes we bought; the latest movies we’ve seen.
The turbulence of political events and nature’s wrath
And what we are doing about it.
The person who cares about those things is still here.
But someone else has crept in to join her.
Someone who has teetered on the edge of great darkness.
Someone who has allowed that darkness in.
It’s a part of me now.
It insists on recognition.
We don’t have to talk about it.
But I want you to know
The darkness comes along
As I move through the day
Accepting its gift of time
Nancy L. Seibel is 62 years old, from Catonsville, Maryland. She was diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer in 2016.