The stories within the story of cancer

Many of the testimonials that are out there today about cancer are straight narratives. “I was walking along minding my own business when I got hit by the cancer bus. Here’s the treatment that I had and this is what it was like. Here’s how I coped with it and here is my advice”. Of course I generalize, but there is a certain commonality of pattern. ¬†These narratives can be play an important role in helping someone walk through the cancer experience.

What I find really interesting are all of the other stories about the cancer experience. There are stories within stories. How a certain chemo nurse reminds you of your third grade teacher, the one who wouldn’t let you go to the bathroom. How much fun it is to take a glass elevator up to the chemo unit. Whole novels could be written about waiting rooms: a comparison of different styles; a commentary on the way the chairs are arranged (theatre style in rows or in squares facing each other); making new friends in the waiting room; waiting room etiquette; and so on. I’m working on a story about running into someone dressed as the grim reaper on my way to the hospital to have my stem cell transplant (true story, watch for it).

Much can be illuminated through these kind of stories. They are still about the cancer, but they reveal emotions and states of mind in a back door kind of way. It is these glimpses into people’s psyche that I find so compelling and so helpful. There is no prescription, the author just paints a picture of a moment in time.

These are the kind of works we hope to receive for the book project. The format may vary: stories, essays, poems, limericks, comics, drawings, photos – there is no limit to the possibilities. But we hope that our contributors will take a creative approach to share their experience. There are many untold stories in the world of cancer and we want to hear them.

2 thoughts on “The stories within the story of cancer

  1. Cathy L. says:

    As I was reading your blog, I found myself focusing away from the cancer theme and to my own experiences in the hospital – for myself, my parents, my partner, my friends. All of the trying to be upbeat, the time passing, the observation of others, the wondering what their stories were, the fear and anticipation, the difficulty of not knowing why, and of knowing what is happening to you or your loved one. Seems, while the particular of the diagnosis and treatment are so important, there is also a universality we all share when we sit together in the waiting room, or walk past each other in the halls of the hospital. An understanding, a questioning – again, the hopes and fears. Of course, your blog really hits on the routine and specificity of your experience as well, that many of us with acute issues may not know. There is grace in your entries. Keep it up.

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