Stories by Wildfire: It’s Me Time
Before my diagnosis, I felt like I struggled to find my voice. I felt somewhat lost in the world, and while I loved to write, I had little narrative impulse that could be readily developed into a finished piece. Scrolling mindlessly on Instagram, an afternoon latte with a chocolate chip cookie, a lazy day off from work, or sleeping in despite having chores to do. So much of these compiled my self care routines in my twenties. It’s ok, I justified to myself, because it’s self care. I didn’t fully recognize how many of these behaviors were actually harmful to my well-being. A number of these behaviors carried me through the first few months after my metastatic diagnosis. Especially when you find out you’re Stage IV right before Christmas – everyone wants to send you a basket of treats. I’m just going to have these for dinner, I would think to myself. Self care.
Eventually, though, I realized that none of these actions, none of these crutches were actually tools for me to care for my very sick body. I recognized that self care meant making my regular mental health appointments, and forcing my tired, aching body downstairs to take my medications at the same time every day, even if it meant getting out of bed. Self care began to look more like green smoothies, yoga, and time outside, and less like curling up underneath the covers, hiding from the world. My so-called self care had shifted fully into the realm of guilty pleasures. Yet, they were less pleasures and more life rafts, holding me up, but doing little else. I realized that true self care meant less mindless late-night social media scrolling and more early bedtimes, more disciplined behavior in order to regain some control over my life, rather than less disciplined behavior that appeased little else than my brain’s pleasure centers. Self care became an act of saying no, rather than yes. While I would never choose my cancer diagnosis, I have found that it has propelled me to speak up in ways that I could not before my diagnosis. I prioritize my time to write, to capture snapshots of my life and process events, both big and small, that I want to memorialize. Now my writing has become a tremendous source for self care. It has always been the best medium for me to express myself, and continues to bring me joy, solace, and serve as a tremendous form of therapy and self care.
Emily Garnett, diagnosed at 32. Writer, elder law attorney, New York, NY. Metastatic breast cancer, Stage IV de novo.
This piece has been republished with permission from WILDFIRE Magazine, the 2019 “SELF CARE” issue (Vol 4, No 2, Copyright (c) April 2019 by Wildfire Community LLC). More information available at wildfirecommunity.org
Every month, Rethink will be sharing powerful stories and poetry from WILDFIRE Magazine. Use code RETHINK for 10% off anything in the WILDFIRE Shop.
WILDFIRE Magazine is the only magazine for young women survivors and fighters of breast cancer under 45 years old. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, WILDFIRE is a beautiful, story-based bi-monthly magazine published on different themes relevant to young women survivors, from stage 0 to stage IV. Beautiful and ad-free! Visit wildfirecommunity.org for more info.