Just about everything I’ve read about dealing with breast cancer contains the suggestion of keeping a journal. I personally balked at this idea because I didn’t want to remember all of the details of the day-to-day occurrences that I would be facing. The more I thought about it, I guess it didn’t appeal to me because when I was younger, I kept a diary and my brother took it upon himself to break into it and share the information with all of his buddies – and my friends and family. As a result, I think I made a conscious decision at that time to never write down my personal thoughts and experiences ever again because I didn’t want for them to be shared with others – period. They were my experiences. This was my life so how could that be of any benefit to anyone else.
“Your choice to journal or not to journal is just as individual as everything else about you so there is no wrong decision to be made. Just do what works for you and never look back.”Barbara Jacoby
However, I know that my reasons for not keeping a journal is not valid for others. Most people want to keep a journal because it not only makes it easier to get one’s feelings out when forced to organize them in writing but also it serves as a reminder of information received from different sources that will be needed in various steps in their treatment. Many others choose this method to keep track of all of their doctors’ appointments, treatments, surgeries and other meetings such as those with support groups. Some use a journal for jotting down thoughts that come to mind as they reflect on the day they just had and how it affected their thinking and point of view.
One of the other main purposes I have heard about for keeping a journal is to leave behind a history of a person’s journey for family members, in particular for those that have small children. When the children become old enough, they are able to understand what their parent has experienced and perhaps have an idea of how that parent was motivated in her/his cancer fight because of the importance that the children have/had in their life. There isn’t a parent that I know who doesn’t want to be around to see their children grow up, to be there at landmark events such as graduations and weddings and to be able to have time with their own grandchildren. But, if for any reason they are not able to do so, they have left a legacy that is far beyond any other treasure that they could have imagined.
Then there are the journals that ultimately become books that people choose to publish. These books chronicle a patient’s journey to help others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to see a bit of what they, too, might expect. They can be a source of inspiration that help others through the toughest times when a glimmer of hope for a better future is hard to find. They help others to know that they are not alone and that there are others who have traveled a similar path. And often, they help provide answers to problems that the reader has not experienced before and will help them with their own personal decisions.
But should you choose to do as I did and not write down a single thing about your experience, please know that such a choice is just fine. I kept a calendar of my appointments just so that I didn’t miss any of them and showed up when and where I was directed. The rest of my time was spent focusing on my job and enjoying my free time as I had in the past. I do not have children so my consideration of what I did and how I did it was in the present with regard to my husband and how we were both getting through this new “adventure” in our lives. Your choice to journal or not to journal is just as individual as everything else about you so there is no wrong decision to be made. Just do what works for you and never look back. I know that I wouldn’t have changed my choice, even as I look at it in retrospect.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.