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Michele Longabaugh is a wife, a mother of three children, a registered nurse and a small business owner in the Midwest. In February 2010, she was diagnosed with stage IV anal cancer. She hopes to shatter the stigma and fight the loneliness that accompanies this devastating type of cancer. Follow her on Twitter at @CrazyAssCancer

Writing Helps Relieve Stress from Cancer Concerns

A look at how writing is a means of self expression and stress relief for a nurse who is also cancer survivor.
PUBLISHED: 2:42 PM, WED MAY 30, 2018
I will never tire of writing the story of me and my experiences as an 8 year survivor of stage IV anal cancer. A lot of my life these days is consumed with maintaining or improving my well being. I think I have something akin to PTSD only mine is caused by cancer not war. I understand that people are tired of my cancer and perhaps even my essays. I need to just "get over it" for God's sake already. Just. Shut. Up. But, for me, talking about it helps. Writing about it helps more. I need to write. Sometimes, even when I don't want to, if I sit and try I feel a sweet catharsis when I finish the struggle with diction. I don't expect that anyone understands my need to write to feel OK inside. Let me try to explain it here.

Most days I feel safe and secure. Sometimes I am petrified. Even as well as things are going right now; things could change in a second and that cough that won't go away, that pain in my side, that blood on my toilet paper, those could be my cancer coming back to lord over my days, my nights and my life.This musters up a cold sweat that words cannot explain. I don't want to go back there. Writing helps.

Most days I feel care free. Sometimes I am anxious. The cough, the pain, the blood I described above that could appear at anytime cause a hum in the background of my life and across my mind everyday. This creates anxiety occasionally. It makes others uncomfortable when I express it verbally out loud, but it needs to be said. Writing helps.

Most days I am happy. Sometimes I am sad. I have networked the hell out of social media and met many women like me in very similar situations. I witness the joys and the pain they experience as well. Many do not fair as well as I and many have passed away from this life. This stirs up survivors guilt and can create melancholy from time to time. Those around me want me to cheer up. Writing helps.

Most days I am physically able. Some days I am fatigued beyond words. I live in constant pain. I am in no way looking for pity for this. I'm in pain and that's just a fact. I do all I can to minimize it and have no interest in narcotic use. Discomfort is my norm and I can't remember what's it's like to be pain free. Some days it is a forethought to every single thing I do. Believe it or not, writing helps.

So I turn to my blog. A place I can openly and freely express my hope, my joy, and my happiness along with my fear, my anxiety, and my grief. Recovery from cancer can be a struggle that will forever be part of my life and lucky for me writing helps.

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More from Michele Longabaugh, RN
Palliative care is for the living.
PUBLISHED: Tue February 26 2019
My training as a registered nurse helped me as I developed long-distance relationships with several women who have anal cancer--I call them my “virtual sorority sisters.”
PUBLISHED: Thu October 25 2018
Cancer touches the caregiver as much as the patient, and that position comes with it's own, unique emotional tolls.
PUBLISHED: Thu March 23 2017
A survivor recalls the impact oncology nurses can have on their patients.and the "extraordinary power" of love.
PUBLISHED: Wed April 13 2016
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