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Tonight I went for a long walk with a friend of mine, whose son has just received a cancer diagnosis. He is in his early twenties and has an inoperable brain tumour. It’s difficult for me even to type this, and even harder to contemplate how the family must be feeling.

Cancer is big and ugly and overwhelming, even for those indirectly affected by it. My friend needed to do normal things, to talk about normal things, even for just an hour. Mixed in with the normal we did talk about her son’s diagnosis, the treatment plan, what the doctors are saying, what they aren’t saying, next steps, how on earth to cope. I felt powerless to say or do anything that would ease her pain but really, she wasn’t looking to me to do that. She just wanted to go for a walk and feel the sunshine on her face. We did that and it felt good.

We were standing in her driveway after our long walk, watching her dogs pant and look up at us with grateful grins for taking them along. I asked her if she ever found comfort in writing things down, in writing about her feelings, her fears, her hopes, her dreams. She said she did when she was younger but just recently her son had mentioned he wanted to start writing things down, to process what he is hearing, seeing and feeling in the middle of this diagnosis. I raced into my house and grabbed a journal for him, and a pen, so grateful to be able to do something tangible. I chose this one by Knock Knock:

gonna be okay

From Chapters.ca: Use this Inner Truth It’s Gonna Be Okay Journal to reassure yourself when you’re overwhelmed by the creeping sense of impending disaster and the all-encompassong fears both specified and vague that colonize your mind, body, and soul, all of which, from the completely far-fetched to the sometimes probable, do you no good to contemplate and in fact make you miserable, and even though optimism may be unself-aware and ill-placed, you know you’ll be happier as a blind fool than as a clairvoyant apocalyptic.

I didn’t want to make light of his situation but I also wanted to reassure him that we all feel overwhelmed and scared sometimes, and he has more reason than most to feel that way right now, but there is a way through the darkness, and he will find it. I told him to write in it when he felt like it and throw it against the wall when he felt like it. His mother joked that he might throw it at her but we agreed he was not allowed to throw it at someone – but he could write pages and pages about how he might want to throw it at someone!

I did some googling and found three links that support journaling with a cancer diagnosis:

http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/cancernet-feature-articles/finding-comfort-through-journaling

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-nadel/cancer-journal_b_2612961.html

http://nancyspoint.com/twelve-tips-to-journal-your-way-through-cancer-or-anything/

I believe in the power of positive thinking and the power of words to heal. Making a chronicle of a journey such as this can help in sustaining you on that journey when the going gets tough. Just like Winston Churchill said:

If you are going through hell, keep going.

It’s gonna be okay. Even if it isn’t.