March 26, 2013

All about cancer and writing.

I love getting emails from readers and have recently received lots of emails about becoming an author, publishing, and writing about cancer.  This is a favorite subject of mine.  Yet, instead of crafting a new post on young adult cancer and writing, I decided to scavenge the archives of my blog and share a round up of my previous posts on the subject so you can reference them all in one place.  Happy reading (and writing).

Does making art help you deal with illness?

Has poetry helped?

Addicted to your illness?

The importance of writing for yourself.

How to start writing about your cancer?

Should you write a cancer book?  #1: Self-publishing

Should you write a cancer book? #2: Writing mentors

Should you write a cancer book? #3: A tale of two publishers

 

Kairol Rosenthal is the author of Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

 

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March 12, 2013

Moving beyond cancer brain fog.

I wrote an article for the New York Times about cancer and brain fog.  It was really helpful to out myself as someone who is, at times, incredibly insecure about her mental and intellectual capacities post-cancer treatment.  It blew me away to read the comments section and see that I was not alone in adjusting to post-cancer brain fog.

Many cancer patients have confessed to me a desire to go back to school, but a fear that their scrambled brains cannot handle it.  I get it.  So I recently decided to risk fumbling through a college course in the privacy of my own home via a MOOC (massive open line course).  I took a free online class called Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health.  The class was offered by Johns Hopkins University through coursera.  Propped up in bed at 11 pm, I geeked out on food growth and distribution graphs, and became curious about topics I had never thought of before: How does the growth of biofuel crops impact feeding the hungry?

It felt so good to be using my brain, taking notes, forming hypotheses, and learning new information.  Here are a list of places where you can do the same and see how it feels on your cancer brain.  Note that the course selections can feel limited, and just like any other class they are only as good as the teacher teaching them:

Coursera

Udacity

Edx

For more on chemo brain and cancer brain fog, check out Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

 

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March 05, 2013

The importance of writing for yourself.

 

 

 

I did not have a public blog until after I was done with treatment and had already written the entire manuscript for my book.  I have a lot of grim and foul thoughts about cancer and its impact on my life.  These thoughts are not on this blog.  They are in 12 spiral bound notebooks in a big storage box in my closet.  And I intend for them to stay there.

When I was going through treatment I never thought about journaling as a task.  The word alone conjures images of haggard ladies sitting around a  new age bookstore with purple notepads on their laps scribbling experiences that I’d rather not know about.  So, no, I did not journal.  I just spewed thoughts on the page at all times of day or night.  My notebooks did not contain full sentences, fleshed out ideas, nor a sense of composition. Most of my handwriting was illegible.  I was just trying to survive and my instinct was to put words on the page.

I love being a blogger and an author and using the screen and page to share ideas, resources, personal experiences, and coping tricks and tips with other young adult cancer patients.  But the best advice I have for any cancer patient wanting to write is to have a separate writing space where you don’t have to think logically, where no audience is present, and you can let the shit hit the fan in whatever way it wants to.  In a culture where the need to share via twitter and facebook is often a compulsion, it is quite peaceful writing for nobody but yourself.

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