I don’t know how to feel about this issue of OutreachNC.
On the one hand, it’s a special issue. Our theme for August is “Living Healthy,” so this month we’re sharing tips on choosing the right exercise equipment courtesy of the nice folks at May Street Bicycles, River Jack Outdoor Trading Co. and RIOT (Run in Our Tribe). We’re running our first story by LuEllen Huntley, who writes with tenderness and honesty about maintaining a relationship with her mother, who presents symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia. Jennifer Webster explores sleep and dreams, but also the causes of sleep apnea, while intrepid friend-of-the-magazine Ray Linville takes us birding once again. Check out the owl photography Brady Beck contributed to that story – it’s phenomenal.
On the other hand – and for reasons that can’t be helped – it’s a tough issue. See, August marks one year since I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. If you met me on the street, you wouldn’t know that I have cancer. In fact, there are people I have worked with since February, when I started with OutreachNC, who had no idea I’m sick (and who I had to tell in person before this issue ran. That’d be a hell of a way to find out about a friend’s cancer…).
See, I’m not compelled to tell people about my diagnosis. If it comes up naturally in conversation, sure, I’m open about what I have, and I really don’t mind talking about it. By its very nature, the “I have cancer” conversation is a heavy one, though, so if it doesn’t come up, I don’t force it.
I do, however, feel it’s necessary to write about my leukemia. For one thing, I’m a writer. It’s not merely my job, but also a major part of my personality. Writing is how I process the world. I can think of few things in my life so far as monolithic and terrifying as my cancer. I’ll be processing it for a long time – or at least I hope so!
For another, I’m far from alone. I remember going to my first few oncologist appointments and looking around the waiting room. My fellow survivors, I noticed early on, came from all backgrounds and all walks of life, and were of all ages. One of them, Sherri Eder, works for the magazine’s parent company, and she was happy to share her survivor’s journey for this issue as well.
The final point I want to share is that cancer hasn’t stopped me – not yet, anyway – and that I’ll be living and thriving as long as I physically can. The way I see it, I go through what you go through – or what someone close to you has gone through – and it’s my responsibility as a writer to tell the truest story that I can. If it’s helpful, I’ve done my job.
Thank you for picking up OutreachNC, and I’ll see you in September.
– Corbie Hill