Alberta Cancer Foundation

Sharing My Journey

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I’ve been journaling since I was a kid and blogging since 1999, so when I was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer last December it seemed only natural that I would talk about it online. Writing is how I process things and, for obvious reasons, receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis requires a lot of processing. There were so many questions and not a lot of answers. What did this mean for me? How long was I going to be here? What about my three young daughters or my husband? I was terrified. I still am.

So I turned to writing about it and documenting what I was going through. I also started taking photos of myself with my daughters. I have so few photos of me and my mom because my family is the kind that runs away from the camera. They believe they never look good enough, they feel they need to lose weight, or their hair isn’t right. I decided when I got sick, before we even knew what was wrong with me, that I had to start putting myself in the picture before it was too late. The support I have received for doing so has been amazing. I often have women contacting me to thank me for my openness. The metastatic breast cancer community is still largely overlooked. I certainly knew nothing about it before I was diagnosed. And so I write to process, and to help other women process what they are going through.

I understand that not everyone wants to talk about their cancer; even the writer Nora Ephron – to whom almost nothing about her life was sacred – didn’t tell anyone about her cancer until the very end. However, I want my daughters to remember me when I’m gone. I want photos of us together smiling even though I felt, and often looked, awful. Because if I don’t do these things now, I may never get the opportunity.

Melanie Masterson lives in Calgary and shares her story on her blog at www.meli-mello.com. You can also find her on Twitter @meli_mello and Instagram @meli_mello1.