Just over a year ago, I was sitting in my living room late one night. I was the only one awake in the house, very similar to this very moment.
I was doing research on blogs – what they were, how to start one, how much work it took, etc.
I had finished treatment for my 3rd cancer diagnosis about 3 weeks earlier and was scheduled to return to work in February. I wanted to enjoy these last few weeks at home with my baby, but also felt that I needed an outlet to express my emotions and experiences throughout my cancer journey.
So I decided to start my blog. I remember putting it off for several days, continually doing my research and second-guessing myself as to whether or not I could create good enough content to keep the interest of my readers. Everything I kept reading said to just start writing.
So that’s what I did.
I wrote a handful of posts to start with and proceeded with my blog – Smiling with Sarah.
The name actually came to me while trying to fall asleep one night. When it so easily popped into my head, I thought, “Shouldn’t it be harder than this to think of a name? It’s catchy, it’s my name – what else do I need?” Sure enough, it did catch on quickly! And luckily, the website was not already taken.
I returned to work in February and continued to write posts while learning how to make the website functional and attractive. With life pulling in many directions, I was having a hard time keeping to a set schedule of posting new content and I often thought that my blog would just sort of fizzle away if I couldn’t create something to keep the reader interested.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t put my heart and soul into writing, though, because I did. If people were going to be reading something that I wrote, it was going to be 100% genuine.
Unfortunately, I relapsed in early March 2016. One of my first thoughts after receiving this news was that I definitely needed to keep my blog going – to keep writing honestly – because this was where it was going to keep people interested.
If ever I wanted a chance to inspire folks, this was it.
If you visit my main page – www.smilingwithsarah.com – and scroll about halfway down – you’ll find my Archives. There are countless posts of emotions and experiences written within one year, chronicling every step of my journey, as well as some other stuff. I didn’t always want to be writing about bad news or negative emotions, so I threw some fun stuff in there, too!
The writing was a huge therapy for me as well. As much positive feedback as I received from those who read my posts, I was equally transformed into a more grateful, more positive person as I wrote. Yes, the situation flat out sucked, but putting my experiences into words was extremely beneficial for me.
As the months went on and we discovered that different treatments weren’t working, I sometimes found it difficult to close out my posts with something positive. I had to search very hard sometimes, but each time I clicked “Publish,” I made sure that there was something positive to be gained from the experience that I had just written about.
“If you look for the bad, you will find it. If you look for the good, you will find it.”
I often thought of that very quote while I was writing.
Throughout the year, my little family was blessed by folks who wanted to help us any way they could – through food, visits, money, prayers, cards – and we were appreciative of all of it. Between my home town and our current community, and everywhere in between, we were feelin’ the love from everyone.
And people had been reading my blog, so it did my heart good to hear that they looked forward to my next post.
A few months ago, my home town hosted a very successful spaghetti dinner in my honor; and this past Saturday, a benefit was held for me in Macomb, featuring music, food and an auction.
There are not enough words in the universe to express the gratitude for all that has been done.
Thank You a million times over is what we say, but it never quite feels like enough.
The goal of Michael and I is that we hope to, one day, be able to bless someone as much as we have been blessed.
My current health update is that my latest scan appears clear – no evidence of disease to be seen! I will return to Cleveland for check-up scans every 2-3 months and in the meantime, get back to living a normal life.
The study that I was participating in was unfortunately too hard on my body, so I have been removed per doctor recommendation. This happened a few weeks before Christmas, and I considered it a blessing – it meant that I would get to simply enjoy the holidays with family.
I hope that I continue to inspire others to smile with Sarah ~
and please know that I am blessed to have each and every one of you following my journey through life.