How not being a writer and still writing helped me through cancer and cancer treatment.
Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Currently, he operates his website for those affected by cancer, 2surviveonline.com and drinks a ridiculous amount of coffee per day.
"Men all do about the same thing when they wake up," John Steinbeck once wrote, but do they? Well, I'm sure Mr. Steinbeck is very much on to something with his statement.
I believe that waking up with some sort of drive – the want to achieve something – has gotten me through cancer and its effects, no doubt. I don't know how I've done it though, maybe it's how I was raised, maybe it's totally a God-thing, but somehow, I've managed to always get myself up in the morning with a sense of hope and a will to get something done. This doesn't mean I haven't struggled or that it has always been easy.
I mean, let me be clear, I haven't always waked up in the morning, stepped out of bed, heard the birds chirping and thought, "Hey, I'm going to write a lovely song today." At some of my very worst times, I can actually remember waking up and barely even being able to get out of bed. In 2012, I actually remember waking up and wanting to merely walk just a little further down the hospital hallway than I did the day before.
Somehow though, waking up in any situation and having my mind set on getting some sort of "win" has played a major part in my survival, I believe.
Yes, there are many things people can do to pass the time and to get them through, but writing quickly became that thing for me that I could do anywhere – and it's that thing that anyone can do anywhere.
I've never really even considered myself a writer. It's just something I started doing years ago. I mean come on, I make grammatical errors and misspell words, but writing has always been something I can look forward to – something that allows me to get "it" out, achieve a small "win," even on a day in "survival" mode. Maybe especially on such a day.
I can remember many times, taking my laptop to the hospital and writing from my hospital bed. There's just something about it that has always helped me. Maybe it's the fact that for an hour or so, I'm forced to limit my thinking on one topic, organize a thought and not drift off into the mysterious sea of worry and what-ifs. Or maybe it's that I'm able to get satisfaction in achieving something.
Look, you don't have to write like Shakespeare, Steinbeck or Hemingway, unless you just want to, but I do believe for many people who have been affected by cancer, writing can be a great way to get it out - not just to survive, but to win.