Writing as Escape: Bittersweet Heartache and Cancer

June 1, 2013 | By | 5 Replies More

In 2009 I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Temeka Williams

Temeka Williams on her first day of chemotherapy.

This cancer was known as “female teratoma,” and it meant that I basically had testicular cancer in the ovary. I got the cancer from my dad. It skipped a generation and was passed down to me from my grandmother, who passed away in 1989, two months after I was born.

My illness was so rare that it took doctors five years to link my symptoms to cancer. I was 13 years old when I started to feel unwell. I’d visit my general practitioner on a weekly basis, but they just told me it was “teenage hormones.” I would than be issued pain killers to help control the suffering that I was enduring. I would need these pain killers so often that it became easier to just buy them over the counter with my lunch money rather than visiting the general practitioner. At this time, my cancer was growing and becoming very aggressive.

By this time, the cancer had gotten so big that my mum was convinced I was pregnant – that’s how huge my ovary had grown.

My experience with having cancer is that there’s a darkness that those who aren’t going thought the ordeal feel, and at some point in treatment or outside treatment us cancer patients feel a darkness, too. It took me a long while to come to terms with my illness; I don’t think I’ve truly even realized the implication of  having cancer and how it’s affected, my life good or bad.

I’m not sure exactly how to express my thoughts when it comes to the after-effect of having cancer. However, I know having cancer is difficult: going to the hospital not know if I was going to beat this disease and how it would affect me after  left me with questions – would I remain the same person? Would my spirit be broken?

Before been diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t much of a writer. My writing was limited to just the average coursework and emails. But after going through the ordeal, I had to find a way of expressing my thoughts and feelings. That’s when I started finding comfort in writing.

I kept a journal – that way my thoughts didn’t start driving me crazy.

Writing was my escape and at one point the only friend I had. It’s strange – growing up, my mum would say, “Your  friends aren’t your friends until you really need them and they are still there.” I obviously didn’t get it then. I should have listened, because when I had cancer it was like my friends didn’t exist in my life anymore. They became more like strangers in the street – they disappeared and I even had friends wondering if cancer was catching.  Even though I was a little uneducated on the topic,  I knew cancer wasn’t contagious.

I’m still under the watchful eyes of the doctors, and I try to get involved with the different cancer trust groups available for teens and young adults. The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, Teenage Cancer Trust and TeensUnite are some that I am involved with.

Cancer still has an impact on my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be the person I was before cancer, nor would I want to be: having cancer highlighted a strength within me that I didn’t know existed and it allows me to meet some of the most inspirational people out there.

Temeka Pilar Williams is a 23 year old from London, UK where she is completing her degree in tourism management. She has been writing since she was 16. She enjoys reading, writing and traveling, as well as spending time with her family and friends. This is her first submission for Women Writers, Women Books.


Category: Being a Writer

Comments (5)

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  1. Pam says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My mom never wrote – although she was always the biggest supporter of my writing – but began to journal after her cancer diagnosis. I think it was an oasis and form of therapy for her, and I was so glad to see her doing it since I couldn’t imagine going through our experience as one of her caregivers without the sense of calm that writing gave me. I wish you all the best in life and writing!

  2. Temeka, it sounds like you’ve been through such a difficult time without anyone to help you but you’ve turned your life around and are now helping others. You know what they are going through. You now have gifts to help others. You are a very special. Thank you for sharing and being so honest.

  3. Lisa Grant Francis says:

    Trusting Jesus is all that really matters and your life will never be the same.l know the Lord will make away for you to inspire many troubled lifes and strenghten the weak. Keep on doing good

  4. Lisa Grant Francis says:

    Temeka I trust that God will use you inspire others who are weak.continue to trust him he is our Jehovah Rapha [the healer]

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