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July 21, 2011



by Rev. A. J. Iovine

When I started my cancer treatment in March, my oncologist encouraged me to write about my experiences, to pour out on paper or the web my heartfelt concerns, heartaches, and worries.

I am not one of those who pours my heart out; I am basically an introvert. Ever fear and worry is kept inside. Outwardly, I let my personality shine somewhat. However, inside of my heart and mind, there is many times a different person worried and fearful about life situations. When told I have cancer, I was outwardly positive. Yet inside, I was scared to death.

My oncologist saw that in my on my first day, reminding me of my senior year high school English teacher who told me that a monster lurked inside of me. Staring at me that fateful Thursday, “Doc” reached for her cup of raspberry tea, brought the cup to her lips, supped gently. Placing the mug back onto its coaster, she looked deeply at me and said words that I would not forget.

“Anthony, cut the crap.”

The words jerked me out of my outward calm exterior. Instead of speaking in quiet tones, Doc wanted me to let my feelings out. I was a 39-year old pastor who was diagnosed with cancer. She said I needed to free myself of my fears or the cancer could win. That Thursday, she made a couple of suggestions:

1. I could sign up to speak with a psychologist on the staff of her hospital or join a cancer support group.

2. I must write.

Not that I should write; her strong suggestion was that I had no choice but to write. I needed to get my fears on paper and read them aloud. Being scared about dying is common in many cancer patients; I needed to let that fear come alive. She explained that if I didn’t find a way to do that, I would be eaten up inside.

I only had to get beyond my fear of letting people know how I was really feeling.

And, of course, when I started writing on my blog, I became a reporter instead of a columnist. My writing was more “Who, what, when, where, how” where I would tell a story of someone I met instead of telling the story about me and how I was feeling. I told stories of people I met instead of what the doctors and nurses were doing to me and how all that treatment was making me feel. And even in those rare occasions I wrote about how I was feeling, I masked that I was feeling like garbage. How many times did I write of the nights I knelt by the toilet at home? In those times when I did eat, I never wrote of just how bad food tasted. When I would go to bed at a ridiculously early hour, I never wrote about my inability to lay down because of the pain of the PICC line in my arm . Did I ever write of the fear of dropping the patin during Holy Communion simply because my left arm was aching and weak? I do not think I ever wrote about my fear of driving – I would get so tired in the daytime, I would worry that I just could fall asleep at the wheel as I drove to the post office or even to the bank.

There were so many issues that were going around in my head, all of which were never let out.

Last week, my oncologist and my new psychologist (goodness, I am not looking forward to these bills) said I need to free myself of worry. When I met with “Head Doc”yesterday, he said I need to find ways to relieve myself of the worries that mentioned to him in our first session. His suggestion was the same as my oncologist back in March: I should keep a private journal.

I said I needed to be more open. He said he didn’t care, but I needed to be truthful.

He suggested I start a blog. I told him I already had 2 – one on my church’s website and a separate “non-churchy” site. Giving him the URL of the “non-churchy” site, he said I shouldn’t be paying for a crappy, laid out blog on Typepad. Save my money, he said, and go to WordPress or Blogger.

So that is why I started here this morning. I pulled over other blog posts from the Typepad site just to make this place feel a little more “home-ish.” Yet my psychologist said he is going to check everyday. He wants me to write long posts on me. If I want to post news articles, that’s fine. But this blog is supposed to be about me.

And so it begins.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Head Doc
    Jul 21 2011

    Nice. “Head Doc.”

    Let me know about your radiation treatment today.

  2. Jul 21 2011

    Hopefully you have Option A to help with some of the bills!


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