It was not easy, but it was worth it.
When 2014 was coming to a close, I embarked on a journey of opening up about my past and sharing my story regarding my battle with cancer to the world because the urge to tell it was eating me up inside. After being encouraged by my family and receiving a lot of support, I started writing. One night I had one mission before I entered my sheets and that was to write at least two pages so I took my laptop and placed it on my lap and stared at my blank Microsoft office page for a few minutes before finally reaching for my keyboard. I didn’t know where to start or how was I going to sum up a two-year experience into 100-150 pages. How was I going to explain what happened me and why I got sick when I still didn’t understand it as well? I didn’t know how to explain what I felt and quite frankly, I was scared to revisit the old wounds that I had carried for the last four years but I knew deep down in my heart I had to. That night I started writing and everything flowed and there I was, three pages down the line re-reading what I had written. “Alright, I think I can do this,” I thought to myself before surrendering to my sleepiness.
The following day, I was super excited to get back to writing but unfortunately, I couldn’t get passed the 2nd page because my heart was pounding and tears were flowing down my cheeks onto my lap.
“I don’t think I can do this,” I said to myself, slamming my laptop shut and feeling a heavy load on my chest and a bit of disappointment.
The following morning, I met my uncle in the corridor who immediately asked me if I had started writing the book, I replied with an uncomfortable “not yet,” but what I really meant was “I can’t and I don’t want to.” However, at the back of my mind I knew I had to face it and get this book done. After a week, I decided to give it another shot and as smart as I was, I had forgotten to save my document before slamming it shut the last time I had attempted to write, now this left me angry adding to the 1000 reasons I had been giving myself on just letting it go. After gathering the courage to re-write everything again, by telling myself that it’s just another change to make it even better. By the end of the week, I was back on track and now writing had become my place for peace of mind, it was a feeling I do not know how to explain but I believe writing this book gave me a sense of purpose. My love for writing together with writing a story that would change lives someday gave me peace and urged me to write every day. Knowing that, as my fingers tapped the keyboard, I was a step closer to inspiring a life, helped me sleep well at night.
After a month, I was in over my head. Writing had also become a hiding space from my feelings, I blocked them out and focused my mind solely on writing this story and trying to vividly remember every detail of the journey that I forgot to take time and heal my soul first and for the first time, I started experiencing midnight panic attacks. “What is happening to me?” I thought to myself. I thought I was getting sick again and some nights were worse than others and the fact that I didn’t know what was happening to my body made me feel worse. Writing my book had resurrected all the emotional hurt and pain I had masked with a smile for so long. I had taken my memory back to those hospital corridors and I physically felt like I was back there. The tricks our minds play on us. I knew I had to take a break from my writing and so I took a two-month break from writing and decided to heal before healing others. After six sessions of counseling, I was back on the horse again.
The time came where I had to write again. Counseling helped me to re-write my book with a fresh and healed mind which helped me dive into my story to share it boldly and openly, because unless you have healed, you can’t open up and if you can’t open up, you can’t inspire. People connect more with vulnerability and honesty. I knew I had to lay every part of me on the table because cancer is a serious matter and you have to give it your all in order to fight it and raise true awareness on the issue that cancer doesn’t only affect you physically but also mentally. Even though I was physically cancer free, I had realized that emotionally, I was still fighting. I had to heal from that too.
December 2015, I brought a finished manuscript to Imagine We, my publishers. “I have done it,” I kept thinking to myself whenever I worked in their offices during different meetings. It was the most fulfilling yet most challenging experience so far and I was proud of myself. Imagine We supported the vision behind my book and were on board with the story, “My name is LIFE.” January 2017, I took another leap of faith and announced my upcoming book to the world. I was really scared at first because you can’t know what to expect from opening up to the world, but the love and the words of encouragement I received on that day, I thought to myself, “OH MY GOD!” That night, all I asked God was, “Was this it? Was this why you let me go through what I went through? If so Lord, I surrender all unto you. Direct my steps.” Then I went to bed.
A week later, I held a fundraising event and made an official announcement to the world about my journey and yet again, encouragement kept flowing from family, friends and even people I didn’t know. My heart was overwhelmed. After the event, I knew I had to deliver a perfect book. The pressure was not easy but it definitely got a lot of good work done despite the fact that we kept extending the launch dates. Meanwhile, I also needed financial support to finally bring my book to life. During the first week, it was hard because I was not getting all the financial support I needed to meet my budget of 4 million rfw and it brought a lot of stress from running left and right looking for sponsorship. Places where I thought I would rely on to support the cause weren’t really responsive and I would quickly move to another organization. Gathering the funds was challenging but eventually, God made a way. By June 2017, I had gathered all the funds I needed from different organizations that believed in me. It was game-on now.
Now came the editing, possibly every writer’s worst nightmare… Seriously. I worked with three editors and each time, it felt like I was literally re-writing the book all over again because of all the things I had to add or remove but at the end of it all, it was the best book. The pressure to launch grew on me and I had sleepless nights trying to meet a deadline and be a student at the same time. It wasn’t easy because when assignment deadlines knocked on my door, so did the book launch deadline. At some point, I felt like my head was going to explode. My book was my priority but so was my education and so I had to find a way to balance the two, which was a balance really hard to maintain, but I had to do it. Many times I thought of taking a semester break but I knew that’s how people usually end up dropping out of school and that was not on my agenda.
Few months down the line and I am done with the book and ready to finally print and launch, “My name is Life.” Is this how a pregnant lady feels few weeks before the due date? I am raving with excitement and I hope the world receives the love I have poured into writing this book. Also, I would like to deeply thank my publishers at Imagine We for being patient and supportive towards turning this book into a reality. It was not an easy journey but it was worth it and I would do it over and over again just to experience the satisfaction of the end result. Stay tuned.
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