Here’s a new one. Last month I was asked by the editor of Highlands Ranch Lifestyle magazine to write a 500-word article that intersects gratitude, my breast cancer experience, and my life as an independent author.
I submitted a 499-word article, but then two days later received a call from the editor. “I loved your article,” she said. “But it made me cry. I know your breast cancer experience was horrific and you captured it beautifully; however, this is a lifestyle magazine and we need something more positive.”
She was apologetic, and I understood her dilemma. It was the November issue after all, focused on thankfulness and turkey gravy recipes.
My pride wasn’t hurt. In fact, I was elated that I had educated someone new about how cancer is never invited and cancer never leaves. And then she said the dreaded words: “I love how you ended your story on a positive note. Why don’t you start the article with that?”
Drats. This was going to be a significant challenge. Tell an unpleasant story in such a way that it doesn’t make anyone cringe. Positive all the way. Slaying dragons and saving unicorns. Got it.
Well, I did rewrite the article but insisted the editor use someone else’s name for the byline (a sophisticated word that means the author of an article). I applied every ounce of magical powers I could muster, and I got the rewrite done.
When I compared the two versions, I wondered how many cancer survivors and caregivers would be offended that my story was presented in a gift-wrapped box tied with pink ribbon.
My biggest lesson learned? When I write for someone else who has editorial authority because it’s their publication, that’s the point. It’s their publication, and I remain grateful for the opportunity to share my story and bring attention to the intersection of cancer and mental health.
Healing is rooted in honesty, not façade. And it wasn’t until I started writing honestly about cancer and mental health that I felt my anxiety and depression needle move out of the red zone. I began to heal out loud. Authentically. Skipping the sugar coating.
Since I didn’t get to end the article my way, I’ll sign off by sharing my original ending:
Farewell, pumpkin spice season!