My rituals before and during the pandemic
In October 2019, I was told that I had stage II Hodgkin lymphoma. When I started my treatments, I decided to start writing in a journal that I had gotten several years ago. On the cover, it said, “The best way to get something done is to begin.”
At the time, I had picked up the journal because that sentence really spoke to me. I would have never thought that I would fill that little notebook with my greatest fears, my greatest joys—basically, all the feelings I’ve experienced during my battle with cancer. I found refuge in that journal, writing things in it that made me smile, drawing and gluing pictures in it, copying down passages from books that made me feel good. I wrote down whatever came into my mind. Mostly, I wrote things that helped me stay focused on my professional and personal goals. It was so important to me to stay on track, to remain in control of what I could—my dreams and ambitions. And at the start of each month, I would make a calendar. When I felt like it, I would add a little drawing that reflected how I felt or my mood that day. It might seem a bit strange, but that habit was a chance for me to check in with myself, my mood and state of mind. I’m sure that having that little routine kept me sane throughout this chapter of my life.
This thing that we’re all going through right now is unprecedented, and we don’t have much control over it. Creating little rituals like journaling is simple, but it can have a real impact on our daily stress levels. Just like I did during my treatments, I encourage you to get yourself a journal and write in it regularly. Write about not only your worries but also your good days and turn your feelings into drawing or collages. I’m sure you’ll be just as surprised as I was at what this simple gesture can do for you.
Journal from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada
Journaling may have health benefits for you no matter where you are in your blood cancer experience. Research shows that the practice can help reduce stress, improve your memory, and strengthen your immune system. If you want to keep a journal like Stéphanie, but would like some guidance, we invite you to follow our mindful journaling practice. You can print our journal at home and begin to incorporate this practice in your daily life.