After my first workshop at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program, Director Robin Hemely invited me to his office. “Emma,” he said, “you have a dramatic, messy life with tons of baggage.” (How does he know after reading one stinkin’ essay?) “And I can tell you,” he continued, leaning onto his desk overrun with literary paperwork, “your main focus while in this writing program must include: how to frame your work.” Not one aspect of my life is left untouched by having cancer—in fact, cancer’s breadth inflames profound traumatic experiences I thought without rival. I write to be heard, to heal, to tell it like it is.
What does one eat after hearing their cancer prognosis? I receive much advice about this from all, including friends, family and the medical community. I tried fasting, the Ketogenic diet, as well as a high protein diets with dangerous results. And what articles, stories and research does one believe? At the core of wading through cancer diets and research, Socrates maxim transcends cliché: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Just because chemo is administered in a systemic fashion doesn’t mean any single modality or diet works--it depends on the individual. That's why Emerson's “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” inspires me to trust the goddess inside.
Luckily I live in Portland now (after a short stint in Taos, NM and the wilds of Colorado’s Western Slope). Luckily, I’m on Oregon’s Health Share Medicaid insurance. Luckily, I’m undergoing treatment at Oregon’s Health and Science University—specifically the Knight Cancer Institute. But there are expenses I never could have predicted: for acupuncture, a Naturopathic doctor, buying all organic, probiotics, therapy, Chinese herbs, a Mindfulness course, etc., I’m offering various crafts for sale and I promise—100% of your donations support my medical expenses.