The below post was written for Pancreatic Cancer Action’s blog and can be found on their website here. It is the final blog post that I have written for them this month. I’m really grateful to Pancreatic Cancer Action for all their support and hope I’ll be welcome back in future to do more collaborations with them. The post is about why I started a blog, as the title indicates. Hopefully, there is some new and interesting information in there, even for the more avid readers of the blog!
Tomorrow marks the start of the Running 40 for February challenge, which is exciting and quite scary! It’s going to be an interesting challenge, and one that I am sure is going to be extremely difficult. The amount that has been donated is totally breathtaking though and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated. I never thought I would raise so much, never mind before February had even begun. The link is here if you would like to donate and I will be posting about my progress on the Just Giving page from tomorrow.
Why I Started a Blog- Dan Godley
Since his diagnosis last year, Dan Godley has created a blog to follow the ups and downs of treatment and life. Read on to find out why.
My name is Dan Godley and I was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 28. In response to the diagnosis, I started a blog to talk about my experience dealing with cancer and beyond. I titled it Ebb and Flow after the chorus of a song I like by a little-known UK band called Homebound who are no longer together. The phrase nicely represents the ups and downs of both the struggle against cancer, as well as the general trend of life itself. It has helped me gain perspective when I have needed it most, reminding me that the highs of life are only possible because of the lows and that both are equally valuable in someone’s story.
I had never tried my hand at writing before but have always been an avid reader. I would write down sentences that I liked in the notes application on my phone and re-read them as I sat on the underground on my way into work. I used to save a list of interesting words and challenge my mum to define them. She almost always had an inkling of their meaning and I wondered where she had the capacity to store all this information in her brain, as I barely remembered what I had eaten for breakfast that morning.
Upon being diagnosed, I was immediately admitted to the hospital for two nights for an emergency procedure. I was experiencing jaundice at the time due to a bile duct being blocked, and I couldn’t start treatment until it was corrected. Suddenly, I found myself needing to process a list of firsts; having to stay in hospital overnight, having a procedure done under general anaesthetic, and coming to terms with having pancreatic cancer, after an original diagnosis that was less severe.
As I was sat there struggling to sleep in the hospital bed, I started writing some poetry on my phone. It was cathartic, and the words seemed to fall onto the page like it was writing itself. I wrote ‘Alive’ as I sat awake in the hospital, contemplating the situation.
The boundaries are blurred so I wait,
Observing from a distance,
I consider my fate.
In time there’s some meaning,
I establish my feelings,
A calming naivety, au fait.
As I recoil back within,
Escape the prison of my skin,
I know that I suffer, but I’m alive.
There’s moments of fear,
And flashes of pain.
Some days last an hour,
Some hours last a day.
In confidence, I cry out and drop the facade,
But I fight on regardless.
The process of writing poetry was proving to be so cathartic that I decided to write about my journey to being diagnosed. I had moved back in with my parents by this point and was a few days away from starting chemotherapy. It was a time full of anxiety and worry, and I was struggling to process the situation. ‘The Road to Diagnosis‘ became the first series of posts on the blog, and it was amazing to hear the response of family, friends and beyond to the writing.
I then started writing ‘The Chemotherapy Diaries‘ series which allowed me to reflect more on my experience starting treatment, as well as add more humour to the writing. It felt easier to make light of the treatment phase because the goal of it is positive, it is the means to getting better. The Road to Diagnosis felt more morbid by nature because it was the journey to my final diagnosis, but I still found myself interjecting humour into parts of the story as I better processed events.
Random strangers were commenting on the posts and were relating to the words; not necessarily because they had experienced the exact same things, but they were drawing links to events that had happened in their lives, or someone close to them. The comments vindicated me of any worries I had that the content was boring and irrelevant to other people, and I felt more confident sharing my experiences.
I am still establishing the full purpose of the blog, and the concept of being a ‘blogger’. My confidence is growing in my own voice, and I am branching out beyond just writing about cancer. I started a series called ‘The ‘C’ Word’, specifically not to talk about cancer or anything related to it, but just to write generally on things that are on my mind.
These blogs are the ones that I get the most anxious about releasing, and I find myself constantly checking my phone to see what people are saying in response to them. They feel intimate in a way that the cancer ones don’t, and I get worried that I will be judged for some of the things I am saying. I remind myself that this is the best opportunity for me to embrace vulnerability though, and by doing so, I hope to encourage others to do the same. I have also enrolled in a creative writing course and want to post some short stories on the blog in good time. For now, enjoy reading a few of the posts and leave a comment if you want to interact. I am always checking them and trying to respond to everyone.
By Dan Godley
8 thoughts on “Why I Started a Blog – Written for Pancreatic Cancer Action’s Blog”
Your writing and storytelling are fabulous!!
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Thank you very much – how lovely of you!
I mean it. 🙂
I like it when individuals get together and share views. Great blog, keep it up!
Dan, I just found your blog and it has helped me process this last year from February 2022 to present. I weirdly identified with it and so enjoyed your writing. I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in February 2022 after becoming jaundice. I rode a Citibike to my appointment midtown Manhattan to be told the news by the surgeon. After that you wrote my whole story with major exceptions of course but the outline is the same and of course I am more age appropriate for the diagnosis. Thank you for your writing. It has helped me immensely. Dan explains it all. I am so happy to hear that you are doing well. All the best, Martha
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Hey Martha. Thank you so much for reading and I’m really sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It’s such a horrible, scary process. I’m navigating the trauma of it every day and even in what should be such a positive outcome for me, I still wrestle with it constantly. Whether you’re more age appropriate or not, it cannot make it feel any more just. I really hope you’re giving it a good fight. Take care, and thank you so much for reading. Dan x
Dear Dan, You very kindly responded to my post. Update –after a Whipple surgery in February and 8 months of chemo. Spent the last month plus in France at a friends. I am now in Edinburgh traveling and will return to London for a few days before my flight back to New York where I live. London is home since I lived here for about 10 years so lovely to be there. Thrilled to be moving around again. I hope you are doing well and think about you often. Take care of yourself. All the best, Martha xoxo
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Aw that sounds so lovely. I hope that the surgery and chemotherapy did what it needed to, and you can continue to travel around! It makes such a difference getting out and feeling like you’re alive again. London is a lovely place – lots of nice parks and different places to explore; I adore living there. Edinbrugh is also beautiful. I’m less familiar with New York despite having been there about 5 times; it feels impossible to explore! Perhaps that is what part time London tourtists feel like too. Take care and lovely to hear from you xx