Survival Writer By Sue Nading

I always longed to be a writer. My friends considered me one; in spite of the fact that my only publishing credits were letters to the editor.

Yet I always looked for writing opportunities at every local publication or job I held. My husband encouraged me to pursue my dream. But with three small children (one with serious kidney, allergy, and asthma problems), my dream of becoming a writer seemed more elusive than ever.

But I did not give up. I took small steps. I enrolled in writing courses at a local community college or attended writing seminars. I joined writing groups and sought out mentors and networking opportunities.

In early 2003, it paid off. A chance meeting with a newspaper editor opened the door to a freelance writing job. Soon, I had several articles to write (for money!) and my husband had never seen me happier.

Then disaster struck. Shortly after Labor Day 2003, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I started an aggressive 12-week course of chemotherapy followed by radiation. During this time I was offered another freelance job and doubt filled me. I had three children to care for and needed to focus on my health. What should I do?

I told them yes.

It was hard. I interviewed and wrote articles within days of chemotherapy treatments, struggling to maintain my writer’s voice through the fog of “chemo brain”. Once I lost my voice due to radiation treatments, but I still interviewed my subject and met my deadline. It was a constant challenge but I was living my dream.

This year I have ambitious freelance writing goals and have achieved almost all of them. My writing has allowed me to be with my family during important or critical times as well as work around my continuing recovery from cancer.

Sue Nading has written for The Woman Today, The Corridor Business Journal, Writer’s Digest and The Cedar Rapids Gazette, among others. She has provided writing and editing services to area businesses, individuals and organizations. Sue can be reached at suenading (at)