Meet Sheri Brisson, Coauthor of The Digging Deep Journal
As an adult brain tumor survivor and someone who had a number of surgeries and hospital stays as a child, I understand firsthand how difficult it is to deal with medical challenges. While I was being treated for my brain tumor, my family’s mantra was “stay positive,” and we tried, no matter the circumstance. But my most powerful memories are the one or two times that my parents cried with me. It was a relief to acknowledge that what we were going through as a family was anything but normal. At the time, there was no tool like Digging Deep that created a space where it was okay for them to be sad, and for me to be sad too. True support came from my parents sharing their feelings with me, and thus allowing me to show them mine. If I had been able to work on a book like this with my parents, we would have had so many more opportunities to share those feelings and move past them.
After I had recovered from the physical part of my illness, I had a lot of emotional healing left to do. I participated in a patient empowerment program, in which every week we were taught a different technique that would allow us to take charge of a part of our recovery. From this I learned that as lonely and trapped as one can feel during cancer—my cancer actually gave me a gift—I could have the freedom to live my life the way I wanted to live it.
Through the process of being ill, I learned that the most important thing for me was to connect with people in a real and honest way. It took a lot of self-reflection to uncover this ultimately simple principle on which I now base my life. Now, more than 25 years out, I’ve come to value how much honest sharing of my feelings and myself has changed my relationships with the people I care about the most. From my many personal medical challenges and a dozen years spent counseling families and children with serious illnesses, I have made it my life’s mission to empower sick kids and their families. I know firsthand that these kids need more than distraction; they need to heal their hearts. My wish for these children and teens who have so much at stake emotionally is that they find their own inner strength and learn to connect with the important people in their lives so that they can find peace and discover the blessings after their own storm. I truly hope, starting with Digging Deep, that more attention and resources are dedicated to directly supporting the emotional needs of children with health challenges.