We Gather Stars in the Dark

by Jul 23, 2018Community, Guest Blogger

My whole life changed when, at the age of 27, I was suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer.  At a time when my husband and I should have been focusing on our future, we filled our days with managing the side effects of my chemotherapy. Instead of starting a family we had to concentrate on my recovery from surgeries.  I needed a way to cope, clear my mind, and document my journey.

I turned to writing.

At first, I started a blog to keep my family and friends informed of my medical appointments. The more I wrote, the more my writing became a source of support and inspiration for me. As I sat alone in cold clinic rooms for scans and procedures, I would envision the comments left by others on my blog. I could feel the love and positive energy surrounding me like beacons twinkling in the night. I knew whatever happened, we would all be okay, because we had each other.

When I couldn’t sleep, I’d take out my computer and start typing.  At times, tears rolled down my face as my fingers typed faster than my emotions could keep up. I wrote things that I hadn’t yet taken the time to slow down and process. Often I would seek out little, sometimes humorous, moments in my life to write about to relieve the heaviness of the dark days.

Five years after that diagnosis we were blessed with our beautiful daughter through the help of a gestational surrogate.  I thought our story was ending with “happily ever after,” but less than four months later I learned my cancer had metastasized.

My cancer was no longer about pink ribbons.


About Janell

Janell Meier’s mission in life is to inspire others to be their own advocate, keep humor even in difficult times, and lean on others. She thrives on connecting and learning from others while educating on the importance of metastatic breast cancer research. Janell was the full scholarship recipient of Joanne Fedler’s 2018 Author Awakening Adventure and has used the opportunity to further grow as an emerging author while learning about herself. Writing has been a way to process and cope with her life experiences. Janell’s hope is that her young daughter won’t have to remember her only by her written words.

This time it meant I was fighting for my life.  I would never again hear the words, “You are cancer free.”  I was left wondering how long I would have to see my baby grow up.  At the young age of 33, I had already been to too many funerals for my friends that had passed away from metastatic breast cancer.  This second diagnosis left me facing a new plot that could have an entirely different resolution.

One day, while at the cancer center for treatment, I met a four-year-old girl and her family. She wore a princess shirt and her family of three lit up with excitement as they told me about their recent vacation to Disney World.  Our baby was about to turn one year old so, naturally, I saw in them my own little family. It was then that I decided I wasn’t going to wait for my baby to grow up to make all sorts of memories with her. Months later, I learned that cancer took that mother away from her family forever.  Though my interaction with that young woman was short, she became a shooting star in my life and made more of an impact on me than she was ever able to realize. Being inspired by her example, I’ve been lucky enough to have written about my daughter’s first time taking off in an airplane, and her first time experiencing the power and beauty of the ocean.

My little girl is now three and I continue to document as much of my life as I can.  I jot down ordinary moments that touch my heart.  Whether it be song lyrics, a simple interaction with my daughter, or a memory of my own childhood.  I seek out the tiny daily miracles and interactions in life that can be easily overlooked. I find these moments can be as magical as a blazing comet in the evening sky.

When you take the time to look, you’ll find amongst all the darkness, your life story is sprinkled with many stars. Parts of our life storylines are laid out for us.  All of us face our own struggles.  The thing is that we can strengthen and inspire others by sharing bits about our experiences.  We each have the power to light the way for others who may be in their own dark of night.

Patience in Writing

I recently hauled out a box in which I’ve been stowing thoughts, ideas, inspiration and research for a book I have been wanting to write. It was packed with journals, scrapbooks, scribbles and diagrams in several folders which I will need to make sense of to turn it...

Show Don’t Tell: A Golden Rule of Writing for Aspiring Authors

One of the trickier ‘golden rules of great writing’ that can be difficult to understand and execute is the ‘show don’t tell’ rule.Anton Chekhov wrote, ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’What does it mean to show not...

Where Don’t You Want to Go – Go There

My friend Ilze, who is a gifted group facilitator, says, ‘You can only take others as deep as you have gone yourself.’ Writing is like facilitating – it’s leading people (your readers) into the places you’ve visited within. As writers, we’ve tacitly undertaken to our...

Where Is My Writing Voice?

When I heard the question, “How do I find my writing voice?” I had this vision of searching my house. Looking behind the cushions on the couch, checking amongst the debris long forgotten in the back of my wardrobe, maybe even turning out the rubbish bin in my...

Ageing Songlines

I find myself wondering more and more about her warning. Is it really obscene to grow old? I mean, what are a couple of white hairs, a bit of sagging skin, leathery arms and the odd stray facial hair? Really.

‘I Want to Write… Bbbut Where Should I Start?’

Ah, of course, where should you start? Not knowing where to begin is another reason many of us don't start writing, combined with ‘it’s too overwhelming’ and 'I don't have the time.' So say you want to write your lifestory. A memoir. Something about who you have...


  1. TLaw

    Blessed to know such a positive human being! Your journey always puts my life in perspective, Janell. For that I thank you.

    • Janell Meier

      Thank you for being a shining star in my life, Tiara.

  2. Ali

    Wow! So inspirational!! You are truly gifted Janell. What a blessing you are to everyone you meet ❤️

    • Janell Meier

      Thank you, Ali. I’m thankful to have so much support along the way.

  3. Sharon

    I am truly inspired by you, Janell every day. As part of my family
    I’m blessed beyond words. You have taught me not to take life for granted and to make sweet memories while we can. I love your writings and you.

    • Janell Meier

      Love you, Sharon! When and where is our next adventure?

  4. Diane Rozenberg

    Janelle, I read this with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face. You are such an inspiration and your writing is beautiful. Your family are truly lucky to have you in their lives. I haven’t seen you in so many years that I still think of you and Sara as little girls and teenagers! And to see what you been through, I’m in aw of you! Your little girl is so lucky to have such good parents that care and love her so much! Keep strong and keep being the warrior you are! All my love and prayers. ❤????????????

    • Janell Meier

      Thank you, Diane. Our little girl is what keeps us looking to the future with great anticipation. Some day I’ll have to take her to House on the Rock.

  5. Shelly

    You are so amazing Janell! You are an inspiring woman. You have always had this light inside you that makes you a true blessing to be around! I enjoy every moment with you because you have the ability to make us all smile and be grateful for the moments we have with each other! Keep writing and sharing your story. We all need to hear that through faith and love we can make beautiful memories to lift us up in times of struggle!

    • Janell Meier

      This made me smile, Shelly. I am grateful for each moment I get to spend with my family. From roaming the streets in D.C. to riding in a cable car above the river in Niagara Falls. Oh yeah, and talking Gma B into trying the DD Munchkins. We are so blessed! Where are we going next?

  6. Brian

    As Janells hubby I can honestly say it is a true honor to be by her side and watch her venture through cancer like it’s just another ordinary Tuesday. Just when I think I’m having a bad day I lean on her strength and it makes everything wash away and seem so minimal. Love you babe and keep inspiring and creating your own galaxy of stars. You touch more lives then you’ll ever know ????

  7. Crystal Pomeroy

    Janell you are such a talented and amazing women/mother and such a shining light and inspiration to so many people. I feel so blessed to know you and to call you friend. I will always continue to follow your journey along with that of your family and I hope you continue to write and to share your stories with the world.

  8. Barb

    As I wrote in your poem the night I found out my beloved niece had breast cancer, “Along this journey she will continue to tell others of the gifts she has found….”
    I like to think when you were a little girl I taught you some things about life, but now that you are a wise woman you teach me more about life than you will ever know.
    I appreciate your willingness to share your pain, fear, tears, laughter, joy and faith with us all.
    We, your family, are so lucky you are on this journey of life with us.

    Brielle couldn’t have a better mother. And You and Brian make one hell of a team!!

    I cherish every minute with you!! Doesn’t matter if it a girls trip, a game night, a relaxing night just talking and laughing or a simple text.

    Love you!!

  9. Barb

    As I wrote in the poem I wrote the night I found out my beloved niece a breast cancer, “Along this journey she will continue to tell others of the gifts she has found”
    I like to think as your auntie I taught you somethings about life as you were growing up, but the shoe is on the other foot now as you teach me so much about life, the art of living it, daily.
    I am so proud to be your aunt and so blessed to be your friend.

    Brielle is one lucky little girl to have such an amazing mom!! You and Brian make one hell of a team!

    I enjoy every minute with you, whether it is a girls trip, a game night, a simple night visiting and laughing, or a quick text.

    Love and hugs 🙂 Barbie

    • Barb

      oh geez sorry I posted twice!!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *