Monday 13 August 2018

Writing Through Illness - My Story.

By Cassandra Samuels

In 2014 my debut book A Scandalous Wager was accepted for publication.

My dream since I was fifteen was coming true. I thought the rest of my author life would just fall in line. I was wrong.

I never factored in illness.

In 2015 I started A Scandalous Secret, but was tired all the time and finding it hard to get into my creative space. Something wasn’t right. I already suffered from achilles tendonitis in both ankles, but now I had a pain in my toes that ached all day and kept me awake at night. I was a hot mess! I’d been diagnosed with seronegative arthritis eighteen months after my daughter was born but I had muddled through for over eighteen years and it had never stopped me from doing what I needed to do.

This was different.

Courtesy of Sage Friedman - upsplash

After a few tests my specialist said I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Okay, I thought, just get some new medication and get on with things, but it wasn’t to be for me. The next two years were filled with multiple medications, with debilitating pain and disappointment, and with side effects that left me wondering if I was ever going to feel like a functioning person again. I had brain fog, I lost a lot of my hair and there were times when certain parts of my body just didn’t want to cooperate or move at all. My stomach was a war zone with constant cannon fire audible to everyone. The worst was the fatigue, both mental and physical.

I couldn’t write.

courtesy of Max Van Den Oetelaar - upsplash

In fact, at times I struggled to make a decision as simple as which pair of black pants to wear to work. I had over 200 sick days built up before my diagnosis. Now I struggled to get through a week without needing a day or more off. I started injections that were supposed to suppress my immune system and stop my body from fighting itself, plus strong anti-inflammatories. Nothing worked.

Somehow through all this I managed to re-write, not once but twice, my current book, Collector of Hearts. It has taken me four years to get another book on the digital shelves. That it’s finally out there is testament to my determination and the support of my family, friends and critique partners, not to mention the understanding and patience of my editor.

Today, I am still struggling. I am on a new weekly injection that is, indeed, suppressing my immune system. The downside of it is, though, that I am more likely to pick up an illness – a cold or infection – and that I will most likely get it worse than someone who has an immune system to fight it. It will also take longer to recover. Fatigue is a constant battle, making it extra challenging to find time to write around a full-time job.

This takes a toll on my mental health as well. Stress is particularly bad for me and I am always trying to keep it together – not always successfully. I constantly feel like I am letting people down — my readers, my family, my work colleagues and myself.

There is one constant – I want to write.

I want to keep creating stories for people to enjoy. I may not be churning out the books as fast as I want to, but my will is strong and I will keep at it until the next book is written, and the next one and the next one. Why? Because I love it.

For me completing a book is not just a mission completed or a job well done, it is a triumph over my illness.

If you want to know more about Rheumatoid Arthritis click on this link.

Have you every had to fight through illness to do the thing you love?

Love to love: Younger - tv show on Stan Australia.

Love to laugh: At my funny little grandsons, Ryan, Finn and Eli

Love to learn: New things I can do on my laptop.


  1. Hugs to you Cassie I do love your stories and will always be patient waiting for the next one to come out.

    I too suffer from a condition that pulls me down and have just started on new injections fingers crossed it works for me hugs in the meantime I have lots of good books to look forward to and rest and read

    Have Fun


    1. Hi Helen. Thank you for dropping in. I'm sorry to hear that you have a similar battle of your own. I hope your new medication works for you. It's the trial and error that takes a toll, isn't it?

  2. Hugs and wishes for better health, Cassie. I don't suffer from an ilness that constantly puts me in pain but I know what you're going through. My dad suffered daily from heart and aorta issues even after a major operation. So 12 years of pain for him and daily worry andacaring by his family. Osteoarthritis for my mum led to such debilitating pain she couldntc walk more than a metre at a time before hip replacements. Now her hips are fine but her back is a mess according to doctors. So I care for her and constantly worry. Add to that a sudden episode of pulmonary embolism for me
    leading to emergency hospital admission and now a constant watch for appearance of blood clots. Life, work and health issues sure take my time for writing. But like you, I love to write. And so I persist, knowing I can make my dream of publication a reality.

    1. And you will make that dream come true Enisa because you are determined and passionate about your work.

  3. Hi Cassandra. No one can really know what another person is going through, but we can definitely sympathise if we're told a little about it. The last few years have clearly been a tough time for you, but through it all you've stayed positive and persevered with your writing. Congratulations on having Collector of Hearts finally out there. A fantastic achievement!

    1. Thank you Marilyn. I'm certainly not going to let it get the best of me.

  4. Hi Cassandra, I think your openness, bravery and determination help you to fight your illness. I believe they also contribute to your success as a writer. I enjoyed reading "A Scandalous Wager". "Collector of Hearts" is waiting on my Kindle to be read on our next trip away. I look forward to reading more of your work. Best wishes, Sharon.

  5. Thank you Sharon. Some days are so hard and others impossible but I now know I can only do what I can do. I hope you enjoy Collector of Hearts.

  6. I am so glad you enjoy the stories and I found I fall in love with all these two books too. So I had decided to read the novel story. I will get eBooks Download online and read the story of the book.

  7. Cassie you do amazingly well coping with everything life throws at you and you always have a smile. Keep writing, I love reading your stories!

  8. Looking forward to reading your latest. Completely understand where you're coming from. Have had lupus for 29 years with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis plus suppressed immune system. But must keep writing as it's my passion.

  9. Cassandra, I admire you from the bottom of my heart. Living with debilitating illness is absolutely no fun, especially when it comes along with aches and pains, but IMHO you are a gift to this world. You are a fabbo wife, mum, grandmother, daughter, friend, and WRITER. Your books are fantastic, and I love them. I will read anything your write and know I will love it, and also know you’ve done your research and got it all ‘right’. Hang in there my friend, never surrender, I thank God for you. xx


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