When I was young I always wanted to sing and dance when I grew up. Having never had lessons in either, I would dance around my bedroom holding a hairbrush as a microphone and copying the dance moves I avidly watched on Top of the Pops. Self-taught, I only realised my talent when at 14 years old I asked the PE teacher in High School could I perform a dance I had choreographed with my best friend Nicola at their yearly gym and dance evening event. ‘Don’t be ridiculous’ was written all over their faces until I insisted they watched what I had created.

After weeks of badgering for 5 minutes of their time, the PE teachers finally agreed to watch and they did in amazement at what we had achieved in the privacy of my bedroom where you could barely swing a cat. We were guaranteed a slot in the dance show and even asked if we could choreograph another in the second half as there was a 5 minute space that needed to be filled.

And that was that, we set to it and wowed the audience, teachers and parents who didn’t realise our passion for dance. The unfortunate side of this story is that after the show during a parents evening numerous teachers advised my parents that dance held a future for me. On their return my mum relayed what the teachers had said but lack of self-belief ended my dream right there.

How could I have a future in dance when so many other girls my age had danced all their life? Professionally taught in all areas of dance most of them from the age of 3, I couldn’t possibly compete. ‘I can’t’ I told myself. ‘I’m just not good enough’. I wasn’t pushed or encouraged to think otherwise and went on to study Languages never really knowing what I would become.

I am now 37 and discovered a love of make-up along the way becoming a make-up artist in my mid- twenties I was happy to be applying myself creatively. Now that is on hold whilst I am on this cancer journey, (a low immune system keeps me out of the salon) I have discovered a real love for writing. I blog online, scribbling notes throughout the day and piecing my thoughts together about all that is happening in my life hoping that if it makes a difference to just one person’s life it will all be worthwhile. The feedback has been fantastic with lots of praise and support from friends and family and even complete strangers with many insisting a book should be next.

A seed has been planted. At first I laughed at the idea. Me an Author? Why I’d love to put all these blogs together and create a book. My mind was now ticking.

And then this week someone posted a link on my Facebook page of another young woman, blogging her way through cancer. As a qualified journalist, having studied to write for a living, she has wrote a book and has had it commissioned by the BBC to be made into a series. I read her amazingly, well written, descriptive, hilariously funny, grammatically correct accounts of her life with a cancer diagnosis and all those insecurities from being 14 years old came flooding back to me.

Me an Author…how ridiculous? How can I compete with qualified authors, writers who have spent years at university to achieve their dream? And then, like a light bulb going on, I remembered I am not a 14 year old child anymore waiting for someone else to encourage me follow a love of what I do. I am Melanie O’Neill, 37 years old who now knows better. I am dealing with cancer and a rollercoaster of emotions that may not be hilariously funny when put down on paper but with the response I’ve had so far I can touch people lives in the way I write about my experiences.

Cancer has brought many lessons in to my life. Live for today. Have no regrets. Enjoy what you do. Do what you love and ignore anyone who tells you you can’t. “You can’t?” Now that’s ridiculous, because now I really believe you can!

I may have hung up my dancing shoes, but my pen is full of ink!

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