Celebrating My First Year of Writing Columns

Celebrating My First Year of Writing Columns
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This week, I celebrate my one-year anniversary of writing columns for BioNews Services.

A lot has happened in that year: I graduated from college, interned at The Washington Post, and secured a full-time newswriting position at BioNews. I’ve laughed a lot and cried an equal amount. What’s stayed the same in the valleys and peaks of the past year is pulling up to my computer and writing about life with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). 

There’s something cathartic about putting my thoughts on the page. Writing helps me deal with the ugliness of life with a progressive neuromuscular disease. It frees up my mind. I can offload my anxiety onto a delivery truck of words.

Regular readers will notice that I tend to put things in a positive light (there’s a column about that). My life is far from perfect, but I don’t aim to score pity points or discourage others with DMD. It’s exactly the opposite. 

My goal is to turn the negatives into positives. I leverage the hurt into a lesson. Learning is part of the human experience. I hope readers — whether they are patients, friends, caregivers, or parents — will learn when to be wary and how to avoid making the same mistakes I have.

Before I joined BioNews, I wasn’t sure how to put my writing ability to use in the DMD community. It took a Facebook message from Brad Dell, the director of columns at BioNews, and what I believe was divine intervention to enlighten me.

At the University of Southern California, I was part of a group called Christian Challenge. There, I developed close-knit friendships. During my last two years of college, I lived with 13 of those friends. The hundred or so members of Christian Challenge met every week for a lesson, worship, and fellowship. We also had retreats and other activities.

Brad knew one of my friends from Challenge, and he reached out to see if my friend thought I would be a good fit for BioNews. He contacted me, and now I’m here. I feel like it was divine intervention. I didn’t know my purpose and I was feeling lost. By putting incredible people in my life, God showed me the way.

It’s humbling to know that my words reach people around the globe who are dealing with DMD. I’ve gotten messages from readers in Uganda, India, and Italy. I’m thankful for a platform to share my life experience with people who have the same disease. 

By writing 37 columns to date, I’ve learned more about DMD, myself, and how blessed I am to have loving parents, knowledgeable doctors, and supportive friends. I also have learned how to write better, thanks to the patient editors at BioNews and Larry Luxner, my mentor on the news side. 

Looking back at my columns, five stand out as best embodying my Hawk’s-eye view:

  1. “A Positive Attitude Makes a World of Difference When Coping with Duchenne”
  2. Goals Can Simplify Our Complicated Lives”
  3. “Redefining the Word ‘Independence’”
  4. “Here’s How I Explain My Experience with Duchenne to Others”
  5. “Finding My Purpose in Life Despite Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy”

It’s not easy to write about myself. I try to be as transparent and vulnerable as possible. Thank you, my readers, for giving me your eyes. My direct messages are always open.

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Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.

Hawken Miller is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and an aspiring young journalist. He has previously worked for the Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media.
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Hawken Miller is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California and an aspiring young journalist. He has previously worked for the Sacramento Bee, KTLA 5 News and at USC Annenberg Media.
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