|My first blog logo, circa April 2011|
I wasn't always aware of what I was dealing with; enlightenment often came after I hit the "publish" button. Writing is weird that way.
The dichotomy between my being a private person blogging about very personal matters in a very public forum was not entirely lost on me. (It helped that few people outside my daily orbit knew that I had breast cancer; I told even fewer of them that I was blogging.) I write under a pseudonym, and still have no desire to change that. I guess I'm weird that way.
I also don't discuss this blog or my breast cancer on Facebook. I like a strict separation of church and state. And I realize not everyone feels that way.
At this point in my "cancer recovery," people that know no longer ask how I'm doing. Some days that's OK with me. And some days it's not. That's one reason why I'm still blogging.
One of my first online friends was Maria. We "met" on one of the Breastcancer.org (BCO) discussion forums. I can't emphasize enough what a fabulous resource BCO is; no matter what you're going through breast cancer-wise, you will find others dealing with a similar issue. I started a thread there on an issue I was having due to a reconstruction complication, and it has been a lifeline not only to me, but to hundreds of women the past two years. Over 100,000 people with breast cancer the world over are on the BCO discussion boards. Check them out, and please spread the word.
So back to Maria. She started a blog entitled Breast Cancer Won't Define Me in late 2010, and I found myself thinking with every post: This is me. This is what I'm feeling, too! I cant describe how good it felt to realize I wasn't alone.
And that's how this blog began. Though I didn't understand how anyone would find my blog, let alone find it helpful. Now it's close to hitting 100,000 page views, and I remember being astounded when the page counter hit 100 — which both perplexes me and sends me over the moon. The blogosphere is so weird that way!
Another reason I still blog: I've had the great fortune to connect with a vibrant, diverse and dynamic cancer blogging community. Being a small voice for this community that helps educate, support and demystify the breast cancer experience has been an unexpected and humbling experience.
But the icing on the cancer cake has been the connections I've made in cyberspace. Who knew cancer could bring so many new people into my life? Two of my first bloggy readers were Debbi and Sandy — and both ladies are now gone. (To honor the many others who have passed away since I began blogging, please see my "We'll Never Forget" heading on the right side of my blog).
Several non-cancer bloggers found me, including Launna and Mary and Carrie; then the BC contingent followed. Many of you know many of these folks, but I'd like to give a special shout out to them here:
- Dennis and Nancy and Holly and Cynthia;
- Alli and Kathi and Catherine and Jan;
- Marie and Anne Marie and Lori and Lani;
- Scorchy and Dee and Victoria and Dee;
- Mina and Jackie and Beth and Phillipa;
- Stacey and Kate and T.K. and Jen;
- TC and Yvonne and Catherine and Shannon;
- Lauren and Nancy and Eileen and Diane;
- Robyn and Liz and Susan and Karen The Commenter;
- Lindsey and Dawn and Tina … oh, the list goes on! There are many more; apologies to anyone I left out. Feel free to leave me a shout out with your blog link below.
My core online gals — whom I've dubbed The Rubies (Barbara, Maria, Marilee, Melanie, Shannon and Sue; read about them here) — and I "tawk" every day on a private Facebook group page. I've had the pleasure of meeting Shannon in real life twice, Marilee once, as well as several bloggers: Terri twice, Vicki and Susan once. Such a treat! And I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout-out to my Twitter peeps over at #BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media). If you're ever on Twitter and have been affected by breast cancer (yourself or a loved one), join us every Monday evening at 9PM ET/8PM Central/6PM Pacific time here. It's a fast-paced hour you won't soon forget! So much community.
One of my greatest joys of blogging is highlighting other bloggers. So many talented voices are out there, so much to learn from them all. A few of my favorites have been mentioned here, here, here and here; besides all the folks I mentioned above, you also can find my running list under the heading Renn's Favorite 'Big C' Blogs on the right side of my blog page. That's right — they write about a variety of cancers.
In that vein (pardon the pun), I'd like to introduce you to A Pain in the Neck, a witty blogger who writes with humor about her experience with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Like me, she is a private person who prefers not to use her real name when blogging. We worked together, A Pain in the Neck and I, and believe me when I tell you she is as far from a pain in the neck as a person can be! (Which makes her choice of blog titles even more humorous.) Diagnosed with cancer one year ago, she is currently undergoing chemo again, and hoping for an autologous stem cell transplant in her near future. A few of her recent blog posts include Choose Your Own Adventure, A Happy Surprise, On Cancer Blogging and My Ideal Winter. Please show her some bloggy love — I guarantee she will make you laugh!
So you see, it really takes a village to build a blog. I thank you, always, for being the supportive bloggy universe that I love.