Friday, February 28, 2014

CYBER SUPPORT

My first blog logo, circa April 2011
It's been nearly three years since my first blog post hit cyberspace. It was April 2011, and I was in the thick of my frustration, anger and sadness following a breast cancer diagnosis. If I didn't write down what I was feeling, I thought my head would explode. Blogging became a natural way for me to process my cancer "situation."

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 helpfulNow I've hit 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:


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 AdventureA Happy Surprise, On Cancer Blogging and My Ideal WinterPlease 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.

12 comments:

  1. oh, Renn,

    what a gracious and kind person you are! to say nothing of what an incredible blog you write that I know has helped so many of us in a gazillion ways with your generosity, your advocacy, and sharing your story to enlighten and encourage us. and I have been so grateful to you for the other blogs, like A Pain in the Neck, that you have taken the time to highlight on The Big C and me. thank you for always making me feel included like today when you mentioned me. CONGRATULATIONS for nearing the 100,000 visits to your page - you da' bomb, girl! love you.

    XOXO,

    karen

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    1. Karen, *you* are the Queen Bee of support. Thank YOU for all of yours!! I've said it before, and will say it again" You should start a blog of your own. No learning/reader curve, you will have 100s of readers immediately! xoxo

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  2. Renn, this is so sweet... thank you so much for including me, you made me feel special... :)

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    1. Launna, you have been here since day one and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your *are* special!

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  3. Wonderful to see a fresh post from you - and what a lovely one it is. I love the line about a village to build a blog - that's so true :-) Glad you are part of my tribe, Marie (@JBBC) x

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    1. Ah Marie, I have drawn on your encouragement many times when I haven't had the energy to finish a post. I have dozens of ideas in my draft fold just waiting for a few moments of clarity. Thank YOU for your unwavering support of my blogging. You really are a true gem!

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  4. Awww, thanks for the mention, Renn! It goes both ways - you have inspired me too. My blog might be about a vastly different subject, but it was through your inspiration that I started it. "It takes a village to build a blog"....you know the name of my blog right? GF, you were inspiring me to take the leap. Thank you for your friendship!!

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    1. Thanks, Sue!! I didn't know my blog inspired you to start one! (For those readers with young children, check out Sue's fabulous library blog here: http://libraryvillage.blogspot.com
      xoxo

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  5. Yes! to everything you said. Renn, we love you too! --Eileen at Womaninthehat

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  6. Replies
    1. THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY, HEATHER! :-)

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Your comments are encouraging — and encouraged!