P is for A Special Post: My 200th Post! Blogging about Life–with a Dash of BC

Pulling out another post from my ‘rough draft bin’ seems fitting for this 200th post. I can’t believe I have been blogging for 6.5 years! Wow!!!

March 24, 2013

About a year ago, my brain started to realize that I wasn’t in active treatment any longer for breast cancer.

After my outpatient mastectomy on December 28, 2011, I headed back to the classroom 2 weeks later. I returned feeling 70-80%–and that I really couldn’t miss much time (or salary) from work. My administration tried to be accommodating of my recovery, but I teach at a charter school with limited staff and so all hands needed to be on deck. Granted many days I simply went through the motions, but I was there and grateful that as an experienced teacher, I know how to manage my teaching and planning time. January and February seem like a blur of recovery where I passed out exhausted at the end of each work day–but I was ecstatic to receive my Octotype results for Valentine’s Day saying no to chemo and very grateful for our week long Mardi Gras break. One of the funniest things I remember about that time, is needing to stand on a chair to write on my whiteboard because I couldn’t raise my right arm over my head.

But by March, I was informed by both my oncologist and surgeon that things were looking good. I had my range of motion back for the most part, my surgery wound was healing nicely, I had been on Tamoxifen for a month and I was not looking at chemo or radiation. Yes!

So…..now what???

Wasn’t this the time to just get back to normal, move on with my life and consider myself ‘cured’? How come I then felt a nagging sense of isolation and that it wasn’t going to be that easy? Also, what was up with this Komen nonsense of cutting off their funding to Planned Parenthood?

20-25 years ago as an undergrad student of history, I would have gone to my university’s library to start looking for answers. Instead, I turned to the Internet and my trusty friend Google. One link would lead to another link to another…you get the idea. I was educating myself on my form of cancer and the greater cancer community at large. Before the discovery of playing with my smart phone, I used to doodle to keep occupied and one of the things I would create were complex mazes. I didn’t realize it this past year, but I have slowly been creating a maze of information and connections related to breast cancer which has helped in processing my new reality of being a member of the breast cancer club. I take awhile to learn the vocabulary, to understand the big concepts. I discovered this amazing network of bloggers who write about breast cancer and life and started to follow many of their blogs and stories. There is a sisterhood of bloggers that are doing an amazing job of telling the story of life with breast cancer and other illnesses, who are sharing their resources and stories.

I started to feel that I wanted to reach out beyond the Caring Bridge community of my friends and family.

I expect my students to share their research and their stories, like I share mine about history to them. Who would I share my breast cancer stories with? Who would be my audience? Who would care? I found that the more I read, the more I felt like simply a lurker, standing on the outside, feeling more isolated.

But how would I join the sisterhood of breast cancer bloggers whose blog posts I was reading? There were plenty of blogs written by women (and men) who were sharing their experiences, but this wouldn’t be a motherhood blog or a travel blog, so what would I write about?

Thankfully, I found bloggers whose posts made an impact and they had created a community that seemed to be diverse and interesting and engaging and might actually be able to include me.

Thankfully, NOLA’s rock star therapist, Rebecca, helped me find the courage to put together this blog, as well as gave me the encouragement and nudging I needed to actually publish the darn thing.

Thankfully, I found Marie at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer (or rather, she found all of us) and her Weekly Round Up of 10-15 posts that have resonated with her throughout a given week. Frankly, she has single-handedly introduced me over the years to so many gifted writers and whenever I am included in one of her round-ups, I truly feel all warm and fuzzy! 🙂

I wrestled that first year with audience and finding my own writing voice as I tried to figure out my place in breast cancer survivorship.

I still do.

However, I’ve kept at it.

Perseverance.

It amazes me that in 6 and a 1/2 years, I’ve had the following stats:

WordPress doesn’t have a nice compilation of the yearly stats (that I’ve found) but they look something like this:

This analytic is my favourite, however.

 

I love the idea of people reading my posts in other countries and the interconnectivity of it all!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Cheers!

JoAnn

 

 

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