Weekly Round Up – The Changing Season Edition
Time for this week’s round-up of the best of the blog posts which I’ve read over the past week. These are the posts that have moved me, taught me something, inspired me, and which I’ve wanted to share with you. Don’t forget if you have written a post which you would like readers to see, just leave a comment below.
Fall or Autumn, whichever name you call it by – this time of year can be a sad time for some as the leaves fall from the trees, and the long summer days come to an end and we start to prepare for the dark days of winter. I was diagnosed with breast cancer 9 years ago (I can’t believe it is 9 years!) this very week, so Autumn is a poignant time for me, even more so since it is coming up to two years since my beloved mother died. But, for others it is filled with happier associations. Pam Ressler writes ” For me the shift from summer to autumn has always been one of eager anticipation for a new year, filled with new challenges, ideas and opportunities.” It is also a reflective time of year and Pam challenges us to resist the urge to do, but rather let’s just be with nature this autumn. Similarly Lori reminds us that we can get so (understandably) caught up in the big things in life, we can forget to marvel at the small miracles of nature and so this week she took the time to shift some focus to the harvest moon.
Far from her native Scotland, a different kind of changing season faces Philippa in Myanmar. Apart from her incredible photographic skills, Philippa is a beautiful writer, which is why I love her blog so much. This week she shares wonderful images of the rainy season and a beautiful analogy.
This time of year also heralds the advent of “Pinktober” – a hotly debated topic each year in the blogosphere. Pam Stephan urges us to “think before we pink”, and Anne Marie strongly suggests we change the emphasis from awareness to action and education. The Knot Telling blog is reclaiming Pinktober with an invitation to share you story of metastatic breast cancer during the month of October. And one of the most poignant things I read on the theme has been written by Kathi in a post entitiled “Fifty Shades of Pink And Still No Cure”.
One of the most heart-rending blog tasks I’ve had to do this past week is to re-categorize a few of the links on my blogroll, to reflect the fact that the women who write them have been diagnosed with mets since I first connected with them in the blogosphere. That stopped me in my tracks. And my list of bloggers with mets keeps getting longer.
More stimulating topics for debate abound this week in the blogosphere. Nancy asks the question “Have you ever felt as if you’re supposed to keep quiet and just be grateful for being alive?” As a companion piece to Nancy’s post, read “Secrets and Lies” – Beth’s superb writing on cancer stigma and Eileen on “I survived cancer – now what?” And Chris ponders on the “right” amount of information to give a cancer patient; while Carolyn asks if you need a translator for medical jargon.
A new blog discovery this week – Nicole’s Beachcombing Adventures Through Life..and Breast Cancer. Check out her latest post on chemobrain.
Elizabeth and Laura have both written movingly about experiencing “scanxiety”and the emotions it triggers – something so many of us identify with. And anxiety joins a list of cancer characters at The Pink Underbelly blog this week alongside our old friends hot flashes, irritability, mental fogginess and fatigue. As Scorchy writes in her latest blog…
Cancer just complicates everything. If you’re ahead of it you worry about being behind it. If you’re behind it you desperately push to get in front of it.
I always like to round up the round-up with a quote and so I leave you with a quote from Marcus Aurelius via The Sarcastic Boob.
You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Until next week.. wishing you all strength and healing.
Yours with love
Hello Marie and thanks for including a link to my ‘medical jargon’ post in this impressive list of yours! I always learn so much from your weekly selections; can’t wait to pour a second cup of coffee and sit back to read them all today (in between watching the livestream coverage of Medicine X, of course!)
Thanks for your comment Carolyn – I think this may have been one of my favorite round-ups to put together this year.
Hi Marie, We share the same cancer anniversary! Aren’t we so lucky to be still around 9 years on …. and thriving!
You’ve done a great job for all of us, many thanks.
Keep up the good work
Wow, this is a good one! As always, I’m so honored to be included, and I thank you for bringing us all together. xo
Nancy, loved the cast of cancer characters you presented to us – very familiar cast! Deirdre, so good to hear from you – it’s hard to believe that 9 years has passed on our journey!
Please remove this post. As per my daughter’s wishes.
I never fully understood my daughter’s experience until she shared this with me. I never did the ribbon thing; but was at peace with those that needed to.
Why I Won’t Be Wearing a Pink Ribbon this October
By Emily Wade
The blood draining from the bandages where my mom’s breasts used to be was vermilion, not pale pink. In fact next to the rows of prescriptions, paper measuring cups, and plastic bucket (just in case), the only things that seemed out of place in my mom’s room after her mastectomy were the joyful blush-colored ribbons that danced across the blanket draped over her worn body.
“Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon.” This is the slogan of David Jay’s SCAR Project. Jay, a fashion photographer based in New York, began the SCAR Project in 2005 as a way to reveal the real women behind breast cancer statistics, scars and all.
By presenting a collection of portraits of young breast cancer survivors, Jay contributes to what has been criticized as an otherwise jovial and misogynistic breast cancer awareness effort. A far cry from ‘save the ta-tas’, Jay’s work depicts breast cancer in a way that exemplifies the courage, dignity, and humanity of the women and men who fight this disease.
Though the SCAR Project has served as a source of community and empowerment for breast cancer survivors, has not done so without criticism. In the past year Facebook has taken down many of the SCAR Project’s portraits tagged by users as ‘offensive’ and threatened to ban the group from Facebook altogether.
Ultimately SCAR Project administrators were able to keep their Facebook group and the pictures posted on it with the help of a Change.org petition that garnered over 20,000 signatures. Yet despite the SCAR Project’s victory, it is important to examine the original categorization of Jay’s portraits as obscene or offensive. Why, we must ask ourselves, would Facebook users seek to ban the photos in the first place?
In statements issued to the SCAR Project, Facebook stated the portraits were removed due to its ‘no nudity’ policy following users marking the portraits as offensive. With no breasts or other sexual organs on display in the pictures, however, this explanation is entirely unsatisfactory.
Perhaps the user tags came from the fact that the images the SCAR Project displays make us uncomfortable. Seeing the torn, scarred chests of young women and men and pondering the stories of pain they tell is doubtlessly distressing. Yet it is our job in viewing these portraits to examine whether the discomfort we feel in looking at them comes from compassion or from our desire to brush off breast cancer as an insignificant or unreal disease.
The kind of concealment of women’s pain attempted by Facebook users is not unusual in the realm of women and disease. In her work on breast cancer and feminism Sue Wilkinson states that society expects that women will continue to fulfill their societal duty as selfless nurturers while undergoing breast cancer treatment. Moreover, she states, women are also expected to conceal their pain and any “unseemly evidence of the illness” from those around them. Women must do this, Wilkinson claims, so that women’s suffering does not distress others and interrupt their conception of the women in their lives as brave and infallible.
Given this analysis, it is easy to see why we as a society shy away from images of women’s pain like those represented in Jay’s photography. Instead we find it much more comforting to publicly assign badges to women’s suffering effectively concealing their pain and re-branding it in a peppy pink that embodies the gleeful optimism we demand from breast cancer patients and survivors.
The traditional ‘feminine’ self-sacrifice Wilkinson describes may not be problematic in all contexts. However, in the face of a disease that takes the lives of many of its victims, internalizing these concepts by always putting others before oneself may harm a patient’s ability to heal emotionally and physically or to ask for help, even when they know they need it.
My own personal experience with my mother’s recovery from a double mastectomy a year and a half ago was a testament to the strength of how societal concepts of femininity, when internalized, can hinder women’s ability to reach out and recover.
I was sitting on my mom’s bed when she took her post-op bandages off for the first time. She, determined not to ask any more of me, attempted to remove the wrappings herself in the bathroom. After a few minutes passed she slowly pulled back the door and dejectedly asked me for help.
As I aided my mom in removing her bandages, a tear rolled down my cheek.
“It’s not that bad, is it?” she half -joked through glossy eyes.
I didn’t know how to explain to my mom that my tears were caused not by her torn flesh, but by the heavy heart that lay beneath it. I knew that she genuinely needed my help. Yet I also knew that even after all of the surgeries, the hardest suffering for her to bear was having to ask me for it time and time again.
So I replied the only way I knew how: “No, mom,” I said, “it looks really good.”
Since that May I have often wished I had done more to express my love for my mom in that moment of vulnerability. I am particularly reminded of that summer in October which brings with it both my mom’s birthday and National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Looking forward to this month I hope to honor my mom in my thoughts and actions. You can be sure, however, that I will not attempt to do so by wearing a pink ribbon.
Jennifer, thank you for sharing your daughter’s story – I’d like to turn into a guest post with your daugher’s permission – make sure more people get to read it. Would that be ok?
This is a great round up Marie. I love the way you threaded everyone together as we enter the changing season. I have some catching up to do. xoxo – Susan
Thank you for putting together another round-up, Marie, and for including my post. Grateful.
It’s lovely to be included in this round-up and to see lots of friends here. Thank you. I’d also like to brag a little about you, Marie, and include here the link to your excellent talk on the rise of the ePatient, which you delivered this week, in case anyone missed it! xoxo, Kathi http://youtu.be/9yQ_Nf17XVM
Marie, I am sorry for your loss of your mother. xoxoxo
Kathi, I was so happy to see you writing again and thanks for your kind words. Elizabeth, thank you too for your words of sympathy
Thank you so much Marie, for again putting together the essential guide to the brest cancer blogosphere, and for your beautiful kind words 🙂 (((hugs)))
Thank you so much, Marie, for your faithfulness in making these weekly postings of our favorite bloggers’ posts. xox
Thank you so much for these weekly updates. I have appreciated them (and your other posts) silently for months but finally am leaving a comment. You, these bloggers and others inspired me to start a blog myself called Elevated Risk and I posted for the first time this week. The timing with Breast Cancer Awareness Month (for all its faults) and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week was particularly serendipitous. Thank you again for all you do.
Meant to include a link in my comment — I’m at http://elevatedrisk.wordpress.com/
Linda how wonderful to hear from you and thank you for sharing your blog with us. Warm welcome to the blogosphere – looking forward to following your writing.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts esp the weekly round up. I too write a blog iwillsurvivenc.blogspot.com/ about my journey through breast cancer with two young kids in tow, leaving tips as I go along. I’ve now got one more chemo treatment to go so trying to remain positive and then on to the radiotherapy.
Thanks for such a fab blog
Hi Nicola, thanks so much for sharing your blog – looking forward to checking it out. Keep counting down those treatments x