Weekly Round Up – The Christmas Is Coming 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.

‘Tis the week before Christmas..actually it’s even closer to Christmas than I can believe, particularly as this year I am spending it in unseasonably hot weather, and I don’t have to do anything Christmassy. The pressure is off me, but not so for everyone. So let me share some tips for dealing with holiday stress that I have found on the internet this week. Amit Sood, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician and stress management expert has some excellent tips to help you cope in this article; while Dr Brian Stork,  Lifehacker and the Huffington Post advise on a strategy of mindfulness to see us through the holiday season.

I am grateful for those of you who took the time to put together summaries of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference presentations. I tried to follow along on Twitter, but with something this important, you need more detail than a 140 character tweet can provide. Both Susan and Lisa De Ferrari attended as  patient advocates and have written clear summaries which I found very useful; equally helpful is this series of articles by Dr. Susan Love and blog posts by Dr. Robert Miller and Dr. Julie Gralow on the #BCSM website; also Kathy La Tour comments on survivorship on the Cure Today website. The official press releases issued by SABCS can be found on their website.

Of course while this research is welcome, if you want to really understand the impact of cancer as it is lived each day turn to patient blogs. Beth has a post detailing the effect of Aromatase Inhibitors on her body, and while the research may recommend exercise for joint pain, Beth points out the difficulty in exercising when in pain. Scorchy writes starkly and honestly of the reality of living with stage IV breast cancer and takes issue with the term chronic disease.  Chris shares the heart-rending reality of cancer treatment for one patient with non Hodgkins Lymphoma.  The reality of living with the lymphedema  side effect of cancer is dealt with on Helensamia’s blog. Rachel Pappas writes about her experience of cancer survivorship on the Living Beyond Breast Cancer website, and Laura writes this week about chemo-brain and forgetting her chemoversary – is it a sign of progress or memory loss?

There are  many different ways to tell our cancer story and while we won’t always see it the same way ourselves, we should respect each other’s right to do so.  One of the most persistent divisions among us is the cancer is a blessing vs cancer is a curse divide. And just as I wrote those words, I discovered a tweet from comedian Will Farrell “There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide everybody into two kinds of people, and those who don’t”. Oh dear, guess I am one of the first kind.

Nancy is quite emphatic that she does not, nor will she ever see it as a gift, and it’s hard not to agree with her reasons why, particularly when she writes of her mother and friends being taken by this relentlessly cruel disease. Like Nancy I don’t see any gift in losing my mother to brain cancer either or the beautiful friends I have come to know online like Rachel only to see them stolen from us too soon by cancer. And it is hard not to disagree with the Pink Underbelly when she points out that repeated adversity “chips away at pieces of your soul. It slowly yet painfully tugs at the very essence of who you are.” I’ve felt like that too.  But while I don’t see cancer as a gift and I do feel ground down at times when the same disappointment of another lost pregnancy stares me in the face, I do try not to let this be my defining story, for that makes me feel like a victim of life (it’s a role I find very easy to slip into).  This is not a position everyone will agree with and I am not saying this is easy. It takes a huge effort of will and  I frequently rail against the lesson. I certainly don’t see the opportunity when I am in the midst of a crisis and truth be told sometimes I never find it (particularly when it comes to my pregnancy losses – nope, still haven’t found the blessing there, and don’t anyone dare tell me I am lucky to be able to travel, free to do what I want without the burden of children!)  I loved Elizabeth’s take on the issue. She also believes it can be an opportunity for growth but quotes a psych student’s reaction to stress as “Oh great! Another fucking growth experience!” I laughed out loud reading this. It pretty much sums up my feeling too. And I also loved reading Dr Ann Becker-Schutte’s  post on the winter solstice and her reflection on the light and dark that makes up our lives.

Philippa is already working on the three words she will focus on to guide the year ahead. This is an annual tradition in the blogosphere and Philippa is one of its most faithful proponents each January. I am looking forward to seeing her final choice.

I was overwhelmed by love and inspiration when I read Catherine’s latest blog. Catherine is a truly remarkable young woman. I know the words courage and grace are overused these days, but honestly I can’t think of words that describe her more – except perhaps beautiful and loving and loyal. She has been a shining light in the blogosphere this past year. Despite the crap that has landed on her, the crushing disappointments she has faced, she wrote and published her book, continued to blog and to leave encouraging comments on our blogs. She is a huge inspiration to me and just knowing there are people like her in the world makes it instantly a better place.

Finally this week Audrey shares a beautiful and timely reminder to enjoy the precious things in life – sentiments echoed by Fiona in words I just had to share with you as the perfect way to end this week’s round-up:

If it’s not bought by now, it won’t be.

It’s not wrapped, I may get round to it.

None of that is the important stuff.

It’s all about the caring and sharing (could I get a job as a card cliché writer?), the being together, making time, having fun, making memories.

Warmth, cosiness, enveloping hugs. Lazy days, walks and cuddles. Holidays. Yeah

Until next week,

Wishing you a joy-filled and peaceful Christmas wherever you are in the world.

Yours with much love

Marie xxx