Category Archives: blogging

July 7

Today I cannot play blogger. I am only mom. I spent the morning consoling a sweet little boy who couldn’t move because his neck hurt so bad. He cried to go to the doctor so I took him to a walk in clinic, who sent us on to Bronson for the pediatric specialists. Thankfully, our fears of meningitis were not realized and he is home but still clingy.

Today I’m thankful for good doctors who were kind to my son, and for the great doctors who put me back together so well that I held a 35 pound 3 year old ALL day and he had nice pillows to lay on.

I love being mom and I love being here on July 7, 2010 to comfort my children.

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Transparency in Blogging

Transparency.  How much is too much when it comes to blogging?  I was thinking about this yesterday after stopping by to visit little Gideon who has just been diagnosed with Leukemia.  His mom, Amanda, has been blogging and I mentioned to her that I was enjoying reading the updates through the blog.  In an apologetic tone she said something to the effect that she was too transparent.  Like she had given too much information.

I felt just the contrary about her blogging.  I was thankful she was so transparent.  I really want to know how Gideon is doing and how Tom and Amanda are holding up especially in these initial days of diagnosis. 

But even now I look back at my own blogging I worry that at times I was too transparent.  Like maybe I lacked an appropriate filter.

But every time I start thinking I’m writing nonsense, I get another email telling me how much I’ve helped someone, how much they enjoy my blog, and I keep writing.  And I keep trying to be transparent.

Here’s why I think it’s so important for Amanda to be real with us.  A few things I’ve learned along the blogging/cancer journey and how blogging benefits everyone.

1.  We want to know.  Our heart hurts for Gid right now.  He is such a sweet precious boy and we want to know how we can pray, and we desperately want to know how we can help ease the burden they carry right now.  

2.  It puts life in perspective.  It reminds us that life is short and precious.  It softens our hearts.  It helps us evaluate our priorities and put life in perspective. 

3.  It’s good for the soul I’m an extrovert.  There’s no denying I like to talk.  But even I had difficulty keeping up after diagnosis.  There were times I didn’t know what to say in person.  But I could be real with the computer screen for some reason.  I learned I could let my feelings flow and my friends were reading and responding.  We’ve been trained to answer the question “How are you,” with the proverbial answer “good.”  In person, for some reason, either I was afraid of seeing their reaction when I told them the truth, or I hit 10 birds with one stone, blogging fit for me, and it made me feel better.

4.  You never know who you might be helping by blogging.  Next week, somewhere, some mama is going to start her day, and by the end of the day she’s going to find out that her son/daughter has leukemia.  Reading blogs helps her know what to expect.  I think in some way, feeling like I was helping someone else with their diagnosis helped me get through mine.

So where do you set the filter with “too transparent?”

Here are some of my thoughts on that, because I’m of the generation that thinks “real” is good, and I’ve learned a few lessons along the blogging journey.

1.  If it will make you blush later on, you might not want to write it.  From experience I have a few of those.  But my blog dealt with breasts.  I think sometimes I wrote too much when I was on my pain meds. 

2.  If it will hurt someone, bite your tongue.  I think openness is a good thing.  But blog about yourself and be very cautious about picking out a person or group if you are angry.  Walk away from blogging for a few days if you’re tempted to vomit your disgust.  Be careful about writing about a doctor you weren’t happy with.  They are real people and they can make mistakes.  The best way to get even with a doctor is to simply find another one, not ruin their career by writing about it in open cyber-space.

So here’s the question of the day.  What attracts you to blogs?  Why do you read specific blogs?  Information, transparency, obligation?  Any suggestions I missed in this post?

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Get Some Bliss

I started twittering a few months ago.  The more I twitter, the more I like it.  Facebook is an opportunity for me to catch up with old friends and stay connected with new friends, but twitter opens me up to a whole new world.  I like that I get to meet people and learn from them in a way that I never would have before.  A lot of them write blogs.  Some of them are witty (I so wish I was witty), some redundant, some are a little obnoxious, but all have something to say and I enjoy most of them.  (OK….I don’t really care for the ones that tweet like 15 comments in a row….I call this a blog, and I would elect to follow their blog if I really wanted to, but I follow tweets on twitter.  Tweets are supposed to be short!)

So a couple of weeks ago I started seeing some women I follow tweet about something called Blissdom.  After a few days I saw it come across my phone enough that I decided to take a look.  This is what I found:

http://blissdomconference.com/  ….very pretty site, huh.  

Here is the second thing I found out.  It’s a conference for women who blog….cool, I blog. 

The third thing I found out is that it is SOLD OUT…..what a bummer!

But then, across my twitter this morning!  A small glimmer of hope!  A GIVEAWAY!  Yes!  I have a one-in-a-million chance of going, but, hey, I have played with odds before…lol.    I really shouldn’t link the giveaway site since that actually decreases my odds, but….well….I’m nice, what can I say.  I also love sharing excitement.  Fun is way better with friends. 

So here’s what I would say to the decision makers of the “Escape to Blissdom” conference if you’ve gotten to this part of my post.  My story is simple.  I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February of 2008.  I started a blog as a way to keep my friends and family informed and to write for my children because I was SURE they would be without a mom soon.  Whatever I read about IBC suggested it was not a survivor-friendly diagnosis (although chances are SO much better now!) and they had also found a grapefruit size tumor in the other breast.  I had no idea what a blog really was.  I suppose I had seen a few, but a friend of mine suggested I start one.  I had used clergygirl for my email address (I’m an ordained minister) since no one can spell my last name, so “clergygirl” fit for my cancer blog as well.

Much to my surprise I enjoyed writing.  I have thought repeatedly of quitting my blog, yet I feel compelled to write.  I look forward to writing.   In many ways it has been my creative outlet.  And going through cancer with people cheering me on and responding with love and compassion through comments always gave me a boost.  It was one of the things that emotionally got me through cancer.  When I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night I would go to my computer to write and in the morning I usually had an encouraging comment and I knew someone had prayed for me.  

Oh….and I suppose now would be a good time to say I am cancer free!.  Now I write purely to give women hope in the journey and because it makes me happy. 

I can’t say that I’m a great writer…..I’m surely not an editor…lol!  But I enjoy it enough to continue to pursue this door that God has opened for me in writing, even if it had to be through stinky cancer!   I am working on a book and plan to do more blog writing in the future.  I’d love to attend the conference, but if not….I will certainly put it on my “to do” list for next year and I’ll certainly register early!

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Kakamegathon…..say what?

I’ve started following a new blogger (non-cancer BTW).  She’s the daughter of someone I work with and I’ve been checking in lately to see how she’s doing because she’s just getting started on two things:  Blogging, and raising money by running a marathon.  And the thing I enjoy most about reading her blogs is that I don’t think she’s really figured out how to do either yet, so if you can stop by and encourage her, that would be great…..in either the blogging or the running….lol!  Here’s a bit about her cause and what she’s doing:

“I’m running a marathon to raise awareness and support for two great causes: http://www.just1person.org/ and www.fsdinternational.org/donate/projects/Pape.”

 

 

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Occupational Hazard

Here’s the deal.  If I were to read in the newspaper the word “pastor” showing her “reconstructed breast” in the same sentence I would be checking it out too….lol!   I don’t know why I find this so hysterically funny but I do.  I’m actually super glad this article came out in Chicago because if my congregation caught wind here in Michigan that I was showing my chest around on the internet I’m sure I’d be dooced. 

The whole blogging and writing about my breasts thing is sometimes a bit weird for me as “clergy” girl.  As I was talking to my plastic surgeon last time, we were discussing the implant option because I am a bit small for my size, and I told him it might just be an occupational hazard for me.  I mean, if I worked at hooters…..not so much.  But I’m a pastor and I preach and I don’t think my congregation wants Pamela Anderson in the pulpit.  Ok….so he’s not going to make me THAT big, but still….implants?   So when and if I decide to do this I will NOT be asking my church to pray for that surgery because can you imagine….everyone checking out my breasts that next Sunday.  Seriously.  It will be one of those very secretive events and because it would only be a little bit bigger I think I’d get away with it without too much distraction.  Don’t believe me?   It is so  natural for people to glance at my chest that I am becoming very used to it.  If I say I’ve had a mastectomy (glance) I then tell them I’ve had reconstruction.  And when I had my mastectomies and told someone I had just had mastectomies (glance) and was wearing my prosthetics, I always had to explain they were the fake ones.  And even now with my new reconstruction (glance) whenever I tell someone….they want to look!  We with breast cancer are very much used to the glances.    And just so you feel better, go ahead and glance, by the time I finished breast cancer treatment I was so comfortable with talking about breasts that I would flipantly throw around the word like it was as comfortable to talk about as my kids or my car.  I have to remind myself that some people just aren’t that comfortable with it. 

So I’m sorry to say, that if you came to my blog site looking to see my bare chest, well, you’re not going to find it.   Not that I really haven’t shared almost everything else in this blog, but I have not posted my breasts.  Nor is this saying that I never will.  I mean….for the sake of the greater good I might think about it.  But probably not.  There are all lines we won’t cross and nudity is that line for me.  I’m thinking my parents are pretty happy about this line I’ve drawn for myself.  I’m sure it makes them proud.  In fact, I told my parents about the article and of course they wanted to read it, so I had to email it to them and I had to write extra in the email something like this….”but Dad….I promise I did not bare my chest to the entire world on my blog.”  Because, although they are not blog readers, and this includes mine, they surely do not want to find out their daughter is going topless on the internet….lol!

And just to clarify, because I think it was a little misunderstanding, that I did in fact post a blog about my post-surgical wound after my reconstruction with pictures and it is so gross I think about taking it down everyday.  But the emails I get from people going through this tells me I should keep it up for the next gal going through this crud.

So if you are facing a DIEP flap reconstruction, I am happy to send pictures of my reconstructed breasts directly to YOU, and not the entire blogosphere.  So email me privately and I would be ever so happy to email you faceless photos….because it’s always good to know what to expect.  And I for one am totally thankful for women who sent me pictures of their body after mastectomies and for all the faceless women in the plastic surgeon’s office that helped me visually prepare for what I was going to look like.

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Tribune Article

My blog was featured in the Chicago Tribune today!  You can read the article here.

I’m Ready

I’ve had a hard time emotionally lately.   Writing anything spiritual here means I open myself up and I’m afraid it isn’t pretty.  I’m really not quite sure if it’s moving on from cancer or going through reconstruction that has set me off, but I’m struggling.  I asked my oncologist if this was normal, and she said it was “very” normal.  This made me feel better. 

I’m not even really sure how to describe what I’ve been feeling lately.   I think it might have something to do with loss.  Like leaving a job or moving.  I’m wrapping up a part of my life that kept me busy for almost a year and a half.  I lived and breathed cancer.  I grew close to people who treated me for cancer.  Now I’m free to move on.  It’s a little scary.  Everything I fought for, is now right in front of me.  I am free to make plans for the future.  I’ve conquered cancer, but now, can I achieve what I fought for….living fully.  I’m standing at the doorstep and I’m trying to decide if I should take the step I suppose.  But I’m scared. 

Life has really revolved around me for a while now.  My cancer treatment.  My health.  I needed to take care of myself, but now it’s time to move on.  One thing that has become a stark reality in the past few days is how much self-focus I have right now.   This is especially clear since reconstruction.  If you had asked me before my reconstruction, I’m sure I would have told you I would have been happy with semi-even breasts of any size and a flat tummy.  But now their here and I’m being critical.  On one hand, I’m so happy.  And then there’s a part of me that is spending an ungodly amount of time analyzing the finished product.  I’m spending too much time on the internet trying to figure out how I can have more symmetrical breasts, real looking breasts.  I suppose digger doesn’t help. because I’m forced to check-out the girls several times a day and I’m reminded they don’t look as pretty.  Not like the originals anyway. 

I’m so thankful for plastic surgery but for me I need to be careful because it’s gotten me too focused on self.  

Here’s what I read recently in Romans 9:5-6:

“For those that live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.”

So I’m going to try to turn my heart back towards the things God wants me to think about.  Loving Him, living in His Word, loving His people.  I’m going to keep blogging this journey, but at some point I may need to stop to officially be done with breast cancer.  But as long as I’m under reconstruction, I’ll keep telling you about it and how God is molding me, shaping me, and breaking me and all that I am learning through this.  Maybe it will somehow help you. 

One thing that will help me move in the right direction is that I got a job.  It’s in my field, so it’s a ministry position.  I’ll be a part-time pastor here at a local church.  When it’s officially announced I can be more clear about it, until then, I’ll just say I’m excited to be back on the job.  I love ministry and I love facilitating community and seeing lives change when people choose to walk with Christ.   And then, hopefully this fall I will start taking classes towards pursuing a nursing degree.  Many of you know I have a secret hobby of coaching couples in natural birth and I also love that.  I am hopeful that down the road I can combine my ministry and midwifery in missions oversees.  But I’m taking steps, and hoping God makes it clear exactly how he wants to use me because I’m ready.

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Make a suggestion….

My mothers with cancer blog site is gathering together for a book.  This is very exciting as I guess there is already an editor ready to put it together.  All of us are supposed to submit 5 blog posts from something we have already written.  I know some of you have been hanging out with me and checking in on me for a while and I was wondering if you could share a post you remember and liked that I wrote.  Maybe something that was moving that stands out to you.  If you can’t remember it fully you could describe it or do a search of my site.  I appreciate the help!  You can email me or leave a comment below.

New Look

Well, I keep changing my look.  I guess wordpress is having trouble with widgets and sidebars on some themes, so the new theme I chose had nothing in the sidebar.  So I’m going with a new theme that shows my links.  If you scroll to the bottom you’ll find all the links and fun stuff.  I’m not too fond of this one so we’ll see how long I keep it.

Hello World!

This is my first blog.  I won’t be daring enough to send this out until I’ve got this sort of figured out.  If you’re wondering about me…..I’m a 36 year old mom of 3 beautiful kiddos.  Charis is almost 7, Meleah is 3 and Elijah just turned 1 in January.  I’m married to a pretty cool guy named Jeremy.  We met while both working at Ichthus Christian Music Festival and were married a year later.  I knew from the day I met Jeremy that he was a great guy…..and I was right.  He has been such a strong advocate for me in ministry and now in my breast cancer fight.  That leads me to the BC.  I was diagnosed with a rare and rather serious type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer on February 3rd.  I did the usual thing….thought I had a plugged duct or mastitis for several months until I got serious about it and insisted on an appointment at my Ob office.  I NEVER ever thought it was BC.  I’m so thankful I was persistent about the appointment because we caught it early.  It’s in both breasts, but did not spread and thankfully is not in my bones, lungs or brain.  It is an extremely fast spreading cancer….quite often by the time it is found it is often too late.  Seriously.  I hope to eventually advocate so that more receptionists understand how serious IBC can be.

On another note…..I’m a birth junkie.  It has been my passion since my first daughter was born.  So you might hear me gab a bit about that here.  But mostly I think I’ll just share my spiritual reflections through this dark journey and how I’m growing and healing, emotionally and physically.  It will be good accountability for me and how God is changing me and moving me and deepening my faith in Him.

Thanks to all who read and travel this road with me.  I just feel God walking ahead of us clearing the path.

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