The world we live in

What a fascinating world we live in.

Scotland 2010 171

Last Monday morning, I was sitting in the departures area of Yangon airport, checking email and sipping a cup of tea when my eye caught sight of what was to become the subject of a major gecko rant.  On the other side of the world, as my day was getting underway, night had fallen where the post had originated. As my day progressed and I travelled to my next door country, my thoughts kept returning to the inappropriate nature of this post and little mini rants formed in my mind.  By the time I had checked into my hotel room in the evening, these had gathered speed to such an extent that I had to activate the offload and download function in the form of a rare, sweet rant. Within ten minutes, I was quickly reviewing the words on the page, and pressing “publish”.  I immediately felt better for this being “off my chest”.  In more ways than one! In a matter of nanoseconds, my rant was online and visible right around the planet.  Our side of the globe was in darkness, and the day was beginning across where the original post had come from.

What an amazing world we live in.

What happened next was dizzying.  I realised that the rant was attracting interest and attention by the way the stats started to rise.  However, it was late and I was soon tucked up in bed and nodding off, preoccupied and focused on the coming day.  After my usual night time bathroom visit, I peaked at the stats to see if the rant was still being read and was astounded to see that the hourly views reported hundreds of visits per hour.  Hundreds?  Mine is just a modest little blog which has a cosy space in the blogosphere.  I am delighted to have days when there are over a hundred visits, and more usually have tens of visits.  My previous record was 398 in one day and that had been a very happy day!  Now I was seeing more than that in an hour!  I almost wanted to press some magic “stop” button as this was starting to feel rather scary and out of control.  I am not sure what constitutes “viral” but I would class this as at least”ballistic”!

What a surprising world we live in.

It is not very often that I slip off my comfortable spot on the fence in this space. I much prefer to share thoughts, inspirations, experience and reflections which are less contentious.  But sometimes, there is just no choice, A rant is all that will do and rant I will.  What does not fail to surprise me however, is the attention which my rants receive in comparison with posts and writing which have been far more carefully  considered and composed.  I usually spend time thinking before writing and reviewing my blog posts, gently refining language to convey just what I wish to say.  Whereas the rants take shape very quickly and with not enough review and revision.  So for this particular one to reach so many parts of the world was overwhelming and dizzying. How ironic that a rant rattled off the keyboard in ten minutes than attracts far more attention than carefully composed poetic reflective prose.

What an intriguing world we live in.

Most of Tuesday I was offline as I worked my way through the hospital checks, so I was even more surprised that evening to see that the blog had not been at rest at all while I was disconnected.  I watched the stats soar through the evening as visits from all around the world were being logged.

Zizzing around the world

I continued to check with one wary eye into Wednesday and the stats continued to rise.  My regular viewing numbers had all but disappeared against this sudden and unusual high level of activity.

stats

In that first day alone, there were over 4000 views.  This continued and within 3 days the rant had ranted in over 60 countries (the figures below are a 24 hour snapshot). Astonishingly there had been more visits in those 72 hours than the blog had welcomed in the whole of 2010! I have to admit that I was really rather relieved when the views started to slow down.  It is a strange sensation knowing that your words are being read by such a variety of people and you realise just how vulnerable and exposed we are online.

# Country ↓ Last 24h (21:00 – 21:00) Current Hour Complete Interval
Pages Hourly Pages Cities Pages
Min Pages Max Pages Avg Pages Min Cities Max Cities Avg Cities
1  Vietnam 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
2  United States 2,647 10 273 110.29 7 174 75.92 157 107 2,804
3  United Kingdom 284 0 53 11.83 0 32 7.13 33 16 317
4  United Arab Emirates 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
5  Turkey 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 1 1 5
6  Thailand 42 0 11 1.75 0 2 0.54 4 1 46
7  Switzerland 15 0 4 0.63 0 3 0.54 0 0 15
8  Sweden 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 1 1 2
9  Spain 7 0 3 0.29 0 3 0.25 1 1 8
10  South Africa 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
11  Singapore 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
12  Puerto Rico 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
13  Portugal 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
14  Pakistan 3 0 1 0.13 0 1 0.13 0 0 3
15  Oman 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
16  Norway 3 0 2 0.13 0 2 0.13 0 0 3
17  Nicaragua 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
18  New Zealand 8 0 2 0.33 0 2 0.33 0 0 8
19  Netherlands 11 0 2 0.46 0 1 0.42 1 1 12
20  Myanmar 17 0 6 0.71 0 2 0.38 0 0 17
21  Mexico 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
22  Malaysia 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
23  Lithuania 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
24  Korea, Republic of 4 0 2 0.17 0 1 0.13 0 0 4
25  Kenya 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
26  Japan 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
27  Italy 11 0 4 0.46 0 3 0.38 0 0 11
28  Israel 10 0 7 0.42 0 1 0.13 0 0 10
29  Ireland 11 0 4 0.46 0 3 0.33 1 1 12
30  Indonesia 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
31  India 5 0 1 0.21 0 1 0.21 0 0 5
32  Iceland 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
33  Hungary 3 0 1 0.13 0 1 0.13 0 0 3
34  Hong Kong 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
35  Guyana 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
36  Guernsey 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
37  Germany 12 0 3 0.50 0 2 0.42 0 0 12
38  France 12 0 3 0.50 0 2 0.42 0 0 12
39  Finland 3 0 2 0.13 0 1 0.08 0 0 3
40 ?? Europe 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
41  Egypt 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
42  Dominican Republic 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
43  Denmark 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
44  Cyprus 2 0 1 0.08 0 1 0.08 0 0 2
45  Costa Rica 2 0 2 0.08 0 1 0.04 0 0 2
46  Chile 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
47  Canada 145 0 20 6.04 0 14 4.75 1 1 146
48  Bolivia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 2
49  Bermuda 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
50  Belgium 27 0 10 1.13 0 6 0.88 0 0 27
51  Bangladesh 4 0 1 0.17 0 1 0.17 0 0 4
52  Bahamas 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
53  Austria 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1
54  Australia 37 0 7 1.54 0 5 1.17 2 2 39
55  Afghanistan 1 0 1 0.04 0 1 0.04 0 0 1

What an astonishingly interconnected world we live in.

Scotland 2010 171

If I had been diagnosed ten or more years earlier, there would have been little or no online community.  My breast cancer world would have been so much smaller and more contained.  Now we have Facebook, Twitter and all manner of communication on devices which we carry around with us.  With one click, a thought or rant is sent over the blogosphere, scattering and sharing the words we key in, to land in the most unexpected dusty corners of the planet.

What an incredible world we live in.

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October – a pause for perspective

Sometimes there is a moment, or a prompt and your heart stops.  Your mind pauses. And you are reminded of those things which are truly precious.

Reading this poignant and humbling comment on my “Before….” post last week brought one such pause to me, so much that I have been compelled to lift this and share it here.

How wonderful we have the benefit of sharing our stories, especially the ones that harken back to the day when life as we knew it changed us forever. and though those stories are stark and sobering, the emotions so cataclysmic, it is good to take what we can from them to see how far we have come; to honor the day for the changes we’ve been put to task for -to realize that every drop of rain is a miracle, every fragrance sniffed from a flower is beauty we can apply as a balm to our psychic and physical wounds, and that each new day brings with it possibilities that can also alter our thinking, our feeling, and enhance our sense of gratitude for this incredible cyber community, all those who GET IT. some might sum all that up and simply say that misery loves company. but we know better – that living with grace under fire, still being able to reach out and embrace and help so willingly to share the burdens of those who struggle with much of the same wounds with love and support, listening, compassion, empathy and a fine-honed sense of hopefulness that can uplift, inspire, and soothe, and give respite to others’ hurting hearts. we hold onto one another, fill the universe with powerful and enduring caring and love – and know we are not alone.

Thank you, Karen for your wise and heartfelt words, and for bring love and light into our lives.  I wish you that very compassion and virtual companionship  with the grace that you gift to us as you move along such a tough path yourself.

bathed in monsoon droplets

Thank you.

The easiest New Year’s Resolution – please think about this……

Can it really be a year since I posted this?

Indeed it is.  And although I am reluctant to repeat myself, I am again compelled to encourage you to think very seriously of a very simple New Year’s Resolution.  It is very easy to keep – unlike those resolutions to give up smoking, drinking or to lose weight – all of which are also important, but so hard to keep.

Whether or not you are thinking of a New Year Resolution, I have one to suggest.  It will not astound you that it is breast cancer related.  It will probably not even surprise you that it is pretty much the same as last year’s suggestion.  But that is because it is so important.  And so so easy.

October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month, but once you are diagnosed every month is Breast Cancer Awareness month!  And similarly, breast cancer does not decide to manifest itself around October.  Hence the importance of awareness, screening and self examination and a resolution for YOU! And that includes you men folk too!  Breast cancer may be very rare in men, but it is not unheard of so you should also be aware.  You also have a role to play in encouraging and supporting the women in your life (as appropriate) to carry out regular checks.

Just to make it all the more doable, I have some special gifts for you.  Firstly from my own lovely Dr W of my hospital in Bangkok is a helpful article which describes how and when to carry out a self examination, and what signs to look for.  This guidance is from the hospital itself.

It is also crucial to know that symptoms are not confined to “finding a lump” – there are a number of warning signs.  Please check these out here.  Of course these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer, but they should be checked out.  It is far better to be reassured than to miss an early sign.

And to round off, I have to give attention to perhaps the latest – the launch of new i-technology to support examinations.

Right then!  You have enough information so no need for excuses!  This has to be the easiest resolution to keep  so I really do urge you to adopt it.

A very Happy New Year to you and yours!

A letter to Cancer for my Cancerversary

Dear Cancer

It is a year since you came into my life and it’s about time I told you what I really think.

You were uninvited.  And unwanted.  And unexpected.  You have changed my life beyond belief and it really will never be the same again.

I had no choice about your unwelcome arrival, you didn’t give me any chance to opt in our out.  You were just there.

The first time I realised you might be there I remember a terrible fear. It was late September and I remember thinking that I would not see that Christmas.  The thought of you kept me awake at night, my mind veering between hope that there was another medical reason for your symptoms, and sheer terror that indeed you were the cause.  I admit I had never really thought that you would try and invade my life, after all you have not troubled our family before and I naively thought that you preferred certain genetic and family traits.  So when I was told that you were there I was shocked and surprised.  And terrified.

You are such a destructive force and that meant I had to endure destructive treatments.   For my survival I was trapped in an overwhelming battle between massively destructive powers. I had to lose parts of myself to cut you out of my body. My body hosted a long and violent battle between you and the toxic chemotherapy and the rays of radiotherapy as they sought out any trace you might have hidden as a seed for the future.  I know that I was left sick, exhausted and very weak but that was worth every ounce of suffering to know I tried everything in the hands of the powerful team I have to banish you.

While this has taken me through a horrible journey, when I have had numerous side effects, lost my hair, caught pneumonia, lost much of the use of my left arm and generally felt very ill, it has brought me some special things too.  The relationships with those near and dear have grown and strengthened and we have cherished time which we might otherwise have squandered.  While it was my body which you invaded, you touched the lives of many beside me with your heavy dark hand.  I have had to face up to some horrible and unpleasant procedures and been able to find a strength and resilience that I had no idea I possessed.  I have connected with many other women all around the world whose lives you have also invaded and we have shared the most private of details from the terrifying through to the hilarious.  We have laughed at your expense, even though we acknowledge that you have had possibly the bigger laugh.  Time will tell if you have the last one.  While I value and treasure these factors which I found through you, don’t get any ideas that this might endear me to you.  No, I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO LIKE YOU!  I get your point and I will continue to do everything possible to keep you as far from me as possible.

I am still frightened of you because you are such a destructive and determined force. You are also horribly sneaky and I know how powerful you are.  I know that I have always to be vigilant because I don’t know when or where or how you might try another attack on me.

I resent you because I am no longer able to think of the future without worrying about you coming back.  I resent you because I now live my life through what I call the “cancer lens”.  Even if I don’t need to take you into account in what I do, you have changed the way I see everything. You could say that instead of seeing life through rose tinted spectacles, I see through pink breast cancer spectacles.  I might not particularly like it, but I recognise, accept and live with it.

So I will be keeping a very keen eye open for any attempts you make to sneak back into my life.  And trust me, if you do try any comeback, you will be treated to exactly the same welcome.

Yours candidly

One Feisty Blue Gecko