Introducing Catherine, Claire and Clare…….

This is turning into the week of the Sisterhood!  The very Sisterhood prompted by breast cancer, enabled by the internet but brought to life by the true connections that we have. On Saturday I met Kirsty in real life, which was a rare and precious experience.

Today, I want to talk about another virtual friend – my peer, Catherine.  Catherine blogs at her own site –  Bumpyboobs as well as being one of the regular writers on Facing Cancer Together.

catherine

I am not sure when I first connected with Catherine, but I know that we found ourselves in the same batch of  bewlidered breast cancer interns appointed around the same time frame. Through our blogs, the Twitter #bcsm discussions and other online connections we soon realised that we shared a great deal more than the breast cancer catalyst which had introduced us.  No sirreeee – we have way more than that in common!  Catherine and I are both lovers of the written word, and more than that, aspiring writers.  We have both lived in countries very different to the one of our origins and embraced those new cultures with an open heart and eager eyes.  We each married a man from a different culture, with another mother tongue with the rich and beautiful family relationships which that brings.  We each appreciate and love photography and capturing those special everyday images as well as the extraordinary.

Indeed, there is a great deal more to our connection than that initial catalyst.

Catherine and I are indeed peers in the breast cancer world, our diagnoses and treatment paths were in a similar time frame.  Surrounded by a warm and caring community, we were siblings in this mire of post cancer diagnosis that we wade through. So recently, when the slow reveal of tests and diagnostics showed that Catherine’s cancer has metastised, we sisters gathered round in a bid to show our solidarity and support in any way in which we could.

And what did Catherine do?  Of course she swore a bit.  A healthy curseload of expletives and anger directed straight at cancer.  And then she set herself a goal.  A target for the coming months.  She re-evaluated the variety of plans and dreams that she has, and set herself a revised, clear target.

And that is what her Guest Post is about.  Catherine has been working on a very special project.  Of course the cancery stuff is there, meds are being trialled and the Big Thing that is a Stage 4 diagnosis is very much in the day to day.  But Catherine is not letting that take over.  She has turned her focus to a very clear and specific writing goal.

And that is the topic of an inspiring Guest Post about “Claire and Clare” which will be on Feisty Blue Gecko in the coming hours.

bumpyboobs3

We promise you more, very, very soon………

Cancer sucks – but blogging rocks!!

The past couple of weeks has been really exciting for the blog.  This Feisty Blue Gecko seems to be getting about a bit!

I remain enchanted with my map tools which take me around the world and show that FBG has been to 76 countries since I installed them, the most recent new countries being Cambodia, Bahrain, Venezuela and Romania.  Interestingly, I have been to NONE of these countries myself!

I increasingly talk about how important it has been to connect with friends in the blogging community and how much I value the insights of our shared experiences of the Cancer Beast.  This has recently led to FBG slithering into other blogs as a scaly guest.  Thanks, J for sharing my thoughts on the Cancerversary on her blog, noboobsaboutit and M for featuring some of my words on the Poetry Friday spot in her blog Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.

These latter lines describe the horrible night time worry time, post diagnosis and I know that it is something almost all of us experience.  That’s what cancer does to the mind.  It gloriously messes with it and invades waking and sleeping thought.  It has a particular strength in the night time hours.  These dark thoughts, however, proved to be the catalyst for the birth of the blog.  So I thought I would share the details of how this Feisty Gecko diversion was hatched.

From the time I found the lump last year, I would waken in the middle of the night.  Every night.  On first waking, everything would feel normal, but then the realisation that I might (and then of course, later that I did) have cancer would hit me like a metaphorical truck.  In the middle of the night, it is difficult to shake off fears and dark thoughts and things feel far more scary than they do in the light of day. And of course, you feel helpless to do anything in the middle of the night.  I would lie awake, tossing around the fears in my mind and trying to return to sleep, but in vain.  This continued after diagnosis and surgery and I started trying various tricks to divert my mind.  Music worked a bit, but I found myself composing lines of prose and even rhyme in a bid to preserve and record what I was going.  I spent those hours playing with the words, and crafting ideas and phrases to express what was in my mind.

My mind turned into a kind of incubator for words, thoughts and ideas and the solution about what to do with these formed in my mind for a good few days before I did anything about it.

The solution?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt compelled to blog about what was going on.  However, I was concerned thought that it could be too revealing, too personal and possibly too upsetting for friends and family if I downloaded everything from my mind straight onto the public domain.

My first step was to post a Facebook status update saying that my head was overflowing with thoughts and I had a compulsion to blog –

“FBG’s head is full processing all that’s going on and feeling a very strong urge to blog it – would I upset anyone if I did?”

The response was overwhelming – and unanimous – DO IT!!  And as one friend pointed out:

“Blog away! Anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable is free to not read!”

And the rest, as you would say, is history.  I had been blogging about life and work in Asia for some time, but this would be a new blog, albeit from the same Feisty Blue Gecko, which would focus on my encounter with Breast Cancer.

This new blog was hatched on 30 October last year and it rapidly took on a significance which was largely unexpected.  It took several weeks in fact to record the detail of those early days, not helped by Twang Arm, but I was also able to share the smaller details as they happened.

I have found over the last months that blogging has served several purposes.  It has helped me to rationalise everything which was happening.  I also wanted to document and record what was happening and how I felt about it, because I knew I would forget the detail and forget the sentiment.  Being so far from friends and family, it was also a way of updating the detail of what was happening.

I had not anticipated that it would be a marvellous way of connecting with so many other women in a similar position and making close, cyber friendships.  I had also not anticipated just how healing and constructive it would be through this past year.  I also believe that it did indeed “download” a lot of what was going on and prevent it from taking an unhelpful presence in my mind.  In other words, I did not anticipate how big a role it would take in my new post diagnosis life.

So when I saw this phrase last week ((I think it was on “Cancerbanter“), it leapt at me immediately.  It so beautifully communicates how these two relate to each other and to me!!  A great new motto!

 

“Cancer sucks, but blogging rocks!”