Posts tagged with 'blogging'

Life and Death with Stage IV Cancer: Losing another of our blogging community

  • Posted on March 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm


Like me, Lisa Bonchek-Adams was a stage IV breast cancer patient. She died Friday, March 6, 2015, of her disease. Lisa requested that any donations in her memory be made to her fund for breast cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Lisa’s demise threw me for a loop. It saddens me in so many ways, most of all because she was a fellow blogger who didn’t mince words about her life under and after treatment. She was bold in her writing and met her challenges with aplomb and spunk.

I wish I could speak out the way she did, influencing thousands of people across the globe. Due to radiation and the accumulation of toxic chemo assaults, I haven’t the energy nor finger dexterity to write a blog post even once a month. The chemo has taken its toll on my typing skills as well as my endurance to sit at a computer for more than 30 minutes at a time.

But Lisa, compassionate above all else, wanted her readers to know the details of her day-to-day challenges. We have all learned from her experiences, whether virtual or in person. I am glad she was surrounded by her family at the end. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that loved ones are there to hold us as we breathe our last.

Now that the cancer has spread to my brain, I am less optimistic about my overall survival time. I want to plan for travel and entertainment while I am still able, yet I am not sure what the future holds. At least medicine, even in the stage IV setting, has advanced in the past few years. It isn’t progressing as fast as breast cancer advocates would like,  but it helps to know, for example, that the gold standard for treating brain metastasis has changed due to ongoing clinical trials and meta-analyses. Knowing this has encouraged me as I look back on the stereotactic radiosurgery that I recently received. And if I live long enough, more advances will change the landscape further. The best organization that pushes for more stage IV cancer research is METAvivor, an organization dedicated to those who are beyond the “pink” stage in their diagnosis.

In the meantime, my faith keeps me strong and focused, and I rely on God to sustain me even as I walk through the shadow of the Valley of Death. We will all reach that Valley; it’s just a matter of time.

Lisa, we will miss you and your words of wisdom. We cherish the memories of your incredible blog posts and interviews with the press. If anyone has had influence on the medical community of breast cancer, it is you. Rest in peace, dear one.

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Day 30 #HAWMC: Word Cloud

  • Posted on April 30, 2012 at 9:32 am

It’s Day 30 of the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month, in which participants are directed to write each day about a health issue. 

Today’s Prompt: Word Cloud

A picture is worth a thousand words.  For today’s post we’re going one further and putting your words into an image, a word cloud or tree representing YOUR health focus, interest, or passions.  Write down some of your favorite topics off the top of your head or review the tags in your blog post for some surprises.


This exercise has sparked my imagination in ways I never expected. Just creating posters, pictorials and infographics proved to be enlightening assignments. I’ll miss the creativity of each daily prompt, but not the pressure of presenting a fresh, original post each morning. Like fellow bloggess Marie, I will welcome resuming  the familiar schedule of my day. I thank my fellow WEGO challenge bloggers without whom I couldn’t have completed this exercise: Marie, Renn and Yvonne. Congratulations to them for having the courage and fortitude not only to take up the gauntlet, but to complete the challenge in its entirety.

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Day 15 #HAWMC: Writing Style

  • Posted on April 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

At day 15 of the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month, we participant bloggers have reached the halfway point.  

Today’s prompt asks us to describe our writing style. Now that we have been writing for 15 days straight, we must have some patterns or trends we follow. Questions to ponder on this topic include how the words flow from mind to keyboard, do we handwrite first, do we plan our posts, when do we pick the title, and where do we write best.

My ideas flow from several sources, planned or unexpected. Sometimes they are sparked by other blog posts I’ve read from Google Alerts or bloggers whom I follow regularly. Ideas also originate from conversations I’ve had with friends and family during the week or from hikes or biking trips I’ve taken. A few times my instructors in watercolor painting and creative writing have nudged me to prepare a post on what I’ve learned in class.

Once a promising topic pops into my mind, I create a draft post with a title. In the space for inserting text or photos, I type a few sentences or paste a few links, just as Marie in Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer does. This draft post serves as a placeholder. As the spirit moves and the muse prods, it’s easy to go back to it, flesh it out, edit it and polish it into a final piece. Sometimes I add pictures or videos right away. But other times I add them later as I find just the perfect image to accompany the piece I am writing. And sometimes I upload photos fresh from a trip memorialized by my camera. These images tell the whole story. As authors of children’s books know well, pictures can definitely be worth a thousand words.

I’m not one who normally handwrites first. It’s much faster for me just to put fingers to keyboard and type away. My most useful course in high school was typing. I had no idea at the time how useful this skill would be as technology grew into what it is today. Where would we be without keyboards? The only time I write longhand is when I find myself waiting for something to happen and don’t have a laptop or i-pod available.

For example, just this week the idiot light came on in my car–and stayed on. While I was waiting for the mechanic to find the source of the problem, I walked to a nearby diner. All I had was a John Grisham book and a scratch pad. Because my creative writing course was taking place an hour from then, I started writing out sonnets in long hand on the lined paper, ignoring my page-turner hardcover. I haven’t put writing assignments to paper in an eon. Crossing out words and inserting others felt foreign to me, like I was living in a developing country. I could hardly read my own edits when I was done. But it worked. By the time I got to the course, I had rewritten the sonnet out completely so that the instructor could actually read it.

When I create a post I usually select the title first to remind me of the topic I’ve chosen. But often I change the title as the theme evolves. Bloggers will often find that the post has a mind of its own, like a fictional character you create who takes off in a direction you didn’t plan for.  A title that struck me as clever or punny when I first wrote it doesn’t necessarily work after I have put the finishing touches on the post.

I write best in the morning, after I’ve had a few cups of coffee and a solid breakfast, usually oatmeal and fruit. I’m at my most alert state then. But life has a habit of getting in the way, and I don’t always get to create a post at that time. So if I sit down to type in the afternoon, I’ll drink green tea to restore my energy.

When I write, I sit in my rolling office chair in a spare room at a desk where my computer resides.  I like quiet and solitude in this state, so Pandora or any other source of music is turned off. As I type away, my stream of consciousness will often kick into gear until I get to a point where I need to go back and read the whole piece again. When the post is done and I click the “Publish” button, relief washes over me.

But more important than relief, happiness and healing spring forth from knowing I’ve completed another published work that might help others.

What’s your style of writing? Whatever it is, keep on keeping on. It’s a balm.


Cancer blogs become part of treatment

  • Posted on March 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

People are finding that blogging is helping people cope with their cancer illnesses.  When I was first diagnosed, phone calls, group emails, and snail mail were the main means to get the word out to friends and relatives.  I used private journaling as a therapeutic outlet.  For lymphedema I used a listserv (ACOR) as an online support group because finding a personal support group for this condition was difficult.  With the advent of online journaling, blogs, and social networks, the sky is the limit for informing others and obtaining needed social support.  The latest article on this phenomenon is at   Blog on!  Jan.