Saturday, 18 July 2015

Discovering the Blogosphere

Writing this blog has kept me sane over the last, turbulent year.  I'm a firm believer that simply writing things down can make them seem more manageable - indeed studies have shown that writing can help with anxiety and grief ( The Write Way Through Cancer)

For me, sharing has made writing even more rewarding.  Horrible tests and difficult times feel less pointless if they can be blogged and can help others going through the same experience.  I love it when I see that I have had hits from all round the world, from Columbia to Japan and Russia.  If I've helped just one person prepare for a surgery through my Diary of a Mastectomy, or cheered someone through a dark day with my post on Ten Good Things About Cancer or encouraged one person facing chemotherapy with my Not so Scary Chemo Story, then it was worth sharing.

But, until recently, I was only dimly aware of the many other breast cancer blogs out there, largely because the sheer number of sites are overwhelming and difficult to navigate.  Then I discovered Marie Ennis O'Connor's great site Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer. which (among other things) includes a regular round up of the cancer posts that have moved her, inspired her or taught her something.  So I started clicking on some of the links.

Wow.  There are some awesome ladies (and the occasional guy) blogging about breast cancer out there.  I found posts that made me laugh and ones that made me cry,  posts that made me think and ones that made me yell, "Yes, that's exactly how I feel too!". 

So thank you ladies (and gents), I'm honoured to have been included in a round of up of such witty, inspirational, thought provoking writers.  And thanks, Marie, for making the Blogosphere manageable. 

I've focused exclusively on my Cancer in my blog, but one of the trends doing the rounds is to recognise the fact that we are all more than our Cancer by posting fifteen random facts about ourselves (thanks Nancy).

I'd recommend everyone has a go at this, even if you'd rather not share.  It's so easy to say glibly that we are 'more than our cancer.'  But it was only when I faced a blank page and challenged myself to find fifteen things that didn't mention the C-word that I realised quite how defined by Cancer I have become over the last year.  By the end, I had remembered that Cancer has only been one small strand of my life which has included much more exciting things... like Whale Sharks, Dr Who's TARDIS and beer. 

So here are my fifteen facts.  It was fun to write.  Try it!

1.       I've lived in six countries including Poland, Bermuda and Tanzania.
2.       I once (briefly) had a job teaching babies how to use sign language through songs.  I'm not sure how I ended up doing that because I can't sing in tune.  The babies didn't seem to mind.
3.       I have Irish parents and a son with a US passport but feel 100% English.
4.       I love scuba diving - but only in warm water.  I have no ambition to dive off British shores.
5.       I've been a serial volunteer with an eclectic selection of jobs including working with people with AIDS/HIV in rural Africa, children with cancer and a group of Afghan refugees squatting in a church.
6.       The most thrilling experience I ever had was swimming with Whale Sharks - the biggest fish in the sea.
7.       I can speak reasonable French and some Swahili but no Portuguese, despite going to Portugal every summer for the last decade.  Learning Portuguese has appeared on my New Year's Resolution List for years ...This year I will take lessons... I will, I will....
8.       I am so short sighted that I qualify for financial aid to get specs under the NHS.
9.       I hate cooking meals but love to bake especially creating cakes for my kids' birthdays - my masterpieces to date include a fairy castle, a mine craft world and Dr Who's TARDIS (which looked, though I say it myself, utterly awesome.  But, sadly, it wasn't bigger on the inside than on the outside.)
10.   I love being at home with my kids but hate the housework that comes with the job and am still looking for a better job title than the obnoxious 'housewife' as I'm definitely not married to my house.
11.   I'm the youngest of four siblings, married to the eldest of four siblings.  He's the boss.  At least, I let him think he is.
12.   My friends keep me (relatively) sane.  I have close friends who come from all over the world  (Spain, Sweden, Korea, Canada, United States, New Zealand...) and who live as expats all over the world (Zambia, Japan, Malaysia...).  I've known my oldest friend for over forty years (since we were three!)
13.   I love scary fairground rides.
14.   I'm hopeless at sport, especially ball sports (see number 8), but love to play squash because you can have a great game even if you're really rubbish.

15.   I've tried over seventy different Belgian beers and made a montage of beer labels which is hung on our wall.  I'm working on a second montage, there's a lot of wonderful Belgian beer to drink...

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