This will be the third year that I’ve participated in Nancy’s Point‘s blogging challenge a/k/a blog hop and I’ve greatly enjoyed the experience every year! If you want to read those previous posts, you can access 2019 and 2020. Meeting new people and connecting with other bloggers across different disciplines keeps us connected as a blogging community and as people — some of the people I’ve only ever “met” online has been life changing and I’m grateful for that.
1. Who are you? Tell us your genre, how long you’ve been at it, who or what inspires you or whatever you want us to know.
I remember my very first meeting of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) when my eldest was still very little. We were asked to introduce ourselves and share about our family. Being a super new mom, I told them all about my siblings and my parents. I look back on that and it was a hugely defining moment for me when my “family” changed from my birth family to my husband and new son. Now, when I introduce myself, my kids are definitely first!
So, I’m a mom of two amazing boys, now 6 and 8. My husband and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage. We’re a multi-racial family, something that defines so much of how we approach and do life together. Presently, we live with my parents in Miami, Florid and have since 2017 when we moved from Orlando, Florida. While I was born in Ohio, we moved to Florida in 1996 when I started college and, after I attended law school in Virginia, I realized that I’d become a Floridian and needed that sunshine to live. So, I came back and have practiced law in Florida ever since.
I am also living with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).
While I have always been a writer, after law school my writing focused on legal and technical issues and I’d really stopped writing for fun or enjoyment. One of the silver linings of having a terminal illness that stripped away my career is that I’ve gotten back to those things that feed my soul and keep me connected to myself. Writing is cathartic, when I write, I’m able to get in touch with the issues that are clogging up my heart. I’ll never get away from all the time practicing law, though, and that comes through in how I organize my posts and how I think.
My blog is all about living out loud with MBC and grappling with the things that come along with this living while dying thing. I am inspired by my experiences and what I deal with daily as a forever patient.
2. What’s been your biggest blogging roadblock this year and did you come up with a way to get around it? (If you didn’t, that’s okay too. We’re here to support you.)
Earlier this year, I was in a great deal of pain from an issue in my jaw. Just search BIONJ, which stands for Bisphosphonate Induced Osteonecrosis of the Jaw, on my homepage and you can read all about it in excruciating detail. Because of the pain, I was taking a lot of narcotics and I was completely out of it. No motivation, wanted to sleep all the time, and was a pill to be around. Until my surgery in June, I’d declined in a lot of ways. It was hard to write, it was hard to keep my eyes open and nothing much worked until I was able to get off of the narcotics once my pain had been managed by surgery. Doing anything consistently is a challenge with a disease that can take a turn for the worst at any point. I’d had some extra posts built up so my struggle wasn’t apparent for a bit, but then it was more apparent.
If you notice that a blogger has stopped postings or begins to post irregularly, check on them. It’s important.
3. What’s something you accomplished with your blog this year that you’re proud of?
A few months ago, some of the women in the MBC Community decided to attack another member, convinced she was a con artist and had not only been faking her disease but also scamming others out of funds. I wrote a post calling for empathy from the community and it was picked up by an MBC organization and shared more publicly. While this issue hasn’t been resolved and there are some really devastating divisions within the MBC community, I am proud that my call for a kinder gentler way of communicating with each other in the community was read and shared. You can read more about how Hurt People Hurt People in my post.
4. What are a couple of your best blogging tips?
First, I think the main thing is to be authentic. We are all unique human beings with a unique perspective. No matter the subject matter or issue, how we see and interpret the world has tremendous value and is worth sharing.
Second, I think it’s key to connect with other bloggers. We’re the ones on these platforms regularly and commenting on and sharing other’s posts is a great way to get more exposure and connect with different audiences.
Third, just keep going. Blogging regularly can be daunting and each post can often feel like work, yet the more we post and the more we interact with others, the greater our reach.
5. How do you handle negative feedback or comments?
When I was actively practicing law, I worked mainly with those who were getting divorced. As such, my client had to interact with a variety of people in writing. My advice to them, which I try to implement now, was to picture someone who they respected when they responded to any communication. If the response wasn’t appropriate for a boss or beloved grandparent or spiritual advisor, then it shouldn’t be sent.
I was thinking about this advice the other day and it is telling that I never suggested that they think about walking in the other person’s shoes or to respond how they would want to be treated — I think people who are hurting have the most difficulty with this sort of thing. For those of us in the cancer community or any kind of intractable, incurable illness, we are hurting. And it’s pretty impossible to get away from that entirely.
6. Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written RECENTLY (since last year’s challenge perhaps) that you want more people to read.
We lose over one hundred men and women to MBC every day in the US. Every single day. One such loss was my dear friend, Emily Garnett. Last month, I was able to travel to NY to honor her and some of the other women we have lost to MBC and I wrote about that experience here. One day, others will be writing about me and my legacy and I think it is vitally important to we never forget those amazing people that MBC has stolen from us and work hard to ensure that they are the last.