Friday, February 29, 2008

How often does one get to blog on February 29?

Every four years, actually. I suppose it is exciting, but, quite frankly, I am looking forward to March.

I know I have been lax in updating this b-log. I have been super busy with school, and, medically, there hasn't been much to report. One of the things my mom always brought up when we were discussing my blog was, "What is your purpose in writing?" I've been thinking about that: My purpose used to be to share what my life was like living with cancer. I wanted people to know that it is scary, but it isn't unmanageable. Drugs, more drugs, oh, I suppose there were some drugs, but finally the cancer was Destroyed! So now what do I have to talk about? I am still getting a bit of treatment but neither frequently nor with the same degree of toxicity as my old stuff. Now, I am more concerned with passing my classes than clearing my chemo (although the former is proving to be a wee bit trickier...) Here's the thing though. I have a whole bunch of upcoming cancer-related activities. Well, more survivor-related activities. Ever since the Globe article came out, and even dating back to the BU Today piece, I have been in touch with various people and groups about becoming more active as a young-adult survivor.

I don't want to stop writing, especially as I do have a ton of things to do in the near future. So I am revising my purpose in blogging. My purpose is no longer only to share what it's like to be 20 and living with cancer, although there will still be some of that. Now, I want to write about what it's like to be a vocal survivor as I share my experiences with different groups of people.

First example: One week from today, I will be spending the weekend at my high school Culver Girls Academy, in Indiana. A while ago, I was contacted by the Dean of Girls who asked me if I would like to be the keynote speaker at the girls' school annual Celebration of Women Convention (CWC). I will be speaking about my experiences both at Culver and post-Culver, and I am sure my cancer experiences will play into that somehow. I am nervous to be speaking to these girls, some of whom were freshmen when I was a senior in CGA. The strange thing is, I am so much older than when I graduated from high school almost three years ago. If not in age, then definitely in maturity. College, in general, matures people, and I have had one hell of a college career so far. A lot of the women I graduated with are amazing and are doing wonderful and noteworthy things with themselves. Compared to many of my classmates, I am pretty average, but I am sure I will be able to find something compelling and (hopefully) snarky to share with the girls. I know I wouldn't have been asked back to speak if I hadn't had cancer, especially if I hadn't responded so positively to cancer, but that's fine.

Much of what I will be doing over the next few months stems not from my having had cancer but from my blogging about it and being so open about what I've gone through. I want to share my insight with others. I don't want to have gone through so much and then just relegate cancer to a distant past. There are no more leukemic cells hanging out in my marrow, but cancer will always be a part of me. So I am writing about it here; I wrote a piece for a Dana-Farber patient publication (to be printed in April); I am participating in a fund-raiser for Dana-Farber and brain tumor research (check out their Website!); I somehow find myself continuously photographing events for either Dana-Farber or, this coming Sunday, the American Cancer Society. Like I said, cancer is still a huge part of my life, but now I am focusing my energies outward instead of wholly inward. I think it is a natural and good progression. So stay tuned, because there will be many more updates and events and scary public speaking engagements.

Again, thank you so much for everyone who has and may still be reading this. Be safe, be happy, and enjoy your extra day of February. Spring is so close! Peace.