Wednesday, November 9, 2011

25, 000 Pageviews

Written on: Thursday, November 3, 2011

At approximately 11:10 am on Thursday, November 3, 2011 there was the 25, 000th pageview on Blue Butterfly blog. I've been waiting for this day for so long and it seems a little anti-climactic that I'm spending the moment on a train. However, it is the perfect day to receive this news as I head to Ottawa for the Young Adult Cancer Canada Survivor Conference. This will be the first year that I attend as well as the first time it will be held in the nation's capital. How fitting that both the 25, 000 Milestone and the first day of the Conference take place on the same day.

As I sit here, trying to work on my report cards (yes, I'm working on my report cards while I look at a panoramic window-view of rural Canadiana), I decided to take a break and reflect (oh, how I love to reflect) on the past almost seven months of creating this Blue Butterfly blog.

Journeying is the first word that comes to mind.

And what a journey it has been!

When I met with Endo #4 in July and he told me that it was a cure, then later he recanted in a follow-up appointment when I asked him again and he stated that I was in remission, which is what I knew all along. I used to think that remission meant a light or switch or something would have went back on and I would have resumed some feeling of normalcy. But just like any post-colonial country after its colonizers and unwanted rulers have been disposed of, things don't go back to normal after cancer. In fact, the present and future are forever changed. That former colony will always have a relationship with the former colonizer and I will always have a relationship with cancer.

This has been a shock for me.

First of all, I have had to try really hard to not adopt a "don't care about anything else" attitude. There is a period of time when some cancer survivors experience a time, possibly "depression" while they are in remission. I don't know what this period is formally called, yet when Lance Armstrong said that after he was went into remission after a year of battling testicular cancer, he went into a period of "living" as he called it, I understood. In his book It's Not About the Bike, he wished to stop cycling because it was all his life was built around and it require very hard work and commitment. Lance wanted to live and not cycle any more. He went into this period of eating junkfood, playing golf, drinking beer, and not much else. I spoke to another survivor who said that for two years of his remission, he was "lost". In Everything Changes: Getting Cancer in Your 20s and 30s, one of the survivors said that he struggled with doing chores and mundane "human" activities once he got his remission. I can so relate to these feelings. Chores especially laundry, filing, cleaning, and other tasks were never my favourite tasks but now they feel like the most depressing tasks in the world. In fact, a lot of things seem pretty dull and boring. I would much rather focus on living and doing exciting activities like cooking, blogging, spending time with my friends, writing, taking courses, reflecting, and meditating, going out and doing yoga every so often. Those are the things that I love to do. These are the things that recharge me and make me feel "alive".

Balance this with what is called the Deathbed Mentality which I first learned about in chapter 11 of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. The deathbed mentality is living each day like its your last. This concept best explains how I look at my life now. I am so aware of the importance of time that I try to fit as many activities in as I can. In some ways, my workaholic tendencies that I have been able to control, start to come back. This time it's because I am wanting to get the most out of my day, out of my time, out of my life. I wish to be so decisive, so planned, so organized as to make the most of each and every moment. I don't sweat the small stuff because I know there are much bigger things to worry about. I feel like experiencing cancer has shown me this approach to life and helped me to see death up close. I realize that any moment could be the last. I wonder, do other young people think like this? What I've found are other young adult cancer survivors who know exactly what I am talking about.

I have spoken with other survivors about these thoughts and many have told me that they have experienced something similar. The Deathbed Mortality may be considered morbid yet in some ways it is very freeing and helpful in making decisions and living in a balanced and purposeful way. These realizations are often made later in life during retirement or the twilight years (60s, 70s, 80s, and up) but rarely in your 20s and 30s. As a result, I have made a number of lists to set personal goals including my 100 Survivor Resolutions which I affectionately called, Funky Sexy Manifesto.

Some of these goals have been lifelong manifestations and resolutions (like visiting a new region/country every year), philanthropic (running to raise money for cancer, vegan cupcake bake sale), and even practical (returning to work full time, proper skin care regime, cleaning my car). Some of these goals are lifelong (like becoming a writer, a mother, getting married) and others are things I planned to do for a long time like move to a new place or travel overseas. Other resolutions are related to my relationships and still others are too personal to post.

Among all this angst, I still remain truly thankful for the chance I have been given to share my story to you my web audience. And although, I am a thyroid cancer survivor, often deemed the "best cancer" because of its high survival rate, there are still some Thy'Ca warriors who did not survive like Megan Stendenbach and Heather Anne Cunningham. Stendenbach created the Thyroid Cancer Songbook.

Rita Banach, president of Thyroid Cancer Canada, told me about something called cancer clusters According to wikipedia, a cancer cluster is: a term used by epidemiologists, statisticians, and public health workers to define an occurrence of a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time. Rita says that there is a study being conducted on cancer clusters of thyroid cancer patients. In Megan's case, after she survived thyroid cancer, she was diagnosed with breast and then ovarian cancers.

I also remember a Young Adult Cancer Canada papillary thyroid cancer warrior, Heather-Anne Cunningham who also passed away in her twenties.

I mention these two women to place their names and more legitimacy toward Thyroid Cancer than the disease has been given. There needs to be more advocacy work required to ensure that the individuals diagnosed with disease do not suffer in silence because they feel like they only had thyroid cancer. One survivor I know of is having an extremely terrible time with the side effects of thyroid cancer and treatment which have also complicated her other conditions as well. In addition, depending on the type of thyroid cancer diagnosed (papillary, follicular, medullary, anaplastic) and stage, the survival rates can vary from 7% to 100%. (How you like them apples?) I wish for all cancers to be irradicated and for no one (including the lab technician who took my blood a few months ago) to tell me that I had the good one. Thankfully, I have never heard a survivor of any cancer say this to me. We know better. Cancer is cancer and no one asks for this diagnosis.

So looking forward with my blog, I hope to continue advocating for many things, especially for thyroid carcinomas and young adult cancer. You will find more articles as usual. I also hope to incorporate interviews from survivors and other interesting folks as well as some video footage and podcasts.

You may also notice ads on this blog in the near future. With a lot of thought and consideration (and deliberation and hemming and hawing), I decided to place ads on this site. When I completed my investigation of the very dense material about ads on blogs, I realized that this was a good option especially considering that I have some additional debt to pay off from my recovery and could use the extra income. I have also decided to make a serious go as a writer (a lifelong dream and Crazy Sexy Manifesto # 29 Become a Professional Writer and no one said this artist should be starving). Plus, I have used this blog to promote great books, restaurants, and causes so I reasoned that some of this come around full circle. However, I totally encourage you to be an educated and critical consumer, ask questions and investigate the ads.

I am so very happy to have reached the milestone of 25, 000 views. I planned on making a vegan tre leche cake. Yum, yum, yum! I look forward to my next milestone of 50, 000 views. I look forward to more and more views and connecting with you, my readers. Stay tuned!!!!

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