Despite my aversion to technology, I’ve decided to brave the blogosphere. I’m one of those people who thrives on new adventures and challenging projects, so why not give blogging a try? Besides, I have plenty of students–not to mention my own kids–who will gleefully teach me how to use this site properly. And then giggle.
This blog is an attempt of sorts to bring together the many facets of my life that might be of interest to others. Let me begin by explaining why I chose the title “Cancer hits the streets” and the kinds of musings you’ll discover on this site.
I’m a 47-year-old English professor, freelance writer, and mom. When I was 29, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and life hasn’t been the same since. At the time, my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t survive. But I did, long enough to experience cancer a second time–this go-around with two beautiful daughters by my side.
For me, cancer stirred an impulse to hit the streets, running. Why put off until tomorrow what I can do today? I don’t buy into the notion that we cancer survivors should interpret our diagnoses as “gifts,” but I do know that we learn something crucial through the experience–our lives, current and imagined, can and do change in a nanosecond. While we all recognize that this truth applies to every one of us, hearing the news that some part of your body isn’t functioning properly and might never return to normalcy brings that truth into remarkable, frightening focus.
For 17 years now, I’ve kept moving. Some may say I’m running away from what might be lurking around the next corner (or “whom,” as in an M.D. expressing concern over the results of a recent MRI). I prefer to think of myself as running “through” life–acknowledging the good and the bad and having the chutzpah to face my opponents (whether a disagreeable cellular gathering, a reluctant editor, or an aggressive bull roaming a Hindu temple–more on that later).
My journey has taken me to amazing places and led me to fascinating people. In India, I travelled through the health care system after a run-in with a bull–yes, the aggressive one. In Africa, I met women who are struggling with cervical cancer, a diagnosis that is rarely life-threatening in the United States thanks to technological advances and cultural acceptance of these advances. My classrooms are filled with bright, determined students who want to make their own mark on the world as scientists, engineers, writers, and teachers. And during the past year-and-a-half, I’ve immersed myself in a community of homeless cancer survivors who literally make their way on the streets of Birmingham, Alabama. The pace at which they walk through life while managing their disease has taught me a thing or two about what it means to be a survivor.
It’s a rich life, and I welcome you to come along for the ride.