She has changed my life

The She in this story is a many-faceted being. She is the Blogosphere, BabyCenter’s Bulletin Board posters and the greater internet family of lurkers.

From the Internet’s inception (thank you Al Gore? Ha!) I have been infatuated. I knew she was the best thing since sliced bread. I knew I would never be lonely or bored or lack for information again. I was it’s her biggest promoter amongst the older women I worked with who couldn’t see it’s usefulness. “You want to know who was in that movie? Why let me look it up on the internet for you.” Click, click, click, click. “It was Lorne Greene. Anything else you need to know?”

In February 2004, however, our casual relationship became serious. I was 6 weeks into my third pregnancy (#2 ended in miscarriage at 11 weeks) when my fallopian tube ruptured as I drove myself to the ER. It had been an ectopic pregnancy. I was devastated. Not only had I lost a second child but at 38 years old I had also lost one of my fallopian tubes and half my chances of conceiving. I was not in any high risk groups so I was also confused. I turned to the internet looking for answers.

I stumbled across BabyCenter’s Bulletin Boards doing a simple search. I lurked a bit reading other women’s experiences that sounded so much like mine. I read the caring, thoughtful responses and knew it would be safe to ask my questions there. That was the beginning of a relationship with a group of women that still exists today. They supported me and comforted me through negative pregnancy tests, charting my cycles and lamenting my advancing age. We cheered each positive pregnancy test and cried for each loss. I met my best friend, C, on that board. We talked on the phone daily for 2 years before we ever met in person. Daddy-O used to call her my imaginary friend.

In fact, C was the second person I officially told about my cancer diagnosis. I felt bad for it too because her best friend had died of the exact same disease (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) just a few years before. All of this, my diagnosis, etc., was before we had even met. She cried with me. She researched with me. She talked me down from panic when I tried to read my own CT Scans in my car on the side of the road. No real, “flesh and bones” friend could do any more than that.

I continued to post with my BabyCenter buddies through my cancer treatment. It wasn’t until I was back to work that I discovered blogging. By then all my BC friends had had their kids, as had I. Most of them were SAHMs, though, and I was back to work. It was a little harder to connect. C, sent me a link to a blog post my Amalah that was hilarious. From there I clicked on links in her blogroll. Soon I was clicking my way through the Blogosphere meeting the most amazing women. They were witty, intelligent mothers with things to say. Their lives became the highlight of my day.

Soon, I decided to start my own blog. I’ve never told anyone this before. My friends and family probably think I started a blog because I like to hear myself talk or can’t stand not to be in on a trend. The honest truth, though, is that I was looking to the future. I thought it would be a great place for everyone to be able to check on my condition when my cancer metastasized. Ha! How’s that for borrowing trouble? Of course my attitude has changed a bit over the last year or so. Now I say, “Just call me 10%, Baby!!!”

Through my blog, I met Susan from Toddler Planet, and Judy from JustEnjoyHim and from Toddler Planet so many others. I made a point to make myself available for questions and answers when Susan was going through chemo. I wanted someone to benefit from what I’d already been through. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is so rare there are no other cases in my immediate area. I tried to do the same with Judy. And Sarah from Spruce Hill. By that time, however, I was getting really busy at work and at home. It was getting really hard to keep up with all the individual blogs.

I really felt the loss. I was missing out on so much. Things were happening in the lives of these women, they were sharing important medical information and research they had found or been given, they were increasing awareness for IBC and I was out of the loop.

There is so much information in the internet’s vast resources, which cross borders and domains, one surfer cannot possible hope to access it all. But a network of bloggers with a common quest, sharing knowledge gleaned from her myriad sites, can increase their understanding exponentially. More importantly, That same network will expand that insight to their readers and so on and so on. Wasn’t there a commercial like that once?

I could go on and on. I could talk more about my son’s rare genetic condition, Norrie’s Disease, that caused his blindness. It is so rare that most eye doctors have only maybe heard of it. His specialist treats kids from the entire western half of the US & Canada. Through the wonderful, wonderful internet I am in contact with specialists, parents and adults with the disease through another bulletin board and Family Connect. In another time I would have no information about Norrie’s. I would have no glimpse into D’s future. I would not benefit from the experiences of parents who have come before me.

Oh, she has changed my life, alright. The internet has given me friends and family, information and peace of mind, strength and hope. I want to share it with everyone! That’s what the internet is all about. That’s what Mothers With Cancer is all about.

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6 Responses to She has changed my life

  1. sprucehillfarm says:

    Stella you just said it all! Good post. I am not sure where I would be right now with out blogging! 🙂

  2. I also feel ithat blogging has linked me to an increadible “other” world.

    I started blogging to keep my close friends and family up to date with my medical situation. On a whim, I decided to open the blog to anyone who was interested, even strangers.

    As a result of blogging, I have met so many interesting people, some who I have since met in person, others who I have not….yet.

  3. whymommy says:

    Atta girl. I heart you, Imstell. I’m getting so many ideas here on how to make this place EVEN BETTER. This is going to be a haven for mamas who have or have had cancer. I know it is. Let’s start dreaming, ladies … and then find the folks to help make it happen!

  4. Stella, I love your writing style and your sense of humor. I think that our group is a great representation of the many cancers out there. We are all different, our cancers all have differences to them, but it is the common thread that brings us together. That and having children which adds another complex dimension.

    I also have another “professional” that is willing to write some articles for us. One of the topics is fertility planning before treatment. At our last group she was incensed that a 32 year old was not given any info on conceiving in the future before she started treatment…

    The sky is the limit for this site…

  5. imstell says:

    Susan, I heart you too. Smooches!!!

    Mary Beth- Our baby sitter’s 15 year old niece, was just diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She’ll be in the hospital undergoing chemo and radiation until November. I just about flipped my lid when I found out no one had talked to her about storing eggs for future children! I agree with your professional.

  6. Jill Aldrich says:

    Stella, What a story you have. You make me want to be a better woman! Or at least one who can handle adversity (many times over) with equal grace and grit.

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