Godspeed, Susan by Stella

February 11, 2012

I’ve been staring at this blank screen for days… ever since I got the news about Susan Niebur.  The words to pass the news, well, they just haven’t come…  I wish they didn’t need to.  

WhyMommy gave up her five year fight against Inflammatory Breast Cancer on Monday, February 6, 2012.  Her husband posted a touching final post on her personal blog, Toddler Planet.

It just doesn’t seem that mere words are sufficient to pay tribute to one such as Susan.  Well, maybe I feel that MY words aren’t sufficient.  After all, I only knew WhyMommy, the blogger, the cancer patient, the advocate.  The part of herself that she shared with the world at large.  I only met her once in 2007.  I am very sad to say I didn’t know her personally.  And yet, she changed my life.  

The words to memorialize her for the world just won’t come.  Others have been far more eloquent on that score than I could ever be.  The only words I have are those for Susan herself; words I couldn’t share with her while she was still here because mourning was not what I wanted between us at the end.


My very dearest, Susan – 

This is the second letter I’ve written to you.  It is no less heartfelt than the first.  Just over four years ago I was troubled to read that you thought you were dying.  I thought you might be giving up.  Heh.  How very, very wrong I was.  

You stood up from that low moment in time, brushed yourself off, and stepped out on faith.  You chose to live with cancer instead of die from it.  You defined cancer instead of letting it define you.  I read along with the rest of the blogosphere as you pushed at boundaries in the cancer world.  I marveled at your mad advocacy skillz.  I envied your bravery, your passion, your tireless drive.  I grabbed your coattails and held on… as Mothers With Cancer was born.  

I have been privileged to share in even that small portion of the changes you orchestrated in the breast cancer world, the eyes you opened, the women you educated, the lives you most likely saved.  You have been a mentor in all things:  advocacy, motherhood, loving, living.    In short, I am and have always been, awed by you.  

I will miss your voice, Susan.  I mourn the loss of your gentle guidance and insight.  I will never forget the lessons you taught me.  My world, the whole world, is better because of you.

Godspeed, my friend.


Here are a few pins from Susan.  They are pretty self explanatory.



Blogging Communities as a Healing Force

July 19, 2008

Tomorrow afternoon, Laurie, Flutter, LoveBabz, and I will be speaking at a BlogHer panel called “Blogging Communities as a Healing Force.” Susan of Friday Playdate will be moderating the discussion and asking us leading questions. I’ll report back here afterwards and tell you what it was like in the room full of women bloggers. Were they interested? Did they participate? Will they take us seriously and still love our flawed, less-than-perfect selves?

I hope so.

But what I really hope is that we get across one very important message, the message that I needed to hear the most when I was diagnosed and the reason we started this Mothers With Cancer site at all. No matter how dark the forecast, or how crazy the circumstances, you can be sure of this:

You are not alone.

But wait! There’s more. Since the room will be full of blogging women and men, I’m betting that more than one will stop by our site during the session on Saturday to see what we’re all about. This is your chance, ladies … if you have a moment, why not leave a comment here and TELL THEM. Tell them what you want them to hear. Has the blogosphere been a help to you in your cancer fight? Has twitter? Discussion boards or email networks? Does it help you to be a better mom, or a more positive person, or stronger, or simply part of the world when you’re feeling isolated or sick? TELL THEM. We’ll collect comments on this post (and maybe posts from you?) all week, from both bloggers with cancer AND visitors to our site, and I’d love to see some honest truths expressed and new connections made.

I wish you all could be here with us. Please know that whether you’re in chemo this week, not well enough to travel, or simply busy living life with your family, you are all here in my heart.

This session will be dedicated (at least my part of it) to Andrea and Julia, two very brave mommies who the blogosphere lost to cancer this year.

It looks suspicious

July 15, 2008

I keep thinking that I’m ready to move beyond cancer, to seize the day, to do so many of the things on my list that piled up this year that I spent in bed. And then, out of nowhere, I’m blindsided by a latent side effect, a new medication, a complication.

This week, it’s ovarian cysts. I have two, you see, nestled side-by-side like twins on my ovary, 4 and 5 cm across. The one, we found out today, is a simple cyst and may resolve on its own. The other is a segmented cyst, which the doctor says could be anything. It could be nothing, or it could be a problem.

Of course, with my history, a problem is a big problem. So today he took blood for the Ca-125 test and a new screening panel for ovarian cancer. Tomorrow I call about the gene test (for BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, since they are the link between the increased rate of ovarian cancers in breast cancer patients and vice versa), and then next week we decide whether to take my ovaries out.

Whether in anticipation or reaction, we will probably decide to take my ovaries out.

I had hoped to avoid this decision for a little longer, to give my body a chance to heal, to recover. To have a carefree summer with my kids.

But we don’t always get what we want, do we? If this works, it will give me more summers with my kids, so it’s worth it no matter what. It’s a wake up call — but I really thought I was awake already.

Everything’s been a little mixed up since I heard those words from my GYN this morning as he gave me the results of my ultrasound:

It looks suspicious.