ABOUT “NANCY’S POINT” BLOG
In her words, Nancy Stordahl is, “an educator, author, blogger and freelance writer”. Her Blog, Nancy’s Point (which I link to below) focuses on Nancy’s own journey with breast cancer, as well as losing her mother and several friends to metastatic breast cancer. Nancy was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer in April 2010 and also learned she is brca2+.
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Like so many of us, cancer “forever altered” Nancy’s life. She writes candidly about various topics, such as cancer, survivorship and grief.
As she states, “for me, there is no going back…I refuse to sugarcoat this horrible disease.” Blog: https://nancyspoint.com/
ABOUT THE CHALLENGE
As Nancy says:
It’s time for my annual summer blogging challenge and readers and bloggers alike are invited to join in! Yep. That means YOU! Somewhere along the line, my summer blogging challenge morphed into an annual affair. Supporting and promoting fellow writers/bloggers is important to me and makes me happy. Plus, it’s fun! And we can all use a little more fun these days, right?https://nancyspoint.com/its-my-2021-summer-blogging-challenge/
“Amen, sister! Amen!“
NANCY’S ANSWERS TO HER 2021 SUMMER BLOGGING CHALLENGE:
HERE IS THE LINK TO NANCY’S RESPONSES TO THE 2021 CHALLENGE: https://nancyspoint.com/my-summer-blog-hop-is-here-so-get-your-posts-ready/
Yes, Nancy also joins-in on the Challenge too!☺️
MY POST FROM LAST YEAR’S CHALLENGE
I participated in Nancy’s Blog Challenge last year, 2020 the worst year EVER!
However, 2021 has been pretty awful too….
HERE’S THE LINK TO MY RESPONSES TO THE 2020 CHALLENGE: https://braincancerbabe.com/2020/07/20/nancys-2020-summer-blog-hop/
ANSWERS TO NANCY’S 2021 SUMMER BLOGGING CHALLENGE
1. QUESTIONS: 1.)WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS YOUR GENRE? YOUR INSPIRATION?
As, I wrote back in 2020:
1. WHO AM I?
My name is Ruthie K, a.k.a. Brain Cancer Babe.
Just like Nancy, my life was “forever altered” in the blink of an eye, but my battle has been due to brain cancer.
THE MEDICAL STUFF…
Briefly, on April 6, 2014 I suffered a grand mal seizure losing total control of my body and losing consciousnesses minutes later. Let me just say, “there are a lot of frightening things in this world, but being conscious, yet losing complete control of your body and having NO IDEA WHY is beyond frightening.”
Eventually, I awoke laying in an E.R. triage room. Surrounded by family and friends, I learned that I had had a seizure caused by a lesion in my brain AND it would have to be removed as soon as possible. A week later I underwent my 1st of what now totals 9 brain surgeries.
I was diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive form of brain cancer, a Grade III anaplastic ependymoma.
CANCER & CANCER TREATMENT – THE “GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING”
After April 2014, my world would never be the same. In the matter of seconds, I was no longer a young, successful, professional woman with my whole life ahead of me. Overtime, and as I write this, I’m a 3-time brain cancer survivor since 2014.
In just a little over 7 years, I’ve GONE THROUGH MORE MOST PEOPLE WILL EVER SUFFER:
- 9 brain surgeries;
- countless hospital stays & scans,
- radiation treatment coupled with radiation necrosis. Basically, the radiation caused cystic lesions in my brain that are still present, 6 years after my last radiation treatment swell. These cysts swell and cause swelling in my brain. Then, I suffer constant mobility issues/neurologic deficits , seizures, etc.
- recently chemo that destroyed my immune system
MY METASTATIC DIAGNOSIS
- Then, in 2020 I officially became a Stage IV patient after my brain cancer escaped the CNS system, attacking lymph nodes in my neck and my salivary gland (
- THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT 20-30 CASES OF THIS REPORTED!).
- The facial nerves wrap around that gland. The surgery to remove the tumorous parotid gland and lymph nodes in my neck TOOK 14.5 hours. Yet, I awoke from anesthesia fine.
- However, on the post-op unit I stopped breathing! They used Narcan to get me breathing again, after which I had a seizure. I’ve never fully recovered from that physically or emotionally!
- I’m like Mrs Potato Head…1/3 of my scalp is a graft from my abdomen and my neck on the right is a graft from my thigh.
- Numerous infections, including one in my skull bone where they found 3 different bacteria; C Diff ( if you don’t know it, consider yourself lucky) plus Dengue Fever that I contracted in the Virgin Islands
- Recently chemo that destroyed my immune system
- I still deal with focal seizures (I do not lose consciousness)
- However, as I write this, there IS “NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE!”.i.e., NO CANCER!!
- So, it’s pretty amazing I’m still alive & kickin’
Thus, I went from an active adventurous, career-driven professional who worked out 4/5 4-5 times a week to disabled, reliant on a walker or a wheelchair.
Also, due to how insanely rare my case is, the NCI/NHI follows my care.
Further I definitely am now a METS “Club” member, referring to metastatic cancer.
Since, late 2020 I’ve gotten varying opinions on whether I am now “terminal” (I treat at 3 hospitals)
Personally, I don’t feel “terminal”
Yet, then again, “What would that feel like anyway?”
Nevertheless, I’m deemed Stage IV because those bastard brain cancer cells escaped the blood-brain barrier and invaded my salivary gland and several lymph nymph nodes in my neck. It’s basically unheard of.
But “Hey, that’s me!”
GRIEF AND WATCHING A FRIEND SUCCUMB TO BRAIN CANCER
- Sadly I witnessed the decline and eventual loss of a dear, dear friend from brain cancer in 2017
“WHAT I BELIEVE IS WHO I AM”
Cancer does not “define me”.
However, it’s a major part of me. “How could it NOT be?” It’s nearly killed me multiple times. Cancer forever changed my entire life.
It killed my amazing friend and has caused such pain to people I love.
As I wrote in 2020, Deepak Chopra teaches that our beliefs give us our identity.
In other words, “What I believe is who I am.”
As Deepak teaches, one of our limitations in life is that we define ourselves by labels, rather than by our beliefs.
While I am in no means some spiritual guru.
However, I value this type of thinking.
Thus, I am deeply loving and do my best to be kind.
I am compassionate and empathetic, sometimes even to a fault.
Please do NOT show me those ASPCA commercials! So many ugly tears!
Along those lines, I am extremely sensitive, which I find to be a strength and not a weakness.
Also, I am trustworthy to my core.
Generally, I believe people are good and want to help others in need.
As such, I’m a fierce advocate for brain cancer/cancer awareness, funding & research. Also, I volunteer with several cancer charities.
I am proud of the person I am, especially, the person I have become in these last 7+ years.
Of course, I’m not perfect. I do not suffer fools easily and have plenty of other flaws, but who needs to hear about those?
Autobiographical With A Bit Of “Self-Help” Thrown In
HOW LONG I’VE BEEN AT IT/WHAT INSPIRES ME/ETC.
I began my actual Blog in 2016.
It was originally dedicated to sharing my experiences with cancer, which struck in the prime of my life..
YET, IT ALSO INCLUDES musings on LIFE, LOVE, FEAR, HOPE AND SURVIVAL.
So, it’s meant for all audiences.
The Blog has developed in a way I never expected.
I believe that as writers/bloggers, it is our duty to write not just about our experiences, but also what shapes our writing.
2. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BLOGGING ROADBLOCK THIS YEAR AND DID YOU COME UP WITH A WAY TO GET AROUND IT? (IF YOU DIDN’T, THAT’S OKAY TOO. WE’RE HERE TO SUPPORT
My biggest roadblock has simply been getting the time in-between my medical chaos to sit down and write.
I know writing must be a priority because I am planning to take my Blog writing and transform it into a book.
Thus, I have to ensure I make time to keep writing.
While I don’t find it a “roadblock”, I find that my Blog gets decent traffic.
Yet, I do not get many followers or comments.
3. WHAT’S SOMETHING YOU ACCOMPLISHED WITH YOUR BLOG THIS YEAR THAT YOU’RE PROUD OF?
I achieved so much through my Blog this past year.
I would say my biggest accomplishment is utilizing my Blog to write pieces that will and have been published.
Further,my Blog has led to interviews, Podcast appearances, and speaking opportunities.
AS FEATURED IN:
- THE BIG ORDEAL
I also wrote a Post about it here: https://braincancerbabe.com/2020/10/01/featured-on-the-big-ordeal/
Based upon my feature in The Big Ordeal, I was actually chosen to be featured in the “patient corner” of the ASCO PUBLICATION (The American Society of Clinical Oncology).
However, I wound up back in the hospital as I was working with the Editor to finalize the Article.
- ELEPHANTS & TEA In Conjunction With b-Present (As Both A Writer and Virtual Panelist)
THE DOCTOR T. J.
But Seriously: The Cancer Podcast
Bert Scholl is the Creator & Host of the Podcast But Seriously He is also a “Survivorship Coach”.
Unfortunately, Bert and I have been trying to find the time to record my interview. It doesn’t help that I’ve been living in and out of hospitals this summer. We will work it out!
His Website is: BertScholl.com
THE EVENING STREET REVIEW
My work will appear in the upcoming Evening Street Review #32
Featured as a guest on the following Podcasts:
- Aunty M Brain Tumours Talk show on Croydon Radio (online). Claire Bullimore, was the host and importantly, a fellow brain tumor survivor.
As Claire stated at the time:
her show is there “to give a voice to brain tumour sufferers, survivors, family or friends.” AND, this was key – her website said that she interviews “anyone who wants to have a voice or tell their storyClaire Bullimore, (aka Aunty M Brain Tumors)
Time has passed. Thus, my interview is no longer available. The prior link was:
My segment began at just around 14 minutes in.
Claire’s website has also changed since our interview in 2016. Oh my, soooo much has happened since then!
Her Twitter handle is: @BrainTumorAunty
- Women’s Cancer Stories hosted by Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky, a board-certified medical oncologist.Interlude can be found on any podcast player, including Apple
Dr. Teplinsky states:
I share the stories of women who have been affected with cancer as a way to provide support, inspiration, encouragement, hope and strength to other women who are also going through similar experiences. Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer in some way. These conversations are one way to create an understanding of the cancer experience. #interludepodcasthttps://interludecancerstories.com
Also, I appreciate the connections I’ve made with other writers through my Blog. That’s why I share other Bloggers’ Articles.
4. WHAT ARE A COUPLE OF YOUR BEST BLOGGING TIPS?
- Be open, honest, and not afraid to share the good the bad the ugly
- Support other writers: You never know where it will lead. The connections you make may bring other opportunities, or you could simply connect on a personal level.
5. How do you handle negative feedback or comments?
I’m quite happy I’ve never received negative feedback or comments.
However, I have worked with Editors who suggest edits to my Articles. You must be diplomatic if you do not agree with the edits. At the end of the day, I write about my story. Thus, my writing must express my viewpoint it must
6. Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written RECENTLY (since last year’s challenge perhaps) that you want more people to read.
I completely forgot to add a link initially- “blame brain cancer, I do”
This was a difficult piece to write. It addresses the trauma I experienced after my 9th surgery, as well as the loss of my “brain cancer partner in crime”. I discuss, Near Death Experiences(NED), which I know not all people believe in and that’s okay…. except for the surgeon who claimed he had “no responsibility for me once I got to the post-op unit” and refused to answer ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME scoffed at the notion I had an NED.
Let’s just say, “we are NOT friends!” If I ever saw him again, we would certainly get into yet another screaming match. Can we say: “White-Coat Syndrome?”
So here is my Post: WHY I BELIEVE I DIED AFTER MY LAST SURGERY AND HAD A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE.