dear cancer: you might have killed me, but i kicked your ass

shortly after i was diagnosed with cancer, i heard a woman on the radio talking about the memories with which she hoped to leave her children when she died. (she had advanced-stage cancer. her children were young.) the simplicity of her answer was striking. she wanted them to remember her as being happy, loving and brave in the face of a challenging, painful and, ultimately, fatal disease.

ever since listening to that show, i’ve thought a lot about the legacy i want to leave behind when i die — be it 5 years from now, 15 or 50 (although, if i beat the odds and make it 50 years, who cares about a legacy at that point?! i joke. i kid.).

this TED talk was sent to me by a friend (and newly dubbed producer of my blog, for all the wonderful creative ideas he’s sent my way recently!) who insisted that i a) watch it immediately; and b) blog about it. the talk — which is well worth a watch (it’s only five minutes; c’mon you surely have that much time!) — expanded the idea of that-which-will-be-left-behind far beyond my previous notions of legacy.

in the digital era, leaving one’s mark on the world is no longer just about face-to-face interactions and phone conversations (which will quickly fade from memory), or a little bundle of hand-written letters, neatly tied together with a ribbon.  today, human beings have the opportunity to connect with each other through seemingly infinite forms of media.  if, indeed, future technology enables us to beam holograms of dead-and-gone loved ones into our living rooms and interact with this identity — created through years of facebook and twitter and blog posts (as the talk suggests) — we’d better be damn careful about the social-media based legacy we’re in the process of creating each and every day.  (that’s right, i’m talking to you, rep. weiner.)

fortunately, lots of people — both within the cancer community and outside of it — are already lots of steps ahead of me.  this article covers just a few of the ways in which cancer survivors have created forums for human connection that have the potential to long outlive them.  one great example is the just-launched social networking site for cancer fighters, survivors and supporters — i had cancer.

jon mitchell (author of the above article) describes the site like this:

Mailet Lopez, the creator of I Had Cancer, survived Type 2B breast cancer. After recovering, she “wanted to help the next person who was affected,” so she started a blog to chronicle and share her experience. The team at Squeaky Wheel Media picked up her story and approached her, and they built the idea into a social network. The site connects survivors, fighters, and supporters using geography, chronology, and type of cancer. It features a question-based discussion board, as well as a bulletin board called “Dear Cancer”…

it might sound strange, but i’m thrilled to have been inducted into the society of those who have been diagnosed with cancer — a society of people who have the opportunity to transform a terrifying and disempowering experience into a way of creating, as drew olanoff from the mitchell article describes it, “social good.”

whether or not you’re a cancer survivor, whether or not you have any interest in creating your own new social network, perhaps it’s worth taking a moment to ask yourself, “what is the legacy i want to leave behind?  and if my hologram were to be beamed back, would i be comfortable with its representation of me?”

i will leave you with this: if you had just one final tweet to leave the world (a mini-legacy of 140 characters or less), what would it be?

mine (as the title of this post indicates) would be “dear cancer: you might have killed me, but i kicked your ass.”

8 thoughts on “dear cancer: you might have killed me, but i kicked your ass

  1. RIGHT ON!! God’s sentiments exactly said to Satan….Genesis 3:15.
    “He (Christ) shall bruise you on the head, and you (Satan) shall bruise him on the heel.” The ultimate blow and death and defeat of Satan! The bite was put to the heel….keep up the good fight!
    love you….much!
    mom

      • Me, too! I was a third-party participant as a LIVESTRONG Leader who hadn’t actually fought cancer, personally, for the past year or two. Then, in July, when I was diagnosed out of the blue, I was struck with how much more amazing it is! I thank Gawd every day for the LIVESTRONG & online cancer community. Remarkable.

  2. Pingback: Weekend Coffee Links – Cereal Marshmallows Edition | Outspoken Media

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