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.
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.
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.”