For and about Cancer Survivors in Second Life, and for anyone who has been touched by cancer

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We all had a Ball last night...

November is officially Caregivers Month, and when Marissa Goodliffe, who is Chair of SL's Cancer Caregivers Group, realised that there wasn't going to be time to recognize caregivers properly that month, she decided instead to organize a party on December 15 to honor the caregivers in our midst and to invite the caregivers, survivors, and Relay For Life groups affiliated with the American Cancer Society in Second Life. She was helped by Nevar "Santa" Lobo, Pips Fetid, and Synergy Devonshire who put together charming Holiday packages for everyone.

The Holiday Party was one of the most memorable and successful parties I have ever been to in Second Life. I really had a ball. The setting was beautiful - the castle was designed and built by Pips Fetid; the music was great, a medley of seasonal songs put together by DJ Bcreative Wilde; and the conversation and the company was wonderful. And what made it worthwhile was that so many people from the caregivers, survivors and RFL groups turned out, both to enjoy themselves and to celebrate the caregivers whose caring makes such a difference to the lives of those of us touched by cancer. I saw many old friends and made new ones. Thank you so very, very much, Marissa, Nevar, Pips, BCreative (and a Happy Bday!) and Synergy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trader fights back

In the latest of our "Fighting Spirit" series, Trader1 Whiplash of T1 Radio and Relay Rockers came and talked to cancer survivors and caregivers in Second Life about his personal fight with leukemia.

Trader is often called "the Voice Of Relay" in Second Life, and I have often heard him speak, but never before quite so passionately and personally.

He was diagnosed nearly five years ago. An enthusiastic golfer, he was diagnosed as a result of a routine sports medical when he signed on at a gym. After being given the scary news he was then told that it wasn't treatable... because it was too early... he lost his drive at work, his appetite, his girlfriend... and became seriously depressed.

The turning point was when other friends and family were touched by cancer. "We all have to find a source for our strength and mine comes from knowing that no matter how lousy I feel someone feels worse, that no matter how bad my cancer is someone else's is worse. When people offer me their prayers I ask them to send them to someone who needs 'em more than me." It was also around that time that he joined Relay For Life in Second Life and found a way to channel his energies into fighting back. When his white blood cell count got into the range that it needed to be treated, he was ready for his own personal battle, claiming that "...Chemo Sucks but its a lot better than the alternative. and hell, i have had worse hangovers!" (I HATE to think what those hangovers were like!)

Trader is in remission now, but he knows the importance of being surrounded by people who are there to support him through treatment. The nature of his leukemia is that in a few years he'll need treatment again. But he has learned to live with his cancer and is meanwhile back in pursuit of that one-digit golf handicap. "While I don't embrace it we have an agreement.. DON'T stop me from being me and I won't bitch about having it."

He ended with these words: "It's NOT easy to live with cancer.. and it's even harder to fight it, but as long as you have the ability to do so then damn it do it! JUST DO IT! the grass is a whole lot prettier when you are lookin down at it!"

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Road to Well Being

On Saturday, December 1, there was a Well Being Conference in Second Life, organized by Tina Marlin and Sophianne Rhode.The conference focused on Real Life personal well being, covering all aspects of well being in three major sessions: Body, Mind and Soul. The aim of the organizers was to bring together people from all paths of life to share and discuss their experience and knowledge. Individual speakers talked about their strategy to master life with all its specific problems, what personal well being means to them, and how they reach (or are hoping to reach) this goal.

I spoke in the session on Body - physical health & awareness - on the topic of "Coping with Cancer - a Survivor's Perspective". It was the first time I have talked publicly about my life as a thyroid cancer patient and about how being diagnosed with a recurrence 25 years ago took me on a journey of learning to be more assertive and to participate more actively in my own treatment decisions and care. And then Marissa Goodliffe, Chair of the Caregivers group, spoke about "Coping with Cancer - a Caregiver's Perspective".

We also exhibited there to raise awareness for the Survivor and Caregiver groups and for the American Cancer Society's activities in Second Life.

The conference was very well organised and attended, and it was an excellent networking opportunity. Well done Tina and Sophianne! I hope you will be encouraged by the turn-out and the positive response to put on more events like this.