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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Limo to San Francisco please

What is real and what is virtual? I’m in San Francisco for the Second Life Community Convention and sometimes it’s hard to believe I flew halfway round the world. It took me nearly two days to get here from the UK as the flight I was due to take on Monday was cancelled. Why didn’t I just tp here?

Wednesday, August 12 A good friend shows me some of the sights of San Francisco. We buy picnic foods at the Ferry Building and take the ferry out to Sausalito, passing Alcatraz island on the way and getting a fairly clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which has always been completely shrouded in fog on previous visits. A magical day, with time to relax and to get used to the time difference.

Thursday, August 13, 9 am. Time to set off for the Westin St Francis Hotel where the convention is being held. When I arrive I follow the noise up to the mezzanine floor. There’s a gathering crowd around what looks like a registration desk, but no badges or programs to be seen. Gradually the story unfolds. The registration materials have failed to rez. Otherwise it’s business as usual, and the sessions are due to start at noon. Aside from the slight inconvenience of not knowing who’s talking at any particular time, no-one seems particularly bothered by the lack of badges and programs. In fact, it acts as an ice-breaker and gets us talking to each other. I meet Frans Charming and Rhiannon Chatnoir who are familiar faces from last year. Somehow I manage to meet up with Bri and Pookie Gufler – one of the volunteers, Glennan Glenerg who like me is from the UK, takes a picture of me on his cell phone to show Bri if he sees him. Now why didn’t I think of that. Bri is the Health Track leader and we have had several meetings in world during the process of putting the track together. Bri introduces me to Pathfinder Linden who will be on a panel on Saturday with Treasure Ballinger, Ricken Flow, and myself.

And then, I meet Gentle Heron ...

I recognize Gentle by her voice and fall under her spell. Gentle is someone I have long admired and meeting her in person is a great thrill. She has multiple sclerosis and is unable to stand unaided, and if she has to go very far she uses a wheelchair, but she has turned her disability into a gift and has used her second life to make a difference not only for herself but also for many others. Gentle came into Second Life with several others looking for a community to support people with disabilities and when they didn’t find it they decided to create it. What started as the Heron Sanctuary has evolved into Virtual Ability, Inc., which now helps people with a wide range of disabilities to enter and thrive in Second Life. Earlier this year, Virtual Ability was one of two projects to win the first ever Linden Prize. It’s not hard to understand why. VA is fundamentally changing the way people play and learn in Second Life, and it is bound not to stop there as Gentle is still full of ideas for the future.

Somehow I navigate Gentle’s wheelchair (which was damaged on her flight to San Francisco) and we find a place to sit, and find ourselves talking with Dusan Writer, another person I’ve admired from a distance and who I learn later is Doug Thomson in real life, the CEO of Remedy Communications, and Shirlee Mills, who makes and sells pianos in Second Life. Later, Gentle introduces me to Harper Beresford and we three go off for lunch together, Harper takes over the driving and does a better job of it than me. The conversation sparks so many ideas. Later I look up Harper’s blog, called ‘Harper’s Bizarre’. It’s witty and insightful, just like its writer. There is food for thought in her blog piece about ‘charities in SL’.

In the evening we go to the Linden Lab Luau in the Yerba Buena Garden opposite the Moseum of Modern Art. At the door there are, of course, freebies ... It seems slightly surreal to be surrounded by so many Second Life residents and Lindens wearing brightly colored leis and eating real food. After the party Flash Alcott shows me the memorial to Martin Luther King which is behind a magnificent 50-foot waterfall. We listen to the water falling and read the inscription ‘No, No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”’

And then on to the ‘Blarney Stone on Tour’ where the Blarney Stone Bar in Second Life has taken over the real life Sellers Market on Market Street for the evening. We listen to Second Life musicians in real life and drink beer. It’s the sign of a good party when the beer starts flowing and this one is no exception ... one glass of beer takes flight and lands on me! And it's REAL beer! So, back to the hotel to wash and brush up ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Obama in Ghana ... and Second Life

I don't often stray outside the remit of this blog, which I see as being to focus on information for and about cancer survivors in Second Life. But Saturday was exceptional.

I found myself sitting with avatar friends from all over the globe in Second Life, joined via a chatbridge to participants in Metaplace, watching President Obama speaking live to the people of Ghana. Wiping away a tear as he reminded Africans and people all around the world that: 'Africa's future is up to Africans ... I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. After all, I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's'.

Second Life is such a powerful immersive environment, that I felt as if I was watching from inside the parliament building in Accra, surrounded by friends.

As one of the people watching in Second Life said, politics aside, it is a tall order addressing Africa's social, and economic problems. There was not much new in the content of the President's speech, rather, it was the fact that he was there, affirming his own and America's commitment to help Africa to change and telling them 'yes you can'.

Which brings me back to the relevance of blogging about this event here. The President confirmed America's commitment to help Africa to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, polio, to invest in public health systems that promote wellness and the health of mothers and children, through a comprehensive, global, health strategy.

The speech was followed by a panel discussion in Second Life moderated by Tori Annenburg. KentonKeith Kitalpha (Ambassador Keith Kenton), DNA Dumouriez (African musician Derrick Ashtong), and Timothy Bergson (African Studies professor, Timothy Burke) engaged in discussion with Second Life and Metaplace participants. I wasn't able to stay for long enough unfortunately to report on what sounded from the outset a very interesting discussion.

What a privilege is was to be watching this moment in a global community. Congratulations to the Vesuvius team and to others who were involved in making this event work.

The full transcript is on the White House website:

See my Flickr stream at:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Take a tour ... American Cancer Society in Second Life

The official promotional video by MarkTwain White for the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life in Second Life" campaign, which first screened at SL6B.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Virtual support for cancer survivors - a panel discussion at SL6B

On Sunday, June 25 I moderated a panel discussion at SL6B at the American Cancer Society's exhibit 'The American Cancer Society in the Virtual World'. Five cancer survivors took part in this discussion where they described their experiences and how they felt about peer support in Second Life.

One of the questions that came up was, how does virtual support compare with real life support. The speakers made some important points, emphasizing the discoverability and accessibility of the SL support group and the low threshold for joining it.

Five different perspectives, from survivors in the USA, Canada, and Brazil, with different types of cancer, but with several common themes.

From left to right: Hilde, Les, Poppy (standing), Dwen, Tathi and Cinders

Hilde Hullabaloo, a thyroid cancer survivor in Canada, says she was never offered any support in real life. 'My doctors appeared to have no idea there is support out there for thyroid cancer patients, or didn't judge me in need of it. I was explicitly told to stay off the internet when it comes to thyroid cancer, because it would scare me.

'I don't drive and live in a very car-dependent area; there was no way I would have made it to a “real world” support group meeting, particularly not while I was tired and in pain. In the throes of treatment, I felt ashamed, depressed, and terrified; I found it difficult to express those feelings to anyone in the real world.

'The threshold for entering into SL's support group, while higher in terms of technology and bandwidth, was emotionally and physically lower.'

Les Karsin, a prostate cancer survivor in the USA, pointed out that one important difference between RL and SL support groups was accessibility. 'In SL it is much easier to find a group and easier to attend meetings than it would be for me in RL. All I had to do was search groups for the word "cancer," and the ACS survivors' group was right there. To attend meetings, all I have to do is sit down at my computer, log in, and TP to the meeting location.'

Les also prefers the relative anonymity provided by SL. '... [it] made it feel safer for me to attend the first few meetings. I am actually quite a shy person, and it would have been much harder for me to walk into a room full of people in RL for the first time and tell my story. On the other hand, now that I have experienced the benefits of a support group in SL, perhaps I will be more likely to seek out a group in RL at some point in the future.'

He has found e-mail based support groups helpful, but points out that '... meeting with a group in SL, in a virtual environment where I can see other people's avatars seated around me and interact with them in real-time, gives me a much stronger sense of presence and connection, I think that SL provides many of the same benefits as meeting with a group in RL, but reduces some of the barriers that make it hard for a person like me to take that first step of joining a group. Another advantage of SL is that I get to meet and talk with people from all over the world, not just my local area. That gives me a sense that I am part of a much larger, global community of people who are fighting this disease.'

Dwen Dooley agrees. 'Anonymity, via an avatar that has ... or doesn't have to have ... a connection to your real name, can give you courage. You can talk about "private" matters in SL where you might feel there was a taboo about talking about it in "Real Life".

'Access can be another issue. SL offers desk or lap-top access to support without concern for travel, ramps, stairs, hills, cars, buses, trains ... the outdoors ... those limited by their RL bodies are mostly not as constrained by SL.

'In SL you can't hold a real hand, cry on a real shoulder, or get a "real" hug. [But] those who immerse themselves in SL are used to its limitations and accept them because they've seen such amazing benefits despite those limitations.'

Tathi Pessoa, a cancer survivor from Brazil, says: 'I’ve never been to a RL support group, its not usual in Brazil . I’m not aware of groups outside the big cancer hospitals and when I have to go to a cancer center usually I have to stay face to face with people in all kinds of state of cancer (normally very advanced ). It scares me a lot so I avoid this kind of places. SL can provide beautiful places and environments ... different from the scary one.'

Cinders Vale is a six-year breast cancer survivor in the USA. She had to give up her car several years ago and finds getting to real life support meetings, especially in the winter, is a problem.

She says: 'I think going to virtual meetings/chats for many is easier. It doesn't matter how bad you look or feel. You are still surrounded by those who have been where you are, and who understand. You can feel the support and caring. Survivors or caregivers who need to talk at any time of the day or night have access to group members. They can just open up the group IM window and see who answers them. Our virtual support system works just as well as any RL version. It does fulfil a need for many out there.'

Many thanks to all the participants for sharing their perspectives.

Milestone year for Relay For Life of Second Life

In this milestone year for Relay for Life of Second Life, the American Cancer Society's real world head office in Atlanta, GA has issued a statement recognizing the passion and dedication of survivors and volunteers in Second Life.

'Celebrating its fifth year in the virtual world, the 2009 American Cancer Society Relay For Life® of Second Life is set for July 18-19 as avatars representing cancer survivors, caregivers, their families and the millions of passionate supporters gather virtually to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and join the American Cancer Society in fighting for every birthday, threatened by every cancer in every community.

'This year’s virtual world event is expected to attract in excess of 3,000 participants as more than 125 teams unite toward reaching a fundraising goal of $250,000. In 2008, Relay For Life of Second Life raised $215,000 – surpassing its total for the previous three years, combined. Simultaneously, the real-world American Cancer Society Relay For Life is in the midst of its 25th birthday year, as the world’s most successful nonprofit fundraising special event brings together more than 3.5 million people across the United States and 20 other countries to raise funds to embolden the American Cancer Society’s fight for every birthday, threatened by every cancer in every community.

'The 2009 Relay For Life of Second Life celebrates “One World…One Hope,” thematic of the Society’s global mission and of the scope of Relay participation in its real and virtual world environments.

'During this year’s registration rally in February, 40 teams pledged their support for the event and signaled the largest, single-day team registration in Relay For Life of Second Life history.'

Scott P. Bennett, American Cancer Society national vice-president, marketing, said:

“The engagement of these committed, virtual world volunteers continues to grow each year and demonstrates the enormous impact they have within the Second Life community and with encouraging others to join the American Cancer Society’s mission to help save lives and create a world with more birthdays.” He continued: “Virtual world Relay participants, just like those in the real world, are passionate about their involvement, and they powerfully reflect Relay’s worldwide reach.”

For more information about Relay for Life of Second Life, go to:

For information about the American Cancer Society in real life go to:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ishtar Roux on air on'Two Martini Lunch'

So there I was, sipping my martini 'shaken not stirred', at the Sunset Jazz Club, listening to the 'Two Martini Lunch' radio show on 'Martini in the Morning'.

My reason for being there? Cancer survivor and Relay for Life of Second Life team captain Ishtar Roux was being interviewed on the show by Brad 'Martini' Chambers.

Ishtar Roux and Whenever Timeless in purple dancing at the Sunset Jazz Club

'Ish' talked about the history of Relay for Life, not forgetting to mention that it is 'International', and explained how RFL of SL is very similar to RFL in real life. She also gave simple and easy-to-follow advice about how to find out more and take part. And all this while she was dancing ... WTG Ish!

Belle Loll and Poppy Zabelin watching the dancing as they listen to the radio program

If only someone had told me that I needed to throw on something more respectable than t-shirt and jeans!

Monday, June 29, 2009


The Live Art Auction organized in Second Life by the RFL Survivors/Caregivers Committee was a great success judging by the results up to the time I went to bed. A good number of people turned out and there was some lively bidding competition.

The auction, which was due to be held last week but had to be rescheduled because large areas of SL went down, was organized by LadyKay Gable, with proceeds going to Relay for Life of Second Life.

I went to the auction set on one particular picture, and went home the proud owner of 'Spring #1' by Filthy Fluno. Filthy has long been one of my favorite artists in SL, and this particular work caught my interest because it is fresh, and bright, and full of hope. It is evocative of some of the artists whose works I admire, such as Matisse, and Kandinsky. And this particular picture reminded me of a time many years ago when I was feeling very low, and went out and bought a yellow couch to bring some sunshine and color into my life.

For more information about 'Filth' a.k.a. Jeffrey Lipsky see this New York Times article 'Portrait of an artist as an avatar':

Lots of smoke but no fire

This year I am heading a team of 'ambassadors' to promote the international aspect of Relay for Life of Second Life. Like many others I've been concerned about the rumors out there that Second Life is being banned in Australia. I would have grave concerns about cancer survivors and supporters in ANY country being excluded from Relay for Life of Second Life, not to mention the wider ramifications of Second Lifers from any country being barred from entry into SL.

The source of the confusion appears to be a story published in the Sydney Morning Herald last week. Basically, selected ISP's are trialling a scheme to block access to adult content games. An internet critic is quoted in the article as saying that 'the move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.'

Now, a ‘cloud’ is NOT the same as an outright ban, although some sources have said it IS so. The Metaverse Journal responded on June 25 in a long open letter to the Australian Minister in question, Senator Conroy, objecting to the ban. Over the weekend the thread was picked up by hundreds of blogs and forums around the world. On Monday June 29 the Australian Christian Today wrote that: ‘It was confirmed by Australian Minister for Censorship that online games such as Second Life is (sic) banned in the country.’

There is nothing like checking the facts first. So Ember Farina, Australian ‘Ambassador’ for RFL of SL and Team Captain of the Friends Fighting Cancer RFL of SL team, who in real life is an Australian firefighter, contacted the office of the Senator in question and spoke with an associate there, and says: ‘It appears to be something related to GAME ratings. SL is not classified as a game at this stage. IF there was a complaint received in the future to the Gaming Commission then it would be addressed but his associate seemed fairly comfortable that it's not an issue in this circumstance.’

Ember went on to say: ‘I asked the Senator's associate if there was anything in writing to support this but there wasn't. As far as the Senator's associate was concerned this only came to light because a newspaper article jumped on it - SL was never mentioned nor targetted by the Senator.’

The whole thing seems to be a misinterpretation of the Australian government’s ongoing censorship/filtering scheme trying to block extreme violence games and child pornography. So it looks as if although there's a lot of smoke, there's no fire. Yet.


This morning I contacted Linden Labs who have now responded that: 'We have received no indication from the Australian government that it intends to block Second Life.'


Sydney Morning Herald

Christian Today

Metaverse Journal

Friday, June 26, 2009

Live art auction to benefit Relay for Life of Second Life

The live art auction being organized by members of the RFLSL Survivors and Caregivers Committee that was due to be held last saturday had to be postponed because of the sim outages in Second Life. I understand from LadyKay Gable who is the auction's main organizer that the auction has now been rescheduled to SUNDAY JUNE 28.

Above: a sneak preview of some of the works that will be auctioned on Sunday

The auction will be held on the north shore of ACS island. Chase Marellan will be wielding the gavel. An amazing array of artists have donated their works. So come, dig deep in your pockets, and bid! All proceeds to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Second Life.

The following artists have generously donated works:

Daruma Picnic, Sledge Roffo, Zhora Maynard, sakura2 Kohime, littleone Aries, Greenthumb Magic, StarZ33 Mccullough, LadyKay Gable, Silver Click, Elizabeth Tinsley, Delgado Cinquetti, Rain Somhers, Cheen Pitney, Cre8tive Chemistry, CHUCKMATRIX Clip, Josina Burgess, Sistagrlro Wei, Katarina Erin, Oberon Onmura, Artfox Daviau, Caitlin Tobias, Demi Blackhawk, Jazz Calhern, poi jarvinen2, Betty Tureaud, Maryva Mayo, Shellina Winkler, zephyru Zapedzki, Physeter Nicholls, Feathers Boa, Filthy Fluno, Misprint Thursday, and BrightamberG String. There is also a posthumous collection of works by Artistic Fimicoloud.

Take the SLURL to:

The Future is NOW! ACS helps celebrate SL's sixth birthday

The American Cancer Society, one of the finalists for the 2009 Linden Prize, is one of the organizations featured at Second Life's Sixth Birthday (SL6B).

The Society's site, designed by Emily Schaf, is located in SL6B Titan.

While the main focus of the American Cancer Society exhibit is on Relay For Life of Second Life, the site also features samples of other American Cancer Society real life programs, such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, International Relay For Life, and appropriately the American Cancer Society's More Birthdays campaign. The exhibit was also the venue for a panel discussion yesterday on virtual support for cancer survivors.

The exhibit features a cool new video by MarkTwain White describing the role of the American Cancer Society in Second Life.

It is humbling to be a part of this amazing organization. As 125 teams and more than 2000 volunteers prepare for the fifth Annual Relay For Life (to be held this year on July 18-19) it is clear that the American Cancer Society is making the future and setting standards in fundraising and support in virtual worlds … and that 'The Future of Charity in Virtual Worlds is NOW'!

SL6B runs until June 30. Don't miss seeing this exhibit - go to:

For more information about exhibits and events at SL6B, check out the SL Wiki at

Register for the first lap of Relay for Life of Second Life!

With less than a month to go, there's still time to register for the first lap of Relay for Life of Second Life!

The Fifth Relay for Life of Second Life will be held July 18-19 2009. More than 125 teams and 2,000 volunteers are hard at work raising funds to cure cancer. So far they've raised over $200,000 real American dollars!

The first lap honors cancer survivors and cancer caregivers from around the world. Survivors and caregivers walk the first lap to put a face to the battle against cancer. They've been on the 'front lines' in a battle on cancer, and are here to tell their story. Over 120 survivors and caregivers have already registered.

For more information on Relay for Life of Second Life, visit

To register for the first lap, please go to that site and click on 'Survivor & Caregiver First Lap Registration'.

If you have any questions about the first lap or the Survivor/Caregiver Committee, please email Dwen Dooley, Chair, RFL of SL Survivor/Caregiver Committee, at

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Makeover models on show in Hope Haven

We've installed a viewer in Hope Haven where you can now see the 'before' and 'after' pics of the 'Makeover Magic' models. Come see.

Pictured above: Glenna Lane, a long-term breast cancer survivor and an active member of the cancer survivors group, after her makeover.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An angel's touch

With all the coverage we've had for the Makeover Magic fashion show on the American Cancer Society island on Sunday, June 7 you'd think there would be nothing left to say. Well, not quite.

The fashion show went off flawlessly. The models - survivors, caregivers and mentors - looked stunning. But behind the scenes there were, putting it mildly, complications. One of them was losing our partner Runway Magazine who were co-sponsoring the event and responsible for the publicity ... who quite simply fell off the grid. The story's been blogged to death so I won't repeat it here, but it left Makeover Magic coordinator Cinders Vale and the committee members with quite a dilemma. Should we look for another partner? Should we postpone the show? Or fill the gap ourselves? We took the brave decision to handle it through the group's members and, judging by the results, I think it was the right way to go.

At one point it looked as if we might lose Glitter Xeltentat, a cancer survivor, from the program. And then an angel stepped in ... Italia Villota called Glitter a day before the show and took her shopping, and made sure she got on the runway.

Behind the scenes

Glitter poses on the runway

Glitter sparkled. She walked down the runway as if she'd had years of training (and I know how difficult it is, having walked the gangplank ... errr ... runway at the survivors' fashion show in 2007 ... it was like walking through thick, sticky, heavy glue). She glittered, she gleamed, with her SL family there to support her. And her new look suits her perfectly!

The final line-up

If you've read my previous post you'll know that we chose to hold the event on National Cancer Survivors Day, because it is about celebrating survival, and giving survivors (and their caregivers) a little pampering. Thank you Italia for showing us what NCSD is about!

A big thank you to all the fashion mentors, the FACES team, FACES CEO Aradia Dielli, the designers who donated items, and Jeremey Ryan of Barefoot Designs for the surprise gift of a home for each of the survivors and caregivers who took part in the show. To our photographers Jordan and Sharron. To Aryon Dagger for interviewing the participants. And last but definitely not least our coordinator, Cinders Vale. You are ALL angels!

The Art of Healing - exhibition at Karuna

I have just visited Karuna where there is an exhibit of work by Sledge Ruffo on 'The Art of Healing'. Karuna is a non-profit sim that promotes AIDS/HIV awareness where stories are shared in music, literature, and art.

Sledge Roffo started making art in Second Life about a year ago, coining the word 'Primagery' to describe the process -- i.e., creating prim sculptures and then taking snapshots from various angles.

From the landing point I took a healing walk along the riverbank towards the Community Center. The images lining the path are bright and luminous but still surprisingly calming. There are some garden sculptures, and more 2D images inside the center and up on the roof including the limited edition 'primagery' collection.

Sledge writes: 'The work shown comprises a selection from a body of work that I have produced from November to January, with the exception of the sculptures displayed in the garden which are very recent. '


TP to the starting point here

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hair Fair to benefit cancer kids

Mark your diary -June 20 is the Hair Fair, which will donate profits from sales of SL hair attachments to the real life non-profit Locks of Love. LoL gives hair pieces to kids who lose their hair due to chemotherapy or other medical crises. I bought some amazing hair there last year.

See James Wagner's blog at:

Celebrate survivorship!

Sunday June 7 is National Cancer Survivors Day - and to celebrate, six survivors and caregivers who have been treated to a makeover will be parading their new looks along with their mentors at the Makeover Magic fashion show on the American Cancer Society island. The show kicks off at 11 am SLT.

This event is organized by a committee led by Cinders Vale and formed by the Cancer Survivors and Cancer Caregivers groups together with the FACES Creative Team. It will feature designs by a host of talented designers who have kindly agreed to donate items.

'Makeover Magic' is the Second Life equivalent of a real life program, 'Look Good...Feel Better' - a free, community-based service run by the American Cancer Society that helps cancer survivors to restore their appearance and self-image during treatment.

National Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated in hundreds of communities in more than 15 countries around the world and is supported by the American Cancer Society. Come and help us celebrate survivorship and admire the makeovers!

Oh, and the SLurl:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Playing The 1st Question

Three Relay For Life team captains were among the four contestants in The 1st Question on Tuesday. I couldn't be there myself because of the timing but I watched it later on line.

Aryon Dagger is a breast cancer survivor who has been featured before in these pages when she took part in the Makeover Magic program last year. She's a consultant for this year's program and talked about the fashion show which is taking place on Sunday.

The other contestants were Jasmine Night and Katina Magic who are both team captains, and Franja Russell who runs the SciFi and Fantasy portal and was last week's winner.

Pooky Amsterdam and Hydra Shaftoe host this weekly fun quiz on SLTV, and there were plenty of plugs for Makeover Magic and for Relay For Life.

First up, each contestant was asked to define which element defines them best. Aryon and Jasmine both chose mercury, which Aryon chose because it is 'liquid, smooth, and mixes well with other elements'. Katina and Franja chose oxygen and cobalt respectively.

It was a closely run contest between the two 'mercurial avatars' but Aryon slid in front at the end. Woot Aryon!

Watch it here on:

UPDATED Friday, June 5 - Aryon has blogged about her experience here:

I painted my house purple ...

After brainstorming with some Relay For Life volunteers, RFL of SL event chair Fayandria Foley came up with the idea of showing our hope by turning our land, our clothes, everything we could think of, purple on a chosen day. So, Monday, June 1 we turned SL purple.

Poppy's Place

I painted my house and died my hair in the cause.

For more images see the Daily SL News blog:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mixed reality conference on impact of virtual worlds in public health

I was honored to be one of the speakers recently at a mixed reality all-day Health Expo to celebrate the launch of the Health Commons. It was organized by the Non-Profit Commons, an online community initiative of Techsoup Global, and part of the NetSquared Conference in San Jose, CA.

The expo consisted of a number of panels, with the aim according to the organizers of 'bringing together healthcare leaders and practitioners to share best practices and develop new strategies for incorporating technology to address the need to organize and disseminate health-related information and to connect with other nonprofit health organizations to promote the advancement of innovative projects, cures, research and advocacy'.

Left to right: Poppy, Sting and Fay

Stingray9798 Raymaker, the ACS representative in Second Life; Fayandria Foley, Event Chair of Relay For Life of Second Life; and I were on a panel to discuss the ways in which the cancer support community, the cancer treatment community and the cancer research community can meet together and share ideas and support, through the various inworld support networks in the virtual world of Second Life. We also explored the fundraising success of Relay For Life.

There were five panels in total and the other four panels consisted of: mental health issues (Coughran Mayo), HIV/AIDS awareness (Ricken Flow), healthy lifestyles (Rebecca E. Lee & Sameer Siddiqi, Texas Obesity Research Center), and disabilities (Gentle Heron of Virtual Ability).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fimi we love you and remember you

Remember Artistic Fimicoloud, the feisty little pink fox? It is a year ago since she passed, but she touched so many people in SL that I know she will always be remembered.

Fimi's team, the Passionate Redheads, celebrated her life a few days ago with a party at the Park Galleries. See:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

ACS unfolds plans to expand its support programs in SL

Stingray9798 Raymaker (the American Cancer Society representative in SL) is the first to acknowledge that he is a "noob", who once managed to delete an entire building. (You're not the only one, Sting. I managed to delete my house!) But his vision of how ACS will evolve in the future is far from rudimentary.

Speaking at Nonprofit Week last Thursday, Sting used the opportunity to unfold ACS plans to expand its support group program in SL to match its RL programs, as well as offering help and advice to other nonprofits.

He first outlined the current programs on the American Cancer Society sim, including The Hope Haven which he described as "the cornerstone of how the ACS provides much needed support for cancer survivors who live in Second Life", the "Makeover Magic" program which is scheduled to happen twice in 2009, and a breast cancer education and awareness program based on the real life Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program.

New projects include the Media Library, where avatars can browse resources of information, and a new series of lectures on cancer information organized by Ren Stonecutter, a RL physician who is already a popular speaker on the island.

Forthcoming plans include a support group (Man to Man) for men only, and another program, Reach to Recovery, for breast cancer survivors to “mentor” newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Another, more aggressive plan involves access to the ACS's National Cancer Information Center. The NCIC consists of cancer specialists who currently answer all phone calls (24/7) to the ACS toll free hotline…1-800-ACS-2345. Emphasizing that this is still in the very early stages of development, Sting continued: "If this project is rolled out, we would be able to provide immediate information and resources to cancer patients and loved ones in-world just the same as we do when they call on the phone in RL. I do not mean to create an expectation that this will become available in the near future - but it is one of my pet projects that I will work diligently on because the need is so great."

In closing, Sting offered the following thoughts to nonprofits and also mentioned that ACS will in future be offering its meeting spaces to nonprofits who do not own their own sim:

"Since entering Second Life, the American Cancer Society has existed on the support of one staff person and countless volunteers. Our budget allocation is minimal, at best, and we exist primarily because of generous volunteers who donate their time and talent.

"The key to our success has always been the organization’s willingness to support and legitimize our volunteers’ efforts. It shouldn’t take a lot of money to exist in SL, if you stay true to the mission of your organization."

Orange Island and the Nonprofit Commons teamed up to present Nonprofit Week which was held from Monday, January 26th to Thursday, January 29th.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trader cycles his socks off for cancer research

Some people think about it, others talk about it, and a few go for it.

Trader1 Whiplash was one of our first Fighting Spirit speakers in Hope Haven on the American Cancer Society island in SL. As a real life leukemia survivor he is passionate about Relay for Life of Second Life and as co-owner of T1 Radio which covers the event live he is sometimes known as the 'Voice of Relay". This year he is taking on the in-world challenge of Mission Integrity Chair for RFL of SL 2009. And in real life, he is taking on another challenge ...

In June, Trader is going to be cycling his socks off when he hopes to take part in the America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride - Lake Tahoe - as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team In Training. The aim is to raise funds to help stop blood cancers from taking more lives.

If you would like to support him or just take a peek see:

WTG Trader!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SL volunteers have their say on healthcare!

Draxtor Despres has captured the SL community discussion on healthcare reform needs in this machinisma which is now on Utube.

One of the people interviewed was cancer survivor Hylonome Quintessa - WTG Hy! For her full report see:

Siri Vita who organised the discussion also spoke persuasively about the advantages of holding such a meeting in SL where people who cannot easily get out and join in real life neighbourhood discussions (and who are often those most impacted) can have their say.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reforming health - the SL community has its say

Hylonome Quintessa, a breast cancer survivor and member of SL Cancer Survivors Group, attended a meeting of representatives of health and support organizations in Second Life to discuss health care reform in the United States, and has sent in this report.

The Obama/Biden Health Care Policy transition team has called for Americans everywhere to gather and speak their minds about how best we can fix our broken health care system in the United States. Residents of Second Life were no exception.

Despite terrible glitches on SL, many attended an event on Monday December 29 at The Cafe in Port Spinoza, representing many concerned groups involved in health support and information in SL. Members of SL's Justice League appeared in their capes to make sure only those with invitations entered, but in the end they themselves commented as well. Siri Vita expertly moderated the event.

The goal of the discussion was to draft a response to specific questions about how policy changes could bring about health care reforms. The attendees were asked to give input on the following questions and also filled in a notecard with their responses at the end of the meeting.

1) What do you perceive is the biggest problem in the health system?

2) What do you think is the best way for policy makers to develop a plan to address the health care system problems?

3) After this discussion, what additional input and information would best help you to continue to participate in this great debate?

The event was filmed by Draxtor Despres who is making a documentary which will be submitted to President-Elect Obama's health policy team.

A further meeting to discuss the responses will be held in January.

Hylonome Quintessa

To read further about the Obama-Biden plan see:

New schedule for cancer caregivers meetings

Willow Lundquist has announced that the caregivers support group will meet twice weekly going forward, Sundays at 10 am SLT and Wednesdays at 7 pm SLT. The meetings will alternate between Hope Haven and Willow's place. Please contact Willow if you would like to learn more.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR to ALL of us in 2009 and may at least one of (y)our dreams come true.

Groovy Winkler will be starting off our 2009 'Fighting Spirit' talks on Sunday January 4 when he will be speaking about his personal cancer journey fighting a rare disease called pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) that affects only one in a million people. We'll be meeting as usual in Hope Haven on the American Cancer Society island at 12 noon SLT.