Cancer Influencer

Wow, I haven’t written since July! That feels wacky and wrong, and right and ugh, I don’t know.

Let’s start with some updates on what life has been like over the last few months. I’ll also intersperse some photos from cancery things I’ve been doing recently.

GRACE Documentary has taken on a life of its own. I now literally live outside of my body an on a screen near you. GRACE was digitally released by SELF Magazine/Condé Nast in early October. It has been viewed on various platforms over 115,000 times. I am getting messages on the daily such as these:

“For someone who just recently finished my own journey, this was extremely touching. When you’re going through it, it often feels like no one understands. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone.”

“Powerful! My SHERO ❤️❤️

“This gave me chills. It is so real! As someone who is finishing my treatment cycle of radiation, has had a double mastectomy and had undergone chemo with young children I can relate so much! This gives me so much hope and I think I may get a tattoo like you!! You rock it girl! Keep on rockin it!”

“You are AWESOME! Stay strong, you are an inspiration to others. Your story helped me understand what my best friend went thru.”

Me, David Allen & Rachel Pikelny at GRACE Doc’s film festival debut at DOC NYC

It is overwhelming to me that I am being lauded with theses accolades. For starters, I can’t take any credit for the beauty and cohesiveness of the film. That all goes to the incredible director Rachel Pikelny and her editor Katie Wrobel.

Secondly, it feels nuts to accept praise for living my life exactly as I would have been living it without a camera present. It comes easily for me to share (ok fine, overshare) so there was no difficulty in allowing cameras to follow me. I am a pretty ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of gal. My filter went missing somewhere in my early thirties. Reward if found.

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 2.55.03 PM
Speaking at the 2018 Brushes With Cancer event run by my sweet friend Jenna Benn Shersher

I participated in this film because I knew that my face and family would be easily interchangeable with thousands of other cancery folk out there. I see myself basically as a surrogate for women around the world, to see their own story through mine. That is what we all need, you know? We just want to know that there is someone, anyone else out there who feels the same way about ‘surviving’ as we do.

The mastectomy tattoo is the culmination of the film. Now, most women will not get mastectomy tattoos, but they will do something that helps them reframe life with their new body and consciousness. In most cases, it probably won’t be obvious like a tattoo, but subtle changes to the way she chooses to live. And in some cases, women will hide from the reality of their new life altogether. Choose not to accept or worse, acknowledge that they are different now.

These are the women who need to see a film like GRACE the most. They just need to see that what is happening to them is not happening in a vacuum. It probably won’t change anything for them immediately, but maybe, just maybe, I can weasel my way into their subconscious and remind them that it is okay to start feeling, living, healing.

I am living in a strange period of time myself right now. Through this blog and now through GRACE Doc, I have become a bit of a cancerlebrity in certain circles. I was even referred to a ‘Cancer Influencer’ the other day. To my knowledge, the only virtual influencers I knew were Bachelor alums hocking Flat Tummy Tea on Insta. Am I among their illustrious ranks?!

Jill Kargman was the keynote speaker at the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation’s annual fundraiser where we won an award!

I can guarantee you that I am not. But the truth is that I would like to be. Not the Flat Tummy Tea type, though mama really could use a paycheck, but I have learned that I have a voice that certain people like hearing and relate to. For a long time saying that felt very pompous, but now I know that it isn’t about ego. It is about helping those who do not have a voice.

What is crystallizing into focus is that cancery women and their co-survivors need access to hear from their PEERS. We hear from our doctors, our social workers/therapists, our family and friends, but what we will get the most out of, is communicating with other cancery types.

Places like this exist both in brick and mortar and virtually, but they miss an element of real connection. I have blogged before that I am contacted often by people saying something to the effect of ‘my best friend from college’s cousin was just diagnosed, would you mind speaking to her?’ Now, I don’t know this woman any more than I would know a total stranger meeting in a virtual chat group, but we have some level of personal connection. An actual PERSON connected us.

Speaking on this panel was WILD. From left to right: Bruce Brockstein, M.D. Director of Oncology NorthShore, Georgia Spear, M.D. Radiologist NorthShore, Mark Sisco, M.D. Director of Plastic Surgery NorthShore, Catherine Pesce, M.D. Director of the Breast Surgical Program NorthShore, ME-DUH, Leslie Mendoza-Temple, M.D. Director of the Integrative Medicine Program NorthShore, Tattoo artist David Allen, Rachel Pikelny, Director GRACE Doc. Doctors Pesce and Sisco have been INSIDE my body, as they were my surgeons.

This is what I need to figure out how to do because as it stands, I am a one-woman cancer connection. I am like the Kevin Bacon of breast cancer. I can’t connect to everyone, but is there a way for me to connect you to someone else who also just connected with me?

Promoting the documentary on Windy City Live

And check it, I have to find a way to monetize this ’cause mama has lost money on all of her cancery endeavors so far. What they don’t tell you is that volunteering your time and energy, when you have 3 young kids, is actually a money sucker. I hate even saying this out loud, but it’s true. Anytime I am away, I am paying a babysitter and not able to take on doula clients. And I def didn’t get paid for the documentary. Spent plenty of dough on that too, traveling to and paying for childcare for most showings.

This is not a complaint. It is is a reality. Being Queen Grancerlebrity of Social Media Influencing is quite a divine gig. I know that I am helping people and that is worth more than any cash you could hand me (but don’t let this magnanimous statement stop you from handing me cash, should you desire). It is all about a balance that I just don’t have yet.

Speaking to the 6th Annual Conference on Women’s Sexual Health and Cancer at Duke University, Raleigh NC

And lest you think all this cancerlebrity has gotten to my head, allow me to give you a few highlights of my week so far:

  • Dragged 3 kids to the dentist
  • Done 4.5 loads of laundry
  • Not showered for over 48 hours
  • Steam cleaned up dog vomit on one floor and dog crap on another floor
  • Disappointed my children with my own cold/cough thus not being able to entertain them
  • Gone through 2 drive-thrus
  • Asked my mom & sister for help with general functioning
  • Colored my grey roots with a box from Walgreens

Just to keep it all in perspective, we are all just one tumor away from cancerlebrity status.

Please follow @GrancerForReal on Instagram. I am starting to tell m’cancery story from the top so that those new to Grancertown don’t have to spend 4 days in a hole reading every Grancerblog post (though let’s admit, that is fun if you are stuck in a cave or something).

One Comment Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    Just me and my new Layzboy. 1stRoundchemo 7dayspost

    Like

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