It’s time for this summer’s blogging challenge from Nancy at Nancy’s Point! I always enjoy participating in Nancy’s annual challenges. They’re a great opportunity to learn more about the bloggers in our community and usually discover some new bloggers too.
Here are this year’s challenge questions from Nancy along with my answers to each.
1. Who are you? Tell us your genre, how long you’ve been at it, who or what inspires you or whatever you want us to know.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 28 years ago, when I was only in my mid-thirties. I had no family history of breast cancer and felt totally blind-sided by the diagnosis. I wondered just how much we really knew about the disease and its causes.
Twelve years later, after a second diagnosis of early stage breast cancer, I got involved in breast cancer advocacy. One of the things I most love doing as an advocate is serving as a “peer reviewer”–representing the patient perspective on panels with scientists reviewing breast cancer research proposals for funding.
In 2012, I started this blog as a way to share information with others who are interested in learning about progress in cancer research as I am. I write not just about breast cancer, but about broader themes in cancer research too. I write about recent studies that seem to speak to issues that are important from a patient perspective. I try to make posts as readable but also as accurate as I can, and link to other helpful information on the topic.
2. What’s been your biggest blogging roadblock this year and did you come up with a way to get around it?
The focus on other health issues right now–namely, the pandemic, vaccines etc.–is still taking up a lot of bandwidth in health news coverage these days. While important cancer research work continues, reporting about it seems quite a bit less prominent than in normal times.
How to get around this? I think it just means having to dig a little harder. Despite other issues, cancer is not going away, and it’s important to keep a focus on research and issues important to patients and survivors.
3. What’s something you accomplished with your blog this year that you’re proud of?
Financial toxicity–the outrageously high cost of many cancer drugs and treatments–is a problem that just keeps growing. I’ve mentioned it frequently and written some posts about the problem but wanted to do something a little more comprehensive.
I decided to do a two-part series specifically about financial toxicity, which I published earlier this year. The first part addresses what financial toxicity is and how it affects us, and the second part covers some of the solutions that have been proposed as well as resources that can be helpful if you’re dealing with financial toxicity.
4. What are a couple of your best blogging tips?
I think one of the best tips is to decide on a schedule for posting and stick to it as much as you can. Right now, I’m posting generally once a month. Regular posting seems to go a long way towards keeping readers coming to your blog.
Another thing that I think is important is make posts as easy to read as possible. Most of us scan through things we read online pretty quickly. I try to break up articles with sub-headings, short paragraphs and lots of white space so they’re easier to digest.
5. How do you handle negative feedback or comments?
I try to respond thoughtfully to all comments I receive, whether positive or negative. I want to be as sure as I can that my readers receive accurate information about the topic I’m addressing in each post.
If a negative commenter is talking about something they feel I didn’t address, I’ll acknowledge that if I think it’s a valid point and will sometimes do a little more research so I can note any pertinent information I might find in my response.
6. Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written RECENTLY that you want more people to read.
One of the posts I’ve written in the last year that I’d like more people to read is my post on Making Choices About Our Medical Care, which includes a list of tools I draw from in making all kinds of medical decisions based on my experiences dealing with breast cancer.
So that’s it for my answers on this year’s challenge. I’ve enjoyed this as always and look forward to reading everyone else’s responses, which you can find along with Nancy’s responses to the questions here. Thank you, Nancy, for putting together another great blogging challenge!
Summer 2020 Blogging Challenge
Summer 2019 Blogging Challenge
Blogging Challenge: My Answers to 10 Random Questions About Cancer
Three Year Anniversary for After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog
Blogging Challenge: 15 Random Facts About Me
My Breast Cancer Story
Photo by Lisa DeFerrari
I totally agree with you about the space that the pandemic is taking in health related discussions. Hard to talk about anything else right now.
Yes, and I thought there might be some getting back to normal on this by now, but it’s not happening so far.
Hi Lisa, great post! It’s so nice to connect via Nancy’s Blog Hop. And I agree the pandemic is overwhelming. At first, I didn’t want to post during the pandemic as I didn’t think my topics were of interest. But then I realized that cancer shouldn’t be put on hold and it’s important to keep on writing.
Thank you, Gogs! I’m so glad to be connected now and look forward to reading your posts. I felt the same about posting in the early months of the pandemic. But now after more than a year, it seems like there should be more balance. We can only keep on doing what we do!
Hi Lisa, I’ve admired your work here for many years – you always share such balanced and important research information. I always learn something new having read your posts.
Hi Marie, thanks so much for your kind words! I remember wondering in the beginning whether anyone would be interested. I was so excited the first time one of my posts was in your round-up. Your support over the years has meant so much!
I am so glad you are participating again this year! Don’t forget to add the Linky list sticky code to your post so the list appears here – if you want to, of course.
Your posts are always so informative and well researched. You know of what you speak! I always know whatever you write will be accurate. As you said, “cancer is not going away, and it’s important to keep a focus on research and issues important to patients and survivors.” Amen to that.
Thank you again for participating, Lisa. Enjoy the rest of summer and keep writing! x
The blogging challenges are a great idea and I love that you’ve kept them going. Perfect for the dog days of summer. It’s really nice to take a bit of a break from the serious stuff and learn more about each other and meet some new bloggers too. Thank you for hosting the challenges each year. And thank you so much for your support over the (eight!) years since I started this blog. I will see if I can add the sticky code to my post. x
I completely relate to your initial DX. Although I was was diagnosed with brain in my mid-thirties.34 years old(I don’t know if that’s early or mid-thirties, but anyway…. ) I had no family history of cancer that I was aware of. However, I later learned there is indeed a cancer history on both my maternal and paternal side. All my family is in Ireland except for my parents and they do NOT discuss family history. However, MS runs on my maternal side and has reared its ugly head in my family members when they’re in their early 30s or 40s.
Like you, I too “felt totally blind-side” by my diagnosis.
I also suffered a recurrence but less than one year after my initial diagnosis, Just as I approached my 5-year free milestone, suddenly I was diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer that escaped my brain and the CNS system (practically unheard of! Lucky me.
Once I was originally diagnosed I immediately became a fundraiser/advocate and dedicated the rest of my life to advocacy.
I applaud you for your advocacy, especially serving as a “peer reviewer”.
Many women and men do not know the connections between breast and brain cancer.
Even if someone is initially afflicted by breast cancer it can metastasize-to the brain.
On the other hand I have 2 friends who suffered brain cancer, were “NED” for years. Then suddenly, they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Keep up the good fights! ❤️
Thank you so much for your comments. I’m very glad to have learned more about you, your blog and your cancer experience through Nancy’s blogging challenge. Although we all have our individual stories, what you’ve been through sounds quite unique. It’s incredibly valuable to tell your story as you’re doing. For many of us, becoming an advocate, as we both are, is a way we can contribute based on what we’ve experienced. Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts!
Thank you for continuing to keep the spotlight on cancer through the pandemic. So many tests, surgeries and lives will be lost as a result – the numbers are a shot in the dark as to the real collateral damage we face but it’s not going away any time soon as long as there’s a politicization of masking and vaccines. I’m grateful for your honest posts and look forward to more until we reach next summer’s blog hop. Hopefully by then we shall be free of this pandemic and on our way home from vacations not staycations in the living room. Much love!
Ilene, sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re still in the midst of this pandemic. It seemed that by now things would be better than they are at this point. The pandemic continues as you say to reduce access to needed care. It has also taken over much of the conversation about health care for a long time now. All we can do is keep doing what we do! It’s more important than ever I suppose. xo
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