Moving forward

I now have a surgery date – December 17th. It isn’t exactly the date I wanted, but it is something that I can work with. With that in place, I can now start to move forward with my life.

Over the last week I have started to move beyond my diagnosis. My life is becoming less about cancer-Becky and I am looking at a re-emergence as academic-Rebecca. I have talked to my supervisor and put a plan in place that will allow me to move forward with my PhD. I’ve talked to the very supportive folks at the Department of Family Medicine who are also onboard to help me move forward. I am thankful for all the support I’m getting.

But the whole idea is still rather difficult. I’ve had to turn down a couple of conference presentations – the most recent being Dev Learn – which is disappointing, but there is no way I could travel to Vegas during chemo and present at a conference. It would be too much. I’ve decided that I’ll try a near-by conference first – one in Berkeley where I’ve had a poster accepted. I can get to Berkeley in 2 hours via public transit. It will be my first academic conference post-surgery (end of February), and I most likely won’t have hair. I have nice outfits that I can wear that will work with a flat chest, if I choose not to wear foobs, but I haven’t thought yet about what I shall do about my head. The whole idea of conferencing seems a little overwhelming right now – and yet I know it is something that I need to do as part of my re-emergence.

In this re-emergence, I am already thinking about my new identity – and how much I might want my identities to overlap. I’m considering a proposal for the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) relating to this blog, my experience as a cancer patient, but also my role as a non-physician medical educator. I’m not sure what that presentation would look like yet – I need to do some more consultations with friends and colleagues in the medical education field, and with any luck find one or more people interested in collaborating on something. I feel like there is something important to be learned in this process, I just don’t know what it is yet. I’d like to talk about the power of social media as a cancer patient – perhaps the role of social media in cancer patient education – and what medical students, residents, and physicians can learn from the new ‘connected’ patient experience.

My forward moving may get delayed now and then – and I certainly am not moving at the same pace as I was before diagnosis or chemo – I am glad, however, to be making some progress.

  • Becky


  • Good to hear your journey Becky and I totally understand your new sense of moving forward since knowing your Dec 17th surgery date. Even though I know things can and may change in my life ~ even if I have a plan, a date set up ~ internally for me its a comfort to have this positioning thing. Its like a pivot point where I notice I can now pace myself “from” or “to” something. Its just easier to be aware of balancing *KNOWING* that while things can change in limbo, in life, there is that pivot point I’m moving toward and beyond.

    Not sure if you have seen this very neat app ….Insight Timer but its another cool positioning thing.

    Colleen oxo

  • Hi, like the idea of social media for all levels of being an object of medical interest. The isolation of being a long way from people who can help me has made my heart condition a worry that can’t resolve itself. My local doctor is only available for booked appointments which are usually over 5 weeks away. The other doctors at the clinic are certifiably useless. Not one of the help numbers for heart patients connects to a human–all answering machines with never a call back. The direct line to my cardiologist is guarded by her receptionist who always scolds me for using it.

    But instead of complaining about this, the idea of self-care through discussion groups makes a lot of sense. It may not be perfect control though it would solve how demeaning it feels to be told the system is there to assist me when it isn’t.

    The Berkeley trip sounds very useful for your (even if it’s bald) head. My experience with looking at posters at conferences is joy of having the person and the idea together to converse with. If you anticipate being tired can you take a friend or find a poster partner? Conversations always get a bit crazy and you could tag team:-)

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