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Preview: NPR Blogs: My Cancer

NPR Blogs: My Cancer

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 07:00:17 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2009

With The Circle Complete, We Begin Anew

Fri, 30 Jan 2009 07:00:17 -0500

It's a bittersweet day. "My Cancer" is turning a corner and will morph into "Our Cancer" next week. We've had quite a ride, haven't we? For most of it, I've been on the sidelines as an observer. This was always Leroy's hood. It's where he came to clear his head of cancer. The blog put him at ease. He could tell you how he felt and what he felt, and you felt it, too. He spoke for so many. As I sit here writing this, I see him at the computer at home, typing away. I see him on the lanai in Maui, typing away. Even though we were trying to get away from cancer for a few days, it was still important to "talk" to all of you. I see him in his bed, no longer able to sit at the computer. He would write the blog and I'd type it so this community would know, even in the final stages of the fight, what he was thinking and how he was feeling. He put it all out there. This great big pied piper of cancer world created a place where we could all come and breathe. It was never my intention to continue the blog. But it was Leroy who thought the grieving side of cancer would bring his story full circle. That must have been his "journalist-gene" kicking in. The story should always have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So we all grieved together. The blog changed and we welcomed new members. Many had also seen the worst of what the beast had to offer. We lifted each other. The circle was complete. Now we begin a new circle. Filled with new conversations, new information, and new opportunities. "Our Cancer" will be the best place to come when cancer interrupts a life. You'll still hear from me, just not with a daily blog. So talk amongst yourselves ... I'll be listening. More importantly, I really think Leroy will be listening, too. After all, we're still walking in his hood. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

A New Home

Fri, 30 Jan 2009 06:59:00 -0500

As you have read, My Cancer will now be Our Cancer. Starting Monday, you'll find a link to the new site in the Essential section of, the same place the link to My Cancer has been. Also, you can bookmark the following address: -- Eyder Peralta

A Big Job To Do

Thu, 29 Jan 2009 07:00:08 -0500

A "lengthening tally of losses." That's how Maureen put it into words in her comments to the blog yesterday. She was reacting to the news of Randy's death. His name has been added to the others who have passed through our community. Some stayed with us in time measured in years, or in Randy's case, measured in weeks. No matter what measuring stick we use, we have all come here and found a place that is our safehouse. We can talk about death, we can talk about treatments, we can laugh, and we certainly know we can cry together. The new site, the Our Cancer place, will allow us to continue and even grow with pictures and stories and conversations. So many of you have already found it and have begun to carve out a new place. Spread the word. There's room for so many more who need a place like this to feel welcome. When you're in cancer world, feeling welcome and safe is a gift. Leroy planted the seeds. They have rooted deeply in the soil of this blog. He left us with a big job to do. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Hoping Randy's Found Peace

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 07:00:19 -0500

We've lost Randy. His niece broke the news on the blog. We hardly knew him. He joined our community on December 16th. It was his birthday weekend and the beast had found him. Randy had an openness about him. I think he was shocked to find himself in this place, so he got down to the business of cancer right away. He wanted the road map through this world and this group was ready to lead him. We chuckled with him when he talked about losing his hair and we told him there was no shame in admitting he was just plain scared. He came for advice and he got that, too. His journey was a short one, but he made an impression. He left his mark, and that's what it's all about. In his first posting, he asked, "Is there peace?" I hope he has found that there is. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Our Cancer is About Us

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 11:16:34 -0500

The new Our Cancer community has been live for less than 24 hours and I'm happy to report that people are beginning to use it. As of this morning, around 50 of you have joined the group, and a number of you have started posting introductions about yourselves. A few people have asked me if Our Cancer is just a new name for the blog, so I wanted to explain a bit more. Our Cancer is whole new thing that's a direct offshoot of the blog, which you can find at On the blog, Leroy or Laurie would write something each day and publish it. Then the rest of you would then post a comment as a reply to whatever they wrote. It's a great way to collect responses from people, but doesn't make it possible for everyone to start their own conversation. With Our Cancer, any of you can begin your own discussion or share your own story. For example, if you wanted to start a conversation about who's thinking of getting involved in a particular clinical trial, you could go to Our Cancer's discussion board, click the "start a discussion" button and begin a conversation about it. For example, Liz L. has already started a discussion about chemo fog. Or if you wanted to share a story of your experience at your first chemo session, you could create your own blog post by clicking the "add a post" button - and maybe even write other blog posts as you complete your treatment. That's why it's called Our Cancer -- it's a place where all of us can share our experiences in Cancer World in a collaborative way. To get involved, please visit We really hope you join us; the more of us posting there, the more useful it'll be for all of us as a community. -- Andy Carvin -- Andy Carvin

The Big Step Of Hospice

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 07:00:47 -0500

A year ago today I was sitting at home, waiting for a knock at the door. It would change my life again. It would change Leroy's life again, too. It was the day we would meet the hospice nurse. An introduction to our future. This would be the second time a hospice person would come into our home. The first time was a bad fit. We both couldn't wait for her to leave. So this time around, we were a little nervous. Leroy wrote many times about the question of whether, or when, to call hospice. The subject, I admit, always caused me to break out in a sweat. It's such a big step, deciding how to spend the final days of life with your loved one. It's something many of you have talked about these past few weeks. Our community is hurting. Too many needing hospice care. I received an email yesterday that a friend's family had called in hospice to ease the pain of a relative in the final stage of cancer. They asked for prayers and hoped this beloved family member was finally free from the pain of the beast. I guess that's what hospice does best. Ease the pain. It was seven months later before our hospice nurse would return. But this time she came to do her job. By the way, I'm sure you've all seen Andy Carvin's note on the blog about the new "Our Cancer" site. He has taken great care to grab you by the hand and walk you through the new opportunities available on the page, but we welcome your questions, too. Andy knows all the answers, simple or complicated, and we all want everyone to feel comfortable using the new "Our Cancer" forum. -- Laurie Singer

Introducing Our Cancer

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 14:50:20 -0500

Hi everyone, My name is Andy Carvin, and I'm part of the team that coordinates NPR's online communities. You may remember that I wrote a blog post several months ago talking about the possibility of creating a new space for members of the My Cancer community that would give them new ways to interact and support each other. Today, we're launching that new space. It's called Our Cancer. When you visit Our Cancer for the first time, you'll find some things that are familiar, but largely it will be a new experience for most of you. Up until now, we've interacted through the blog, which meant that Leroy or Laurie would write a post, and then the rest of us would respond, having a conversation in the comment threads. With Our Cancer, things will be different, as all of you will be able to start your own conversations. Each one of you will be able to post blog entries and start discussion threads. You can even upload a photo or video clip and have people discuss it, or share an event listing with everyone. If you've ever used Facebook, it's kind of like what's known there as a Facebook Group. It's a place where all of us can take the lead and begin conversations that are important to us. Since Our Cancer is brand-new, there isn't much content there at the moment. If you'd like to see what a community looks like once people have been using it for a while, try poking around our All Tech Considered community. It's about technology, which may not be of interest to you, but it'll give you a feel for how people use our community tools. Our Cancer is open to everyone, so right now you can go to the site and poke around. If you'd like to participate, though, you'll have to be a registered member of For those of you who have been posting comments on Laurie's blog entries over the last few months, you're good to go; just visit Our Cancer and click the big blue Join This Group button. If you're logged into the site already, you'll join it immediately; if not, it'll ask you for you to log in first. To register, go to our registration page and follow the instructions. Once you're registered and logged in, go back to the Our Cancer page and click the Join This Group button. After you've done that, you'll be able to take full advantage of the community, such as posting your own blog entry or starting a discussion thread. You can also upload photos, video or event listings. Whenever you go to the Our Cancer group, you'll always see most recent blog posts first. Just to the right of the latest blog post, you'll see two tabs; one for blogs and the other for discussions. If you want to see recent discussions, just click that tab and it will switch to the discussion. There's also a "view all" button for both blog entries and discussions so you can browse recent submissions from other community members. Our Cancer will be a new experience for many of you, so we realize it may take some practice. Feel free to post comments to the blog if you have any questions on how it works, and we'll do our best to help you out. Meanwhile, we encourage you to start discussions on things you care about. You're the experts in your own experiences in Cancer World, so we're hoping you'll take the lead in sharing your stories so others can benefit from your wisdom. Thanks again to everyone who's given us feedback on this project. And above all special thanks to both Leroy and Laurie - Leroy for encouraging us to continue the community and Laurie for helping us make it happen. This community wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. -- Andy Carvin -- Andy Carvin

Winter Is What You Make It

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 07:00:59 -0500

It's been a weekend of bright blue beautiful days. Very cold but spectacular days. Walking on the C & O canal, I look up into a sky that is so clear. No clouds. Just the bare branches of the trees in their deep winter sleep, reaching up to the heavens. My dear friend Carol, who walks with me, made an interesting comment as we were finishing our six mile jaunt. She said before she got into walking in the winter with me, she only thought of it as something she had to get through to reach Spring. What she doesn't know -- until now, because she reads the blog -- is that she has made this winter bearable for me. That early morning frosty air clears the mind. I've been able to put one foot in front of the other and march down the canal path because she has been by my side and listened to my sorrow spill out in rants and tears and Leroy stories and sometimes all three combined into one long walk. Some days, the hurt has just poured out of me. Remember what the experts tell those of us who are hurting from our time in cancer world. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and exercise. And if you have a "Carol" in your life, you'll find that winter is what you make it. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

A Season Of Loss

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 06:54:20 -0500

It seems like so many of us connected to yesterday's blog. Could it be the gray of winter? Everything is so drab. It's cold. Life has lost a lot of its colors. Or do we see it that way because we are going through a season of loss? I was trying to explain that to a friend who knew Leroy well. She commiserated with me, but truthfully, if you're not going through it, you can't possibly feel it. Laurie Hirth, you have made such giant strides moving on in your life without Neil. Then, boom ... two steps forward, ten steps back. Sasha, Eileen, Patty -- you get it. Whether you're anticipating what's coming or are in the heightened sense of sadness. You get it. Some of you saw it as a bump in the road. But it feels more like a shift in the grieving process. Early on it was a heaviness that could not be shaken. Pressure in the heart that wouldn't allow me to breath. Now, it's being alone. And alone isn't fun. It's not the kind of alone that can be filled by calling a friend or going shopping or watching a movie. This "aloneness" comes from missing Leroy. Plain and simple. I'm in the missing part of this process. He left a crater behind where he once stood. That's the way my friend described it, and she's right. Stan, you say you miss him and didn't even know him. Not true. Every day on this site, he shared a piece of himself with you and many others. You knew him well. You are right to be missing your friend. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Missing That Familiar Presence

Thu, 22 Jan 2009 07:00:15 -0500

It's the simplest things that remind me every day just how much I miss Leroy. The chatter in our house over the Inaugural events of the past few days would have been non-stop. Recapping the coverage, sharing experiences. It's just what we did as journalists, as interested observers of history. How I missed that this time around. I miss his voice. And the new season of TV shows has started. 24 one of our favorites, is back with all cylinders firing. Jack Bauer and the gang had a huge two-night season opener, but there it sat on the TIVO. No Leroy to share it with. The chefs on Top Chef don't know it, but they've lost one of their biggest fans. We would watch and marvel at how these contestants would whip up some beautiful food on a plate with just a few mushrooms, something reduced in a pot, and something else the chefs would call "protein." Of course, we simply know it as fish, meat, or poultry. And when I'm scanning the movie channels and stumble across Gladiator, Blood Diamond or heaven help me, the one millionth showing of Dirty Dancing, I just reach for the power button on the clicker. Too many reminders of how much I miss that big familiar presence in my life. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

A New Beginning

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 07:00:11 -0500

It was a sunrise made to order over Washington, D.C. An awakening in a sky that was flecked with pinks and golds and wisps of cloud backlit by the rising sun. And it only got brighter as the early morning hours ticked away on Inauguration Day. A hopeful sign and a new beginning for our country. A new beginning for all of us. If you're a card-carrying member of cancer world, you look for new beginnings. Hope and change in our world mean something a little different. We hope for added funding that will help push treatments forward, and we hope the scientists are successful in their attempts to make vaccines and find other creative ways to kill this killer. There are so many voices screaming for attention for so many causes. It's up to us to turn up the volume. I know there is a plate full of problems on the priority list, and I don't envy President Obama as he sits down in the Oval Office today. The economy, wars, unemployment ... and cancer. The beast never rests and neither can we. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Another One For The Beast

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 07:00:29 -0500

Sitting in a church this weekend, saying good-bye to a friend. Mary lived so much of her life at NBC NEWS. She always seemed to be on the job. That was two years and a day before cancer took her away from a loving daughter and other family, not to mention a room full of friends now mourning her death. She barely had a chance to enjoy retirement when chemo replaced gardening and traveling and all the plans she'd had for doing the things she never had time for because the job directs your days. Score another one for the beast. A life cut short. Love lost. A family shattered. Friends losing friends. Cancer, in a nutshell. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Who Could Play Leroy?

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 08:38:31 -0500

What if Leroy were a movie? I mean his story, of course. We'd all need a lot of Kleenex. It would be a tearjerker. But who could fill those shoes? Who would be cast in the leading role? He'd have to be a big guy. Not just tall, but big, with broad shoulders, and he'd have to know how to use his size. Then there's the laugh. Who in Hollywood could match that deep, robust laugh? That was Leroy's calling card. Most important of all, who could capture the "Leroy" part of Leroy? Strength. Humor. Stubbornness. Impatience. Compassion. A communicator, with a huge heart. And he'd have to have an appetite, too. Macadamia nut-encrusted ahi. Crab cakes. Unlimited chocolate and plenty of good Chardonnay, just for starters. This could be the role of a lifetime! Far too short a lifetime. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer

Our Cancer: Doing A Little Growing

Thu, 15 Jan 2009 07:00:42 -0500

"Life is change. Growth is optional." That's what the sign on the firehouse lawn said, in old fashioned black plastic letters that were a little crooked. The billboard had seen better days, too. But the message was right on target. It doesn't matter where we fit in cancer world. Our life has changed. It's the growth part that is up to us. Do we decide to keep on fighting? Remember Leroy's words, "It's still a life worth living." It's also a life that is still worth growing. We're going to do a little growing on the blog in the next few weeks, too. Eventually, this blog will change names. When Leroy began writing, it was "My Cancer," because it was. Now it's become "Our Cancer," and that's what we'll be calling it when it takes on a new face. It will have a new home at NPR. A place they call a Community Forum. A place where this community will be able to continue to share personal stories, but also open a dialogue on the many faces of cancer. The technical details of this, I will leave up to Andy Carvin. He's a digital wizard at NPR. So when the time comes, Andy will join me here on the blog to guide you through the new steps of finding "Our Cancer." -- Laurie -- Eyder Peralta

My 'Dumbo's Feather'

Wed, 14 Jan 2009 07:00:27 -0500

Tomorrow will be five months since Leroy's death. And you're still lifting while I struggle through the pain and loss and the emptiness of missing him. To steal a page from Walt Disney, this community has been my "Dumbo's feather." The cutest little elephant with the great big ears who needed his friends to convince him he could fly. Dumbo had no confidence. His faith had been shattered. But his best friend, Timothy Q. Mouse, and a community of crows gave Dumbo a feather and convinced him it held magical powers. With it, he could soar above the circus crowd. That feather worked its magic until one day, it fell from Dumbo's grasp. As he plummeted to the ground, Timothy confessed to Dumbo that the feather really wasn't magic at all. He had the ability to fly all along. He just needed a little "lift." My feather, your lifting, has been put to good use these last few days. And believe me, it's been tested. Just being back at work. So many times wanting to call or email Leroy. It had always been a natural part of the work day. So I'm still holding on to the feather you've given me. Some day I will be able to put it in a safe place or maybe even pass it on to some one else. But for right now, Dumbo's feather is working overtime and I'm holding on tight. -- Laurie -- Laurie Singer