♫ Mr. F

The last six to eight years have been some of the best of my life — so far.

I’ve been a mom to two fabulous toddlers, preschoolers, school-agers and then awesome eight and ten year old girls.

I’ve made, maintained and enjoyed great friendships, hosted and participated in terrifically silly get-togethers, contributed generously to the world of children’s literature and literacy, thoroughly enjoyed four PABs, two PCTOs, one KidLitCon and the online and offline social media scene, and revelled in a whole slew of creative projects.

I’ve taken risks. I’ve grown. I’ve been more truly me than my crazy twenty-something years allowed.

And all the while, that cancer grew.

So, as the end of chemo inches into sight and I nervously ponder my re-integration, I remind myself that I’m not actually an alien among the healthy.

In fact, aside from the effects of the treatments themselves, I’m physically healthier now than I’ve been in six to eight years.

Ignorance was bliss.

But booting cancer and moving on is bound to be better.

Virtually reconnecting

Under normal circumstances, Andrea and I would be in Toronto this weekend to attend the fourth PodCamp Toronto (PCTO2010), a social media “unconference”. It’s one of two annual events we make a point of being a part of at which we reconnect with longtime social media friends, make new ones and get exposed to new ideas about connecting and engaging with people online.

These are not normal circumstances.

Andrea underwent her fourth chemo treatment yesterday. That’s right! We’re two-thirds through her chemo program. By the way, she’s doing amazingly well. Throughout most of this process, Andrea has exercised, walked, skated, baked, cooked and even organized our house. I thank my lucky stars each day that she’s doing so well.

It’s difficult for us that we can’t be with our friends or our daughters this weekend. We really need this time to recover from chemo, rest and take care of ourselves. At the same time, it’s nice that the PCTO speaking sessions and panels are all live streamed on the Internet. Andrea and I have been watching the sessions and even participating by exchanging Twitter messages with our friends at the conference.

Something that’s particularly special is our friend Daniele Rossi has been running around collecting good wishes for Andrea and posting them online under the name JustOneMoreVibe (I love it!). It’s really nice to hear our friends’ voices even if we can’t be there with them.

If only we could virtually be at the social events, too.

Textual Healing at PodCamp Toronto 2010

We’re really disappointed that we won’t be able to attend PodCamp Toronto this year. It’s always a great event at which to learn, meet new people and reconnect with our friends. However, with Andrea in chemotherapy right now, we have to sit this one out.

The good news is that we’ll be able to follow the event from the comfort of our home and we’ve been invited to deliver a session via video Skype. Our session is called Textual Healing: The use of social media for narrative therapy, connection and support.

Here’s how our session is described:

Communities can exist for many reasons, but one of the most striking recent examples is the support community that has arisen around Canadian social media fixtures Andrea Ross and Mark Blevis, as together they work to make Andrea a breast cancer Survivor.

Their place of wellness on the web, WeCanRebuildHer.com, and the community that has gathered there is “something that’s good for them”, their supporters and for others in similar situations.

In this presentation, Andrea and Mark will join PodCamp Toronto via live Skype video from Ottawa to share their use of social media as a key tool in Andrea’s strategy to survive and thrive and will offer their top tips for healing and sharing in a digital world.

If you’re going to be in Toronto on the weekend of February 20-21, 2010, we recommend you register for and attend PCTO2010.