Summing it all up

Does anyone else have trouble writing bios for themselves?  I’ve resisted having a standard short biographical description for years, cobbling together whatever comes to mind at the last minute for speaking engagements, grant proposals, and “About Me” pages on group blogs.  It’s so hard to know what to say, and what not to say.

Where is it relevant that I’ve had cancer?  Where is it relevant that I have a Ph.D.?  Where is it unacceptable to admit that I’m a mom, and I spend most of my time momming, and that I love those days the best?  Then again, where is it acceptable to admit also that I love having good, productive work to do as well, and that I spend my “free time” doing space science research?

I suppose it’s just another casulty of this fractured life that so many of us lead.  One part of us goes to work, another part of us nurtures and teaches our children, another part does the chores (while thinking about the first two parts, and how lucky they have it), and still another, if there is any left over, goes out to Book Club and fancy dinners out without the kids.

It’s amazing, really, how much we all manage to get done these days.  But sometimes I wonder how best to integrate myself, my image of myself, and how much is worth keeping separate.

It’s relevant here, of course, because this blog was originally about my kids.  Then it was about my cancer.  Now I have a new venue for the hard-core cancer stuff (, and I am more free to use this site for the thinky essays that I enjoy composing and writing each day.  It doesn’t all have to be about cancer. 

I don’t have to be all about cancer.

But I’m still trying to figure out how best to sum up what really makes me “me.”  (And quick.  Cause BlogHer wants my speaker bio by tomorrow.)


10 Responses to Summing it all up

  1. ilinap says:

    Ah, don’t we all struggle with this one? I say you focus on the characteristics, not the features, that make you YOU. I tell this to my clients all the time. Cancer survivor, mother, wife, rocket scientist; those are labels. What are the corresponding adjectives that go with each label? Those are the characteristics that make you who you are. Then again, Cancer survivor, mother, wife, rocket scientist sounds pretty good…and impressive.

  2. Tiffany says:

    I have been reading your blog for awhile and am so intrigued by your journey – I am a pediatric oncology nurse and really believe it to be my big “calling” on this earth, but I am also a mom and also have my own business, so you know – life is crazy! I often think about these same questions. Now I don’t have the cancer survivor thing, but I can relate to the question of how to describe myself – I am always worried that if I mention the Pediatric oncology thing before the mom thing, others will judge and think I am a mediocre mom, when in reality, the career and calling only make me a better mom and make the time I spend with my children even more valuable and intimate. I your case, even though it must feel like you are defined by the cancer survivor role, I have to say that is something foundational that I can only imagine has really dramatically affected how you do each of your other roles and most likely makes you better because of your appreciation for life, so I would continue to wear it proud as just ONE of the aspects of who you are! I like the idea above of using quick labels. They speak for themselves!

    Thanks for sharing your journey – I can really appreciate from the caregiver perspective, what you are going through and love your transparency.

  3. Sara says:

    Sweet heart, it all makes you you. Nothing is irrevelant that is true. If I were you, I would list it all, everywhere. The phd, the cancer, the kids, because while some is more important than others. It’s ALL important, and all of it has mixed into the colors that are you.

  4. canape says:

    Meet Susan. She is a mother, a wife, and a daughter. Having earned her PhD and landed her dream job at NASA before she even turned 30, Susan restructured her priorities in order to spend a little less time in the office and a little more time watching her two boys grow up.

    Susan is a volunteer, a friend, and a writer. When she isn’t taking in beagles waiting for their forever home, you might find her writing for one of her many blogs, working on one of her book projects, or simply writing another email to a friend who needs encouragement.

    Susan is a survivor and an activist. Having recently won a battle with IBC and Pagett’s, Susan turned her war on cancer into the internet’s war on cancer. She has inspired hundreds of bloggers to help spread the facts about Inflammatory Breast Cancer, appeared on news programs, and was featured in Health magazine in their June 2008 issue.

    Susan is a woman. She is accomplished, intelligent, strong, beautiful, nurturing, and wise.
    That is the bio I would write for you. The survivor part gets its own paragraph only because this is for BlogHer and you are speaking on the healing panel.


  5. Noregrets says:

    I’d say ‘thinky’ is the key word. Not just experiencing life, but thinking about it and conveying those thoughts. And not letting life pass her by – grabbing onto the tailgate and running along with it.

  6. Missy says:

    I have trouble writing these things as well. canape’s is pretty awesome. I think the cancer bit should be included, but it’s not the whole package.

  7. Very thought provoking. With a few exceptions, I think many women juggling multiple priorities feel fractured. For me, in a way, I like the fractured-ness sometimes. If I can identify which part of me is “on” at that moment in time, it helps me focus on that and not worry (as much) about the other stuff rattling around in the back of my head. Canape’s bio is really lovely because it comes as close as one can to describing the all of you, or as much as one can in a bio.

  8. […] the terror of realizing that this year I had cancer.  And even though I barely recognize myself after all the treatments, it could come back at any […]

  9. whymommy says:

    Too, too sweet. I think the bio just brought it all to the fore. Cancer has been with me every day for the past year, and it has been a most unwelcome guest. I have learned to harness it to do good in the world, but I still resent its presence. I do. I guess that’s something else to work over in my mind and on these pages. Thanks, y’all.

    (And Canape, if I hadn’t just finished that darn thing, I’d send yours in! Thanks!)

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