My BlogHer

@jessicaapiss @teachmama @whymommy @techsavvymama @justicefergieBlogHer ’10 was glittery and sparkly and full of teh awesome.  There’s little debate about that.  But I dare say that everyone experienced a slightly different BlogHer — some were all about the sessions.  Some were all about the parties.  Some were all about the brands and the expos and the building of professional connections.  And some just went to hang out with their friends in the city that never sleeps.

As my three-year-old says, often, “that is okay.”

My BlogHer was a heady mix of community, friendship, altruism, and victory lap.  As you may know, I was first diagnosed with cancer  just before BlogHer ’07, and it broke my heart.  For many reasons, of course, but I found it profoundly unfair that while my internet friends (and friends in real life) were partying it up in a fancy hotel, I was partying it up in the chemo ward, getting that poision dripped into my veins in an attempt to kill the cancer that was trying to kill me. 

After a year of treatment, BlogHer ’08 was my victory lap.  I still remember standing up to ask a question in the first session, titled, “Is MommyBlogging Still a Radical Act?” and introducing myself, to cheers — cheers that every blogger got, I’m sure, but I heard as cheers that I was still alive.  I pressed on, and at BlogHer ’09 I was blissfully just like every other blogger, doing some things right, making some mistakes, but just there with my friends from my neighborhood and my BlogHerhood, learning together, and enjoying ourselves.

Fast forward to BlogHer 10.  This year was another challenge.  From the very moment I was diagnosed with a recurrence of my cancer, I worried, “What about BlogHer?”  Isn’t that ridiculous?  But for all the time I spend online, from my bed while I recover or my desk while I work away, nothing compares to the opportunity to hug people I only know by their avatar, to meet new people I love by chance, and to network with people who think in the same ways (although rarely in the same directions) that I do.  I had my surgery.  I did my radiation.  I struggled, I struggled to become well enough to join my friends on the trip, but I was never really sure that I could.

Radiation hit me hard.  Really hard.  I didn’t get out much, near the end there.  For five and a half weeks before BlogHer, I didn’t drive.  I didn’t leave the house, except for treatment and the rare dinner out with my family.  I cancelled standing Moms Club field trips (to the Building Museum! To the American History Museum! To Air and Space!) left and right, with more than a pang of regret each time.  Each week, I hoped I could make it the next week — but the next week found me confined to the recliner, doing jigsaw puzzles with the children as my mind and my body recovered from the brutality of daily radiation.  But still, I clung to BlogHer.

We planned to leave on Wednesday, @techsavvymama and I, taking the train to NY to spend the first evening with the American Cancer Society and the Blogger Advisory Council.  I bought my ticket. I made plans.  But I didn’t pack.  The Thursday before BlogHer, I went to my oncologist for my scan results.  Would there be cancer? Would it have spread? Would I have to start chemo immediately?  No.  I was blessed with clean scans, and the beautiful words, “No Evidence of Disease.” 

I celebrated.  I pushed myself. I packed, and drove, and shopped for a pretty dress to wear for our panel and my keynote speech.  I left the house every day, with the kids, and pushed so that I would be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of four days with 2500 women, women using their voices to make a difference and say, “I’m here. I exist. Even with my challenges, I am not giving up.”

That’s what BlogHer is about for me.  All of us admitting the thing that makes us imperfect, and pushing on anyway.  I want to tell you all so much about the weekend — about friends, about community, about sessions, about activists, about everyday women making a difference with their words — and I shall, but today I have just one thing to say:

We exist.  We have challenges.  And we do not give up.

On Friday night, with the help of many, many friends (which I hope to detail in the next post), I stood before an audience of 2000 women bloggers and a few men and read my post, “In the Name of Awareness.”

It wasn’t easy.  It was in fact really, really challenging to even have the strength to walk down to the ballroom, up to the stage, and to the podium.  But I didn’t do it alone.  I had the strength of The DC Moms to help me and hold me up, both physically and in spirit, and we got ‘er done.  We did not give up.

And, you may be glad to know, I wore my gold shoes.

Speaking at Blogher 10 Voices of the Year. In gold shoes. (credit: @teachmama)

pictures from @teachmama


22 Responses to My BlogHer

  1. I could not be more proud of you had I birthed you myself. xxoo

  2. magpie says:

    You are the bomb. I’m sorry we didn’t get to hang out more.

  3. fuuuudge girl, you always make me cry

    but they’re always happy tears!

    being there with you in the City this week, i couldn’t help but be constantly praying “thank you for keeping her well, thank you for keeping the cancer out, don’t you dare do that again to her jesus, i’m warning you!”

    because you know how He just totes digs the threats!!

    i love you i love you.

  4. Stacey says:

    It was such a delight and honor to hear your speech and get to meet you! And I loved your gold shoes! Thank you for shining your beautiful light in the world!

  5. Lynn from says:

    Before I set foot at Blogher, I told myself that meeting you was my main goal. I could not leave Blogher without giving you a (gentle) hug. Talk about wishes fulfilled: you were the very first person I bumped into, and the photo of us together is the first of many pics I snapped at Blogher!

  6. Florinda says:

    It seems like every year at BlogHer, there’s someone I see everywhere – this year it was you, and I’m glad it was! I just wish we’d been able to talk a bit more. Your keynote was wonderful – it got me all choked up.

    I agree with you that – probably more so this year than ever before – BlogHer was different for everyone. I suspect that if the conference keeps growing, that will become increasingly true. But I also agree with your three-year-old: “That is okay.”

  7. Richard Foster says:

    You sure do look good at that podium. I am glad you are recovering so quickly and that you have such great support. Do you think you will make it to Oregon?

  8. Melissa says:

    Such an honor to meet you at BlogHer this year! Many congrats again on being named as one of the Voices of Year, which is so very richly deserved. Your panel was also wonderful, and your post will always be one that makes me cry, no matter how many times I read it. One of my favorites, of all time, of all posts.

  9. Stimey says:

    You are incredibly strong.

  10. marty says:

    Saying again. So proud.

  11. Celeste Lindell says:

    It was so wonderful to see you again this year! Your Voices of the Year reading was amazing.

  12. Scary Mommy says:

    You are ah-maz-ing. And, you are so right– we all get different things out of the weekend and that’s ok. It’s better than ok!

  13. […] a picture.  I was so shot by that point that I have no idea who it was or where it is, and “that is ok.”  I crashed on the bed, and I rested, my body vibrating with exhaustion from the parties […]

  14. Issa says:

    I never managed to track you down and tell you how moving your keynote was, but I feel honored to have been in that room listening to it that night. You did phenomenal.

    And your 3 year old? Genius. We make it what it needs to be for us. And it’s okay.

  15. Capital Mom says:

    I was sorry to only catch the end of your reading because I was moving rooms and had to check back in. But as I sat down at my table I saw that everyone around me was crying as you spoke. You really moved them.

    I was at your session and I thought you did a great job.

    BlogHer really is different things to different people. I am glad that for you it was something positive. It was for me too.

  16. Dawniemom says:

    I pushed through my own challenges to make it down to that ballroom to hear you, my friend. I’m so very proud and happy for you- I stood and clapped and wiped the tears and found myself SO grateful that I finally got to MEET YOU. I love that you came, that you kicked ass, that you wore your gold shoes. Thank you for all of it, Susan, because you helped make MY BlogHer experience something I will never forget.

  17. You are so beautiful.

  18. Denise says:

    One of the best moments of BlogHer 08, for me, was being in the elevator with you. I will never forget the moment that I realized it was you. You were there. For real.

    And listening to you read your post at the Community Keynote this year was a very similar feeling.

    You are amazing!

  19. yeah, have to admit even I felt goosebumps watching your speech. and I’m not a goosebumps kind of guy.

    frankly, I think cancer was kind of stupid to be messing with you in the first place.

  20. You brought tears to my eyes during your speech and rocked those gold shoes everywhere you went! I was just so happy to get to spend the weekend with you like we had planned to do so long ago at Jessica’s!

  21. so proud of you. so happy we were able to hang out, giggle, dance, dance some more, eat, chat, and relax together. WHAT a weekend!

  22. jodifur says:

    You are, quite simply, the person I want to be.

    And don’t discount my radical shoe blog. It could happen.

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