BlogHer ’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.
pictures from @teachmama