Building the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) Community

Yes, I’m a member of the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility community).  I wouldn’t say I’m exactly thrilled to be a member, but I’m proud of the women I know through this community and how hard they fight and advocate for what comes so easily for others.

JJiraffe is one of those awesome, brave, amazing women. She has started a series of posts focusing on the real faces of the ALI community, hoping to provide a counterpoint to the sensational coverage in most mainstream newspapers (looking at you, NY Times).  Her goal is to get 1000 views on her current post featuring Sarah’s endometriosis and adoption story because she believes (and I agree) that the more we are able to get the true stories of ALI out there, the greater the understanding and empathy will be.  I empathize very much with Sarah’s story because severe endometriosis is one of my issues and while I haven’t lost an ovary, I have lost a tube to it.

So if anyone other than my cats (I have very advanced felines) reads this blog, please click over to JJiraffe’s post on Sarah and help her reach her goal of 1000 views.

Cancer, Steve Jobs and Truly Helping

Steve Jobs passed away tonight.  He had most recently been battling a rare form of pancreatic cancer, a cancer that hits pretty damn close to home for my family and others lately.  I was an Apple hold-out for a long time, but my first Apple product was the iPod Nano.  When the iPhone came out, I was dismissive.  I would never use a phone to surf the Internet.  Then I played with one in an Apple store and was hooked.  Three iPhones, two iPads and one MacBook Air later, we are almost 100% an Apple family (I’m typing this post on a 6 year old HP laptop).  I admired Steve’s vision and innovation.  He truly changed how we interact with everything from music to the Internet. 

He died in October, which is also breast cancer awareness month.  While last month’s Facebook meme about breast cancer seems to have faded away, I’m seeing tweets daily about breast cancer awareness and most of them are inocuous which is the problem.  If you want to raise awareness, that’s great.  Sure, we’ll be more aware that cancer exists.  But wouldn’t you rather DO something? Do something that could potentially help find a treatment for cancer?  Last night, someone I follow on Twitter tweeted whether she should add a pink streak to her hair for breast cancer awareness and asked yes or no.  Several others tweeted back versions of “yes, cool!”  I responded, “No.  Donate $$$ to research instead.”  She responded a tiny bit defensively but said she would dye and donate.  Ok.  Detente achieved.

I’m no role model.  I’ve walked on ONE Komen walk.  I need to do more with the American Heart Association for my father, but I’m just so tired of the easy, feel-good actions being pushed.    As the recent Babble MomCrunch article pointed out, a lot of brands grab on to breast cancer awareness but contribute very little of  your purchase.  What I really want everyone to do is the think critically and do something meaningful that will make a difference.

A few links of interest:

Tonight, I made belated donations to those groups.  Will you or will you dye your hair instead and hope that helps find treatments for cancer?

How Facebook Can Raise Awareness of Just How Thoughtless and Ignorant You Are

You’ve probably heard about the latest Facebook game to raise awareness of breast cancer, asking women to post how many weeks they are and what they are craving. Last year’s game was about the color of your bra and where you left your purse. Somehow, these cryptic status updates are supposed to raise awareness of breast cancer. This year’s weeks/craving meme has the unintended effect of making all of your friends and family wonder if you are pregnant and questioning the status of their relationship with you if they were out of the loop on such monumental news and had to learn it from your Facebook status. It has also caused quite a stir in the infertility blogosphere.

I know it is tempting to write off all of us who disagree with this meme as curmudgeons, but guess what – even those suffering from breast cancer aren’t fans of these types of memes.

Normally I would just roll my eyes at the lemmings participating without giving a moment’s thought to what they are doing and whether it even makes sense, but this particular meme impacts me in two ways: as an infertile, it dredges up those feelings that Mel wrote about in her post as well as someone who is much more acquainted with cancer than she would like to be.

A year ago yesterday, my coworker died of prostate cancer only one year after his diagnosis. He tried to work as long as possible, so we saw the deterioration, the brutal effects of his chemotherapy. There was a month in which he couldn’t sit down the entire day because of intense pain. We shared the highs and lows as he received a bit of good news and then bad news and then really, really bad news.

Last December, my mother was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous tumor in her breast. Thankfully, it turned out not to be cancer, but it is something she will need to have removed, and having watched her mother die of breast cancer, it weighed heavily on her mind.

Last January, my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 gastrointestinal cancer and died one month later before being able to start treatment.

And most recently, my grandmother-in-law is recovering from pancreatic cancer at age 88. This strong woman has endured 12 weeks of chemo and surgery.

And a dear friend is reeling as her father is beginning his battle after his recent diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. If you want to help raise awareness, please consider participating in her fundraiser via the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

So you know what? Cancer isn’t funny. It’s serious, and if you really want to raise awareness, donate money to the American Cancer Society or participate in a Komen walk (I did). If you really think that posting a Facebook status is going to make one bit of difference in the fight against cancer, then I urge you to read this excellent book about the history of cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. It will spell out starkly just how far we are from having a cure for almost any type of cancer.