Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Reverb 10 – Day 7 / Prompt Author: caligater)

I started 2010 with my thoughts on community.

I enjoy my friends individually, but I missed belonging to a circle of friends. It’s been a long time since I had local friends who were friends with each other. It’s even more complicated now that some have kids, and some don’t. Schedules don’t sync up, we go weeks without seeing each other, and I end up craving grownup conversation.  I was looking for a community to join at the beginning of the year.  Specifically, I was looking for a writers’ group.

Cancer made a difference.

I was having grownup conversations with my doctors that no one should have to have. But cancer also led me to a circle of women, all breast cancer survivors, who would become my friends. At least twice a month I connect with other women, many with babies and young children, who understand what I’m going through. This community is not only helping me through this difficult diagnosis, it is addressing issues that existed before I knew I had cancer.

As I look ahead to 2011

I plan to find more communities. I am going to renew my search for a good writers’ group;  I need the writing practice, and I thoroughly enjoyed my previous experience belonging to a writers’ group.

But there is something else that has been weighing on my heart since my diagnosis. Cancer support groups tend to be divided up by diagnosis, and they tend to be exclusive.  Every day I count myself fortunate that my cancer cells first attacked my breast. Breast cancer is a popular cause, and while there is still so much need, most support groups and services are exclusively dedicated to breast cancer survivors.

Sure, most women with cancer happen to have breast cancer, but that is no comfort for the 29-year-old single mom in a support group full of 60-year-old men because she has rectal cancer. Would you want to discuss your chemo induced menopause in that environment? She’s receiving many of the same chemo drugs, and the radiation differs just in location. That young woman has no access to the Komen funds that help pay the rent of breast cancer survivors, or the house keeping services for breast cancer survivors, or the circle of young moms battling breast cancer.  Fundraisers for ‘Save the Ta-Tas,’  T.I.T.S. (Two in the Shirt), and any number of other tongue in cheek parties that combine boobs with booze fill our social calendars, but nobody wants to go to a save the rectums party. Just because the cancer cells first attacked her caboose instead of her headlights, this young woman is excluded from an amazing array of cancer coping resources.  And she is not alone.  Millions are in the same predicament.

So let’s bring those millions together.

Or, as far as the Seattle area is concerned, lets bring those hundreds together.

I want to create a community for young adults with cancer, especially mothers of young children, that is inclusive rather than exclusive.

And then I want to find a way to help get them the kind of amazing support, financial and otherwise, that I have received as a breast cancer survivor.


You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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