29 Aug 2011

Beer and Licorice

Our website is now nine months old - a fitting number to celebrate of the arrival of yet another addition to our family this year - another "pink" one...Welcome to the world, baby Lailah!
When my sister and I created SunflowerSisters, our intention was simply to try to help ovarian cancer patients live more fully with and inspite of their disease. We've been able to track, through a Google Analytics application, statistics indicating that to date, we've had almost 2,000 visitors to the site from 37 different countries. We have the ability to fine tune these statistics to differentiate the real visitors from the accidental - i.e. the ability to identify users who have read several pages and stayed on the site for more than one or two seconds. We can track how a person finds the site - do they use a keyword search, if so, what is the keyword and then that information gives us a clue as to what subjects are important to our readers. But, with all of this intelligence, we were never sure that we were reaching our intended audience...until recently.
We received a most moving letter from an OVCa patient who, after repeated recurrences, had taken our website page on Palliative Care to her doctor and had "the talk". By "the talk" I mean the end-of-life discussion - the decision to cease treatment - the planning of the final stage of this earthly journey. We were deeply taken with the calm, serenity and acceptance underlying her words but above all, profoundly grateful for her thanks to us for the help the site had provided. At last, we had the most humbling realization that the work had reached a SunflowerSister and was indeed worthwhile.
I thought of her every day imagining how the disease must have finally overtaken her and wondering at the courage required for her to come to that conclusion.
AND THEN...two weeks later, I received another email from her telling us that incredibly, her latest CT scan showed no metastasization to any vital organs, that the cancer was contained in her abdomen and that it was indeed possible for her to resume treatment! She said that she cried like a baby - well, we did too with that most remarkable news. So, tear up the bucket list and forget the going-away party!
Was it her acceptance? Was it her complete letting go? Was it simply her decision to live with the dis-ease of the disease? Whatever or whoever the reason, she is, no doubt re-born.
As a post script - after her initial contact with us, I had replied to her with a whole string of questions about her journey including asking if she had any specific dietary regimes to recommend...her answer was - "drink a beer and have a couple of red Twizzlers (licorice sticks) every night."

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