Real Loss in a Virtual World

Yesterday I awoke to the news that fellow blogger, activist and survivor Rachel Cheetham Moro (@ccchronicles) had died of breast cancer. Young, passionate, so full of vim and vigor…the news that she is gone is devastating. Rachel was one of those crucial voices who fought until the end to keep us thinking and asking. She fought with gloves off, and laid bare both the reality of living with metastatic breast cancer and the political insanity that surrounds the disease. She is deeply missed. I met Rachel through the weekly #bcsm chat, and she died on a Monday, I think we were all grateful to have that evening’s chat to connect with each other and share our loss.

Before chat came around last evening, however, we were hit with another dose of devastating news – the death of another one of our own, Susan Niebur (@whymommy), of inflammatory breast cancer. Susan, a young mother who so eloquently shared the emotional journey of living with and parenting through cancer, with a commitment to embracing love and laughter. The ways in which she embraced life couldn’t help but bubble off the pages of her blog. Her sparkle will live on in our memories.

We know full well that this disease doesn’t discriminate in favor of those who are articulate, powerful, clear voices who ring out against the political insanity that surrounds breast cancer. That has never been clearer than it was yesterday. We have ALL lost two important women, and they will not be forgotten.

If there is a blessing in the midst of this insanity, it is the way the #bcsm community has rallied in support of one another. Together we are figuring out how to mourn in a “virtual” world: a world in which many have shared intimately and openly with those they have never met face to face; a world in which laughter and anger, hope and fear can be discussed openly, lovingly and safely; a world where silence is terrifying because we don’t know what’s happening; a world for which we have no protocols or guides for how we mourn. I know a number of #bcsm bloogers have paid tribute to these women today, and I am honored to be among them.

There was other news today…the resignation of Komen’s Public Policy Vice President Karen Handel, who left the agency in the midst of heated controversy over the allocation of grants. It’s something else we need to talk about; it is a step, but just ONE step. But right now, with a heavy heart and tears that keep springing to my eyes, it will have to keep.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liza Bernstein (@itsthebunk)
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 10:22:12

    So beautifully said. Thank you.


  2. Jackie
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 10:30:35

    I am so sorry for your loss, and our loss. Wishing you and all those who mourn them my deepest sympathies.


  3. AnneMarie (@chemobrainfog)
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 10:46:02

    The social media community is as powerful as it gets for me. No pretense, no one pushing an agenda, just pure support and the respectful flow of ideas despite the differences that we may share within the group (political, religious, WHATEVER). We seem to grasp that we are ALL in this together and the only way we can effect any real change is by working together.

    Your words are eloquent and I can’t imagine this was easy for you to write.

    Much love,


  4. zapladybug
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 12:32:20

    Simply beautiful. Thank you.


  5. Kathleen Hoffman
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 22:38:11

    I’m sorry that I missed #bcsm last night. I read about losing these two wonderful women this morning and have been feeling the loss since. Thank you for posting this!


  6. Nancy's Point
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 06:27:27

    Thanks for the post. These losses are so hard. I can’t think “Komen thoughts” this week. I just cannot.


  7. jbaird
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 18:45:50

    Rachel and Susan defined the word “special.” Their passing is almost too much to bear, no! it IS too much to bear. Thanks for posting this beautiful tribute to women who will be missed by countless readers and supporters. XOXO Jan


  8. PinkKitchen (@PinkKitchen)
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 06:04:35

    I agree, social media has enabled me to be touched by so many beautiful fellow survivors that otherwise, I might never have met. Thanks for this beautiful post. We will truly miss these women.


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