Fellow blogger Nancy Stordahl has challenged me to blog hop. As you’ll read, I’ve never done one of these before. I have to admit, I was rather surprised at what I discovered about myself.  See if you agree.

Who are you?
I wonder about this a lot, post cancer. I once was certain about who I was, but now I’m not sure at all. I’d love to be an Audrey Hepburn character living in Paris, driving a red Mini Cooper around the Arc de Triomphe and living in an apartment with ornate pickled-wood paneling and door-like French windows that overlook some busy Parisian street, hanging out with artists and art gallery owners and spending brooding afternoons along the Seine drinking rich, velvety coffee at an outdoor café. Hepburn died of a rare cancer at the age of 63, only a bit older than I am now. She was deeply compassionate and left a brilliant legacy based on the work she did with UNICEF, bringing the plight of those living in poverty and victims of political upheaval and starvation to the world’s attention.
It’s unlikely at my age that dream will come true (although her legacy gives me food for thought). Now I think I’d rather be the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, running around yelling “Off with their heads!” and “Here it takes all the running you can just to stay in place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast.”
“Where do you come from? And where are you going?” the Red Queen asks Alice, who admits she’s lost her way.
I fear I am more like Alice and less like the Red Queen, despite my aspirations.

Share anything you want about your cancer (type, stage, when diagnosed, whatever.) Share something about yourself such as where you live, the name of your blog and it’s “mission”, a challenge you have faced or are facing now, or whatever you want.
I have metastatic breast cancer, which is a chronic disease until it’s not chronic; then it becomes terminal. I was first diagnosed in 2011, then had a recurrence in 2015. My blog is called Breast Cancer Conscript because I feel I’ve been drafted into a war I have no appetite for and yet now am in a battle for my life. As you can tell, I don’t have an issue with the battle metaphor when it comes to characterizing my plight with the disease. It’s the closest I can relate to a military veteran who has experienced a life beyond the ordinary. Navy Seal (and disgraced Missouri governor) Eric Grietens, author of Resilience, puts it best when he writes:
“The front-line was where battles were fought and fates decided. The front-line was a place of fear, struggle and suffering. It was also a place where victories were won, where friendships of a lifetime were forged in hardship. It was a place where we lived with a sense of purpose.
But front-line isn’t just a military term. You have front-line in your life now. In fact everyone has a place where they encounter fear, where they struggle, suffer and face hardship. We all have battles to fight. If you want to win any meaningful kind of victory, you’ll have to fight for it.”
My blog focuses on that fight, including just getting through a day, getting through other life-bombarding tragedies, helping to shape public policy so that it leads healthier outcomes for all of us and hopefully one day for a cure, bringing to light promising research, advice for overcoming some of the issues cancer patients face – from how to make a living while also tending the disease to how to deal with mind-boggling health insurance issues.

Have you ever participated in a blog hop before?
I’ve participated in a sock hop, a bunny hop but never a blog hop before.

What’s your favorite sort of blog post to write and/or read – personal story, informational, how to, controversial, political, opinion, rant or other?
I like to read stories and tell stories and find new ways to do that, whether it’s through pictures, sounds or lame videos I’ve made or any other novel approaches to storytelling. I’m always experimenting and looking to others who experiment.

Describe yourself in three words. Yes, just three!
Stirred the pot.

Name three of your favorite books from your youth (whatever age that means to you.) that had an impact on you.
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold

What’s your favorite dessert of all time?
Anything dark-chocolate based that includes a cappuccino along the left bank of the Seine under a starry sky at midnight.

Tell us about a special pet you have, had, or would like to have. (Never wanted a pet, that’s okay too.)
I had an Australian shepherd-German short-haired pointer mixed pound puppy named Nietzsche when I was a single, young woman. He used to eat my boyfriend’s underwear and loved to run alongside me when I biked along the river, his tongue hanging out like a ladle. He had a very independent nature (my mother called him “willful”). One night he ran off, not returning until mid-morning, despite my all-night, desperate search for him. His face was swollen from bee stings. I just took him to the vet, letting the secret of the night’s excursion reside with him alone.

What’s something people don’t know about you and might be surprised to learn?
I’m the sewer commissioner in my hometown. My motto: The shit runs through me.

Do you believe healthcare is a privilege or a right?
Right, hands down. And I work hard to secure that right for EVERYONE.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging and/or reading blogs?
I like the connection and the community, but most of all, I love the changes blogging can bring about, from increased research funding to public policy initiatives. Every piece a blogger writes is one step closer to a cure for cancer.

What’s something you really suck at?
What’s something I don’t suck at? is a better question.

What’s something you’re pretty good at?
I’m really good at sucking.

How do you escape from cancer (or life in general) worries?
Ah, if such a thing were actually possible. Cancer is like a shadow, so it’s nearly impossible to escape. I call it “the enemy within” and my goal is to make peace with it until I can annihilate it completely (and I do hold out hope for that day) which helps to relieve any worry I feel about it. Running and staying physically active keeps me sane. Humor keeps me from driving off a cliff.

Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson

Writer. Blogger. Advocate. Breast Cancer Conscript.