Transitions

Believe it or not, I was a social media dabbler before I started this blog three years ago. I even live tweeted my mammogram. Team Pink Ribbon spa ha holy shit The difference? I had about 30 followers at the time. There were no replies, no retweets to my story. I was tweeting into the void. Once I started my blog, I took my social media dabbling to a whole other level. I was just a gal with stage 3 cancer, a 10% chance of living 5 years, and nothing much to lose. So I opened a second twitter account under the name “@chemo_babe” to keep my identity hidden. I got some traction in the twitter world on the eve of my second or third chemo. I was besides myself with anxiety, having suffered terrible side effects from the first dose alone. I found the hashtag #blamecancer, started by Drew Olanoff. Drew was moved by my tweets, started retweeting me, rallying others to support me. It was a phenomenal experience in the midst of a lot of suffering, this sudden embrace by total strangers who showed compassion for my plight. To be sure, my blog has been a lifeline. Paradoxically, the anonymity I started out with helped it to be so. Hiding behind this persona, I could be as brutally honest as I needed to be. In doing so, I spoke truths that resonated with others and helped me connect with other patients, caregivers, and doctors. It has been an education that I truly value. Over time, I found the amazing #bcsm community. With the coaxing of supportive friends, I gradually “came out,” using my first name and eventually my second. I started getting media attention, locally, nationally, and even internationally. Soon everyone who could google¬† knew that ChemoBabe was Lani Horn, just as anybody reading Marvel Comics knew that Superman was Clark Kent or Spider Man was Peter Parker. When I finished my last procedure this past May, my old twitter pal Drew sent his congratulations and tweeted, “Are you going to change your twitter handle now?” Then answer at that time was no. I have built a community through this identity. I have thousands of twitter followers and Facebook fans, tens of thousands of blog hits. Then a few weeks ago, I woke up and felt like the answer had changed. Yes, I tweet a lot about cancer. But I also connect with knitting buddies and fellow parents. I livetweet awesome, tragic, and inane cultural events along with my pals. “Chemobabe” seemed to narrow and burdened by the past. I went back to my old, hardly used twitter account and hijacked that name. I am now @Lanisia, a nickname my uncle still uses for me. It’s a name I made up when I was 3 and I told my stepfather I was a princess. “What’s your name, Princess?” “I am Princess Lanisia.” My old pretend name thus supplants my newer one, Lanisia taking over for ChemoBabe. All of this pretend seems fitting for this ephemeral electronic world of blogs, tweets, and status updates, where bonds are made, experiences shared, and connections forged in the in-between spaces of our lives.  
 

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