Thoughts on Twitter, Community, and Loss

Today I had the privilege of attending a memorial service for a woman that I met only once. I initially got to know her on twitter. I attended the memorial service with 2 women who I also met on twitter.

Yes, twitter.

If you had asked me about twitter 2 years ago, I would have said that it was about celebrities talking about what they had for lunch. I wasn’t interested, and I certainly didn’t have the time. For various reasons I set up an account, started listening, and then started tweeting and interacting. And in doing so I stumbled upon the most remarkable community. Not just a group, and so much more than a chat – a real community. I got to know some incredible people. Online.  A common criticism of online interactions is that they are superficial and not “real”.  My experience has been the complete opposite. We’re drawn to each other on twitter due to common experiences and common goals. Those relationships and bonds are solid, made even more so when we have the opportunity to meet “in real life”. We are there for each other, during good times and bad, for better or worse. We are #FearlessFriends.

Donna Peach passed away due to metastatic breast cancer on March 26, 2013.  I initially got to know Donna her through her blog. She was a gifted writer, as well as a dancer and so much more.  One thing that was clear from her writing was that she loved life and everything about it. When we met approximately 2 months ago, even though she was suffering due to the progression of her disease, we were all struck by her beautiful smile and her incredible spirit. She touched us all – I made the comment after we met that it seemed like Donna had done a little bit of everything – and all of it with a huge smile on her face. Lori wrote about the meetup, capturing Donna’s spirit.  I would never have met Lori if it were not for twitter, and we live less than 10 miles apart. Carmen also accompanied us to the service today – another lovely addition to my life. Jody, Alicia, and too many more to mention. All because of twitter. They have touched me personally and professionally.  I cannot imagine my life without these women.

The tears we cried today at Donna’s service were real. The hugs we shared were real. The sentiments expressed today by those that knew her well were the same that Lori, Carmen and I expressed. Don’t let anyone tell you that online relationships are not real. Some of them are. I only knew Donna for a short time, but I am grateful for the interaction that we had. I will treasure the memories and will remember her spirit.

Rest in peace, Donna Peach.

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21 thoughts on “Thoughts on Twitter, Community, and Loss

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  2. Beautifully put. It’s still striking to me that the twitter (and particularly the #bcsm) community is what it is, and not at all what I thought it would be…..like so many things. As far as the loss of Donna, I keep hearing in my head the line from Finding Nemo: “I can’t hear ya, Peach!” We will all miss hearing her.

  3. Many of the friendships we make online are very real indeed, as is the genuine love and support that comes from them. Knowing that others who care and understand are only a click away truly makes a difference in so many ways, and I am grateful every single day to be part of such a community. Thank you for being right there with us, my #FearlessFriend.

    I want to thank you and the others for attending Donna’s service. I’m so glad you got to meet her. She will be greatly missed. We will not forget.

    • Thank you for your comments, Nancy – indeed it is comforting to know that so many supporters are just a click away. I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to meet Donna and to honor her memory at the memorial service. And fortunate that I had the company of both Lori and Carmen as well.

  4. This a a beautiful post, Deanna. Yesterday I was so moved at the great respect and honor the three of you demonstrated by joining Donna’s family at her memorial service. And I never met her physically, only through #BCSM then through your description of the LA tweet-up she attended. Somehow the journey Donna took that day – to meet with the women of #BCSM – says it all.

    We celebrate together, we mourn together.

    I can’t thank you enough for everything you do.

    • Thank you, Jody – we all work hard to make the community what it is – which is why it is so special. Thank you and Alicia for starting something so amazing.

  5. I did not know Donna except to read her blog fairly recently. So it was a tremendous shock to know she passed away.
    The friendships we make that are generated through Twitter (though I admit I really don’t use twitter) to blogging. There is a definite connection and abiding friendships that grow into love.. Of course we can’t have the same with everyone however a deep abiding respect YES. I have made some wonderful friendships through blogging. A few I have lost through death. Their leaving is as palpable as if I had lost my dearest girlfriend I had known for years in person . These are established genuine meeting through words and connecting spiritually…
    . . Thank You for being there for Donna, Each and everyone else was there also through you through your beautiful eloquent words..
    Love Alli XXX

  6. Dr. Attai,

    What a wonderful post! I agree that Twitter is a vehicle for REAL relationships. I would’ve never crossed your path had it not been for Twitter and #BCSM. I’m so grateful to know such a fine person as you. Thank you for your caring and for being at Donna’s service.

  7. Deanna, what a beautiful post. I am so moved by your sharing with us that the three of you went to Donna’s service. Donna’s blog was was so special. She had so may sides to her life including her dance, choreography, poetry, and her participation with #BCSM meetings giving great insight and ideas about what is so important from the perspective of a metastatic patient. She also had so many other gifted talents.

    I miss reading Donna’s blog every day and I was always so excited to see her joining us for so many #BCSM meetings on Monday nights, no matter how she was feeling or what she was going through. Her devoted husband Marvin is so incredible. He was so much a part of the grace and dignity she expressed as she dealt with this terrible disease. Her death is a continued reminder that we must get mets out of the closet and let the public know the truth about this deadly disease.

    I am also so touched with how many beautiful professional and personal relationships that have happened to you and so many others as a result of Twitter with the #BCSM community that you created with Alicia and Jody. Thanks to you, so many people affected by breast cancer have a place to share and grow. The guests and topics are always uplifting. I am so impressed that as a Dr. you are aware of the important relevance social media has. You are such an inspiration as a dedicated Dr. to your patients and so many other people touch by breast cancer. I am in awe of you.

    We miss Donna. We will continue to do everything we can to see that this disease stops robbing us of so many beautiful people including Donna Peach. Thank you Deanna for all that you do. You are amazing.

  8. I’m so glad you three were there to honor Donna, who gave us all so much. Our online community is such a blessing. I’m grateful for it every single day. Thank you for representing us all.

  9. Thank you all so much for your comments. In my opinion the best way to honor Donna’s memory, and that of the many other women who die due to metastatic breast cancer, is to continue the discussion, and continue to push for more research for prevention or effective treatments for metastatic breast cancer.

  10. Pingback: A Standing Ovation for Donna Peach – #BCSM

  11. Pingback: Guest Post: Lori on the #BCSM Community – #BCSM

  12. Pingback: How Fabulous Is This Group?? | drattai

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