from slactivist to breast cancer resource center volunteer (guest post)

One of my goals with this site has always been to get people talking about things that are historically "hush-hush" (such as infertility, miscarriages, and the like) in the hopes we can shatter the stigma and openly support each other, both women and men. This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of guest blogs. - Kara

From Slactivist to Breast Cancer Resource Center Volunteer
by Catherine Emmerling

A little over one month ago, I was relaxing on my flight home from San Francisco. As I casually scrolled through my friends’ Facebook statuses, Kara’s status update caught my eye. Her simple, straightforward plea was as follows:

(Editor's note: I posted this because I was sick of reading all those mass copy and paste memes of "A cancer patient has only one wish: that you repost this status update for Christmas." This update was me calling "shenanigans" on folks.)

I knew all at once that her status was a sign. This sign was one of many, not the least of which was the truth: that I had become a slactivist. Due to my current unemployment status, I have described myself as a professional time waster, which I am afraid is synonymous with slactivism.

Another sign was a conversation I had with my sister, on that very day about how I really wanted—and needed—to volunteer. So I emailed Kara and asked her for suggestions for where I could volunteer. Apparently, my slactivism includes not being able to google on my own. Needless to say, Kara gave me some excellent suggestions. These suggestions included Komen Inland Empire and Michelle’s Place.

Located in Murrietta, Calif., Michelle's Place is
dedicated to supporting to those living with breast
cancer concerns. Follow them on Twitter.
I will be honest: cancer makes me nervous, uncomfortable and it scares the heck out of me.

Not only because I am afraid that I will get it someday, but also, because it reminds me of the people who I have lost and who are still fighting this horrible disease. So, it is not an exaggeration to say that I was apprehensive as I walked into Michelle’s Place for the Volunteer Orientation meeting. Michelle’s mother began to tell her daughter's story. My anxiety grew. Michelle’s mother and others were beginning to cry.

That is when I realized that Michelle and I are the same age. Correction: We were the same age. We might still be the same age if one of her doctors had listened to her. Michelle went to two different doctors because of the lump that she found in her breast at the age of 23. They didn’t listen. Michelle’s dying wish (at the age of 26) was the creation of a breast cancer resource center. Her wish came true in the form of Michelle's Place.

As I continued to listen to Michelle’s story, I realized that volunteering at Michelle’s Place was going to make an impact on me, much more than I was going to make an impact on it.

Volunteering at Michelle’s Place is no longer something that I think that I want to do. Volunteering at Michelle’s Place is something that I need to do. Listening to Michelle’s story, I felt very blessed and lucky to be alive. I am so very thankful that I am able to hear about stories like Michelle’s. I am here on earth for a reason and I know that one of those reasons is not to be a slactivist.

So, I encourage you, make your mark, do what you have to do, but don’t practice slactivism. Life is too short.

Catherine Emmerling (pictured left) is currently working on masters of science in school counseling. In her spare time, she is searching for a job and trying not to practice slactivism anymore. Casa DeFrias thanks Catherine for her heartfelt post—and for volunteering!


Kara DeFrias said…
Awesome post, Catherine! So happy to have you share your story here, in the hopes it will inspire others to do the same. :)
Unknown said…
Thank you so much Kara for sharing your experiences and impacting all of us. :)
Suzette said…
Ugh! I am one of those who copied and pasted that FB message. I'm also one of those who found something (can't even mention the stupid thing) under my arm pit, and went to four different doctors to get a concrete diagnosis: they don't know what it is, but let's watch it -- and I have for the last year.

Thanks for your story Catherine. wish you well!
Gingerbreadmama said…
"So, I encourage you, make your mark, do what you have to do, but don’t practice slactivism. Life is too short."

Love this!
Kara DeFrias said…
@Suzette - No worries. :) And I wish you well on your journey!

@GBM - Catherine hit the nail on the head, for sure!

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