I became a student of myself this year. I wrapped up my freshman year of college in the honors program with a 3.7 GPA, and made the Dean’s List both semesters. I’m willing to bet that those feats took at least 2x as much effort as my peers, and, I did so with less gray matter than most. And to think that a year ago teachers suggested to my parents that I take a year off to recover from my surgery. This school year definitely tested my health, but so has every other year, really (rewind to spinal surgery and brain surgery). College has fine tuned my health instincts. I have become more aware of what my body is trying to tell me and am now able to identify the advent of seizures about 80% of the time. I also became more critical about charity efforts, more aware of the timing of my surgery, and more cognizant about how my health impacts academics this year. One of the best parts about this academic year was most definitely getting to meet my neurological twin.
My neurological conditions do not define me, but they help explain me. When I felt overwhelmed with academic frustrations at school this year I would hone in on the needs of the brain tumor community. Then, I would shift my focus back to the classroom once I started to feel the pressure of carrying the brain tumor community on my back. Managing both my academic career and #btsm chats on a weekly basis at the same time is what led to the chats being pushed back to once a month instead of once a week. I thought that I would add a video from Stanford Medicine X called ePatient Leadership: Mentoring Others in this post because the video sheds some light on health advocacy via social media, a huge part of my life, and because speaking at MedX next year is one of my “long-term” goals.
I wanted to high5 Alicia Staley (@stales, co-founder of #bcsm ((breast cancer social media)) chats) when she said “It’s nice to hear that we have the opportunity to learn from each other, and that we have the opportunity to sort of advance the work of our communities by leaning on each other. And we can be in very different communities, very different states if you will, disease states, but that sort of passion around learning and community and educating the people that sort of follow in our shoes seems to be a theme that resonates throughout all of our stories.” After all, #btsm chats and the #btsm community spawned from the #bcsm community.
I joined social media because I wanted to learn more about “the brain tumor experience” prior to my surgery, and I did thanks to Liz. I stayed on social media because I realized that I could share information and help new patients/those who had been abandoned somewhere in the process of finding out their diagnosis and learning to live with their condition(s).