Eight questions from Nancy about my blog

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 12.19.19 PMby Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

I have never had breast cancer, and I don’t write about breast cancer (a recent exception here). But I noticed soon after launching this Heart Sisters blog that a surprising number of women with breast cancer were reading, subscribing and responding to my blog articles on women’s heart disease. One of my favourites in this group was author and breast cancer activist Nancy Stordahl, who blogs about breast cancer over at Nancy’s PointNancy and I have agreed over the years that the traumatic experience of facing a catastrophic diagnosis is shared by many, no matter what that medical condition may be.

So when Nancy invited me to participate in her annual 2020 Summer Blogging Challenge, I was pleased to oblige one of my favourite bloggers by answering the eight questions that she asked about my blog:    .    .  Continue reading “Eight questions from Nancy about my blog”

Does our narrative identity get better with age?

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  

I’m often moved by the stories my readers share with me here. Most of them start with dramatic cardiac crises, with survival, with the sudden shock of learning what it means to become a “patient”, with the skilled cardiologists who saved them or the ones who misdiagnosed them. Others share personal hardships they’ve been enduring long before their first cardiac event ever occurred. At age 10, for example, Marie sat in her bathtub one day and counted 33 bruises on her small body, all caused by vicious beatings with a wire coat hanger at the hands of both her mother and sister.* In a family defined by alcoholism, violence  and drug abuse, her siblings also suffered terribly. Two of her brothers became heroin addicts and died within months of each other.

Yet what truly struck me about Marie is that she tells her story without blame or resentment or self-pity. She points instead to what has helped her avoid her siblings’ fate. What Marie is quietly demonstrating is how she decided to create her own narrative identity.      .       .      Continue reading “Does our narrative identity get better with age?”

“Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” 

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

If you’ve been feeling as stunned as I am by what’s been happening in the U.S. this past week, read this compelling call to action for all physicians and public health experts, originally published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Harvard physicians Drs. Ingrid Katz and Abraar Karan:       .     . 

Continue reading ““Crowds lead to more COVID-19 cases, but so will unabated racism” “

The Christmas truce – 1914

Christmas Truce 1914by Carolyn Thomas        @HeartSisters

As World War I raged on in the trenches of Europe in 1914, Christmas Eve arrived cold and bleak. But German soldiers put up Christmas trees decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Although their enemies, the British soldiers, could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out where they were from. Could this be a trick?

British soldiers were ordered not to fire, but to watch closely. Instead of trickery, however, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing carols and celebrating. Here’s what one young soldier wrote home about this remarkable event:     Continue reading “The Christmas truce – 1914”

While we’re at it – and I am always at it…

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  

I read an article in The Guardian recently. It happened to be about menopause, a stage of life I have already graduated from (thank goodness!)  But it was still interesting to me, as a person who once exhibited world-class projectile sweating during an event at which I was the guest of honour.

But that’s another menopause story entirely.

One particular line of this article leaped out at me. Not about menopause at all, actually, but about women who have opinions.    . Continue reading “While we’re at it – and I am always at it…”

What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

October (also known as Pinktober in corporate brand marketing circles) is the annual holy month of breast cancer awareness-raising, a month of feel-good retail branding opportunities, bathed in a pretty cloud of pinkwashing, a campaign once described by author Barbara Ehrenreich (a breast cancer patient herself) as the cult of pink kitsch”.  You’ve seen these marketing campaign ads:

“For every _______ (insert name of the company’s special pink product, e.g. a pink-labeled can of Campbell’s soup or a pink-handled Smith & Wesson handgun) that you purchase this month, we’ll make a donation to help raise breast cancer awareness!”

As the late Barbara Brenner reminded us: If breast cancer could be cured by shopping, it would be cured by now.” Continue reading “What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing”