By Sylvia L. Ramsey
Not too long after I began working at the college, I started creating a website on bladder cancer. I set up a group on Yahoo for women and bladder cancer. At the time of my bladder cancer diagnosis 16 years ago, the only thing I had for support was a small message board on bladder cancer that was based in Europe. It was better than anything else I found, but it wasn’t what I thought we really needed.
I began writing people that were connected in the field. Women began to find the Yahoo group, and they began asking questions and interacting. This was when I discovered that there were many women just like me: women who had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and had no one to turn to for information or support. I knew that something more needed to be done about getting out information and having a place online for others to go to. I began getting e-mails and telephone calls from women all over the country who were desperate to talk with another female bladder cancer survivor.
It was about this time that a small publisher heard me read some of my poetry and liked it. I was asked to submit some of my work for perusal. The next thing I knew, the publisher wanted to know if I had enough poetry to create a book. I most certainly did, and I began putting my collection of poetry together. Many of the poems had been written and published in literary magazines over the years; others were the poems I had written to cope with various roadblocks that I ran into over the years and the poems I had written as I dealt with bladder cancer. They were special to me, almost as if they were my children. I put them together in sections, according to themes, and I illustrated the book. All of that resulted in my first published book, Pulse Points of a Woman's World.
After my book was published, I got the idea to use the money from the book sales to help bring about more awareness of bladder cancer. I added information, links and some of my writing to the book's website. I began tying in my goal of bladder cancer awareness to the book and talked about it at every chance I got. I used book signings, articles and television interviews to promote bladder cancer awareness. The publisher knew I was giving all my royalties to support the cause, so it graciously turned the publishing rights back over to me. Since that time, the book has sold more than 1,200 copies.
By this time, I had made contacts with people in the medical field who were connected to bladder cancer. A couple of freelance medical writers, Karen and Kathleen, discovered my website and contacted me. They volunteered to help get articles published about bladder cancer and women. Several things happened after they began to help me in my quest.
Check back here to read more from Sylvia. Plus, read more of her story on HealthyWomen.org:
Living With Bladder Cancer
Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?
Lots of Questions and No One to Talk To
Preparing for Surgery and Staying Positive
It's Not Leprosy, It's Cancer
My Bladder Cancer Surgery
Recovering from Surgery and Still Struggling to Find Support
Finding Humor in Trying Times
Adjusting to the New Life After Surgery
Achieving a "New Normal"—and Then a Setback
Recovering, Caregiving and Looking for Work
Learn more about bladder cancer and about Sylvia L. Ramsey, cancer survivor, advocate, author and public speaker, at: www.bladdercancersupport.org, www.authorsden.com/sylvialramsey1 and www.sylvialramsey.com.