Five Years Gone…

Five Years Gone…


Cancer sucks.  It’s completely impartial, affecting young and old alike, and it doesn’t just impact the person fighting the disease, but those around  who witness the impact upon their loved one.

Unfortunately  I’ve seen first hand what it can do, and it’s often terrifying, and not just for the patient. No matter how much people try to break the fear of cancer, it’s a fear that people find hard to shake. But cancer can be beaten; and it’s my belief that the right medical treatments, some holistic care and a bloody good dose of humour can all play a part in beating the bastard into retreat.

It’s not just the disease that patients have to deal with, but also the regimen of treatments that cancer patients have to endure too.  They are complicated and their side-effects can be legion. People who have experience of this disease, (Sadly who doesn’t these days?), often speak of the  battle that they have to fight not just against the disease itself, but the myriad of treatments that wreak havoc against the body.

Cancer patients are brave. I know some dislike the use of that word, but for me there is no alternative. You HAVE to be brave to deal with cancer. There’s no doubt in my mind that to endure a battle against chronic illness takes a special kind of soul, one determined to fight against the cells daring to multiply and rally against the caustic treatments coursing through the veins.

Readers of this blog will know only too well of my beloved friend Dionne Walker (aka DeeDee Fadoodle in SL) who lost her battle against cancer five years ago.  She did as much as she could to beat the Breast Cancer that had spread into her liver, bones and brain, but in the end the fucking thing won out. (Her blog is still live, you can read it here)

The five years that have passed since she died have flown by, but every single day I’m reminded of her.  Not just by the pictures of her that I have dotted around my home, but by little things that I hear every day that raise smiles as I think of her and how she would react. Whenever I hear music by Faithless for example, she’s there. I have her Black Obsidian crystal ball, and each time I pass it she’s there; even a scent or a scene in a film or a written passage on a page can trigger a memory.

You know, for a long time I was cross that she’d gone, and also that she’s never come back and said “Hi”.  I know that sounds very strange, but I always thought if anyone was going to come back and pay me a visit it would be Dee.  (Knowing her, she’d probably jump up in front of me whilst I was taking a dump. Five years of enduring toilet visits anticipating a visit from beyond the grave fair messes with your bowels let me tell you!)

Grief is a strange thing. After the initial shock and raw pain there does come a sort of resolution, of acceptance that someone has gone and they aren’t going to come back. But what I am trying to say is that I have realised that they never, ever go away. We are the ones left behind, the receptacles if you will, of loving memories and thoughts and daydreams  in which our loved ones can (for want of a better phrase) live again. And believe me, in my dreams and imagination she has many, many times.

And she will continue to forever more, until I pop my clogs and wander over to the other side and seek her out and kick her ass for being gone, and then collapse in a fit of giggles because I’m back with my buddy.

Five years is a long time that she’s been physically gone, but in my mind she never, ever left.

I love you Dionne xxx

Pink Dee

I interviewed Dee back in the day for some thoughts on Second Life and using it as a way for managing and dealing with illness. Here are her answers from back then, exactly how she e-mailed them to me. You’ll note she used to call me ‘O’toole’ ; even though we were friends in real life she always used to address my emails in this way once we’d both got into SL. 


These be my answers.. my poor old brain struggled a bit, so I hope they’re ok!

How do you usually spend your time in SL?
Spending money on clothes, hair, and accessories!  It’s a great distraction!
When I’ve spent money, I’ll put on my new glad-rags, go to a bar (or more recently, ice skating!), with my SL buddies, and shake my thang!
And while I haven’t been well enough to go out to a real life bar, with my real life friends, I’ve at least been able to go to an SL bar with them!

How has SL helped you deal with your cancer in RL?
There are cancer support groups in SL, which I’ve only been to a couple of times.  The one I’ve been to does seem like an good place to chat about what’s happening, and it can be good to share how I feel about cancer and the ways it affects me, with others who’re going through similar things.
Real life support groups aren’t really my ‘thing’, and I find it easier to talk about cancer-related issues in an ‘online setting’.
But really, the main way SL has helped me, is by providing a distraction from real life.  It’s good to escape into SL, and away from RL for a while.
I recently had surgery to remove a secondary brain tumour (I was initally diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2005.  And later with liver, bone, and now brain metastasies), and haven’t been able to do much in RL, while I’ve been recovering from the op.  So SL’s been good at keeping me occupied, while I haven’t been able to do much else.

How supportive have you found SL residents when you have told them about your RL diagnosis?
I don’t tend to tell people (it’s not really the kind of thing you announce, when you walk up to someone!), but a brief summary of my RL diagnosis is in my profile.  There have been a few people send me really kind, supportive messages.

What is the most precious item in your inventory?
Ooh, I love my MAC laptop.  But I also have a Shamanic drum, which actually drums.. I really like that too.

What’s the worst thing about SL?
For me, personally, crashes and bugs, which seem to be getting worse and worse.  It’s driving me insane, lately.

What’s your funniest SL sex story?
I don’t really have one!  I’ve never got into the whole SL sex thing.  Although it did make me chuckle when I ended up in ‘Sherwood Forest’, and stumbled across a **** a duck pose!

How do you think SL can best serve it’s users who have RL medical issues?
I feel that support groups in SL have great potential to be a valuable resource and support to people with a variety of RL medical issues.
They enable people from all over the world to come together and discuss their illness, treatments, exchange information, and raise awareness.
RL support groups, whilst they can be invaluable for support, can be somewhat limited to a much smaller group of people, with not such a wide scope of experience.
I feel that both RL and SL groups can play an important part in the lives of people with many illness’.

What’s the one thing that you would change about SL if you could?
Less bugs and less crashes.. especially when I’m trying to buy new goodies, or get to a party!

Dee Day

Dee Day

If you know me in world, or if you’re a regular reader of Kittywitchin, then you’ll know my life changed forever a year ago today. That’s when my beloved best friend, Dionne, died after battling Breast Cancer that had spread to her brain, liver and bones. It was, and remains an all too human tragedy, because so many people out there are touched or affected by cancer in its myriad of forms every single day. I’d be lying if I said it’s been an easy year since. It’s not, it’s been a difficult time for all concerned, and her family’s loss is as palpable now as the day it happened. But for me, I can’t explain it properly in words.

From a selfish point of view I miss our kinship.  When you find a true and loyal friend they’re irreplaceable, and I have missed her so badly; I can’t pick up the phone and tell her things I know she’d love to hear and I think of stuff constantly that I want to share with her and she’s not physically here to do that with. Simple things such as just chatting or even giving her a hug, I haven’t been able to do any of that for a year? It’s often said but you never realise the value of the little things until they are beyond your reach.

When you lose someone you love you of course pick yourself up and carry on, and time does heal. But it is never the same without that person, nor will it ever be again. In case you hadn’t noticed, in world it’s been ‘Relay For Life‘, which raises funds for Cancer charities. It’s wonderful to think that even in a virtual world real life is given so much validity, and the fund-raising still continues in earnest.  Dee did her own bit for charity too, and even though she was neverin remission from her cancer, when she was feeling strong enough she threw herself out of a plane on a sponsored parachute jump to raise funds…I’m not saying you should go to those lengths, but every Linden  really does help, so if you can find it in your hearts to donate, please do so.

As for me, I  plan on spending today in RL in quiet reflection for a dearly loved friend. Tonight I’ll raise a glass in her honour as I stare out into a (hopefully) starlit sky..knowing that there’s a star out there named after her that shall shine for all eternity, just like she will in my heart.  Love you Dee xxx

DeeDee’s memorial

DeeDee’s memorial

Cassandra hosts a memorial park, and walking around it is very humbling. You don’t realise how many people have been loved and lost in Second Life until you wander around and see the tributes that have been placed around. There are a lot of them. As soon as I discovered the place I wanted a memorial to DeeDee to be placed there..somewhere to visit in the virtual I guess. I had planned to visit her grave in RL this weekend, but I’m struggling with that at the mo. I need to go of course, but the fact is I know I’ll crumble, and self-indulgent as it is to write this here, I’m not doing so well. If you’ve been through a loss yourself I’m sure you can brain is full of utterly mad thoughts and ramblings, some of them good,some of them not so. My dreams are a real mess, and yesterday when I was shopping in RL for a split second I thought I saw Dee. Seriously, there was a woman who had her back turned to me and was the same shape and heart just stopped and I felt sick. Jez was with me, he saw her too ( yes she was real) and knew exactly where I was coming from when I said that I had thought it was her. Anyway, back to this lovely memorial that Mike Burleigh created for me and placed at Cassandra. It’s lovely, and Mike runs this place out of the goodness of his heart, as he recognises the need for a park like this in the virtual world. (There are a few more actually, one of my favourites being ‘Tribute Island’ run by the ever lovely Nikk Huett) This is the first time I visited and it’s peaceful and well worth a look. People have left flowers, candles and pictures to their loved ones and although poignant it proves that in the virtual, just like real life, loving rememberance can go on.  If you’d like to visit, click here.
The Crown & Pearl Charity Fundraiser-ONE MILLION LINDEN RAISED!

The Crown & Pearl Charity Fundraiser-ONE MILLION LINDEN RAISED!

Oh. My. God.

How amazing is this news? I just logged in before I go to RL work to get a message off Praddles stating that they’d achieved something amazingly special- they’ve raised L$1000000 for Cancer Research.

What can you say to that? All I can say is this- Thank You.  To everyone involved, who gave their time and effort to the fundraiser. To everyone who has donated their time and their lindens- you are all utter stars and deserve to have undirty bottoms for the rest of your days.

A lot of people have asked me how Deedee is, and truth be told she is a poorly bunny indeed.  It is a sad fact that 1 in 3 of us will be affected by Cancer-did you know that? Cancer is very scary and very unpleasant, but it CAN be treated and fundraising is crucial to finding a cure, or at least better treatments for it.  Chemo is horrible, so is Radiotherapy.  So is having a squillion needles shoved in you.  So is having no veins left for those squillions of needles.  Being sick, itchy, losing your hair and losing your strength are just a fraction of what sufferers have to go through.  It’s not easy watching your best friend struggle through all this, and more besides.  She has gone through so much.  I never imagined that I’d see Deedee in a hospital bed after brain surgery. I never imagined that I’d see her bald (but she has a perfectly shaped head!) 

The same person who had consoled me and helped me through personal heartbreak, the same person who had got frequently drunk with me on girly nights out, the same person who would stay over after said girly nights out and sleep with her head at the bottom of my bed (Never understood why she did that, because all I would do is fart heartily in her direction.  Granted, her toes would be next to my nostrils but they are very nice toes:) I never imagined what she would have to endure. And she has endured so much. 

Anyway, go to Dee’s blog to see it all from her perspective (Click here) but know this, you can make a difference to people’s lives by supporting charities like Cancer Research. No amount is ever too small, and it doesn’t even have to be money. It can be time or a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on..these are all just as valuable.  Not just for the sufferers, but for their family and friends as well.

Once again, to all who supported the fundraising in whatever capacity…thank you:)