Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wesley Regenbogen And Cobras MC

By Penny Shuftan

Recently, Wesley Regenbogen became a five year member of the Cobras MC, the motorcycle club on Second Life that he joined five years ago.  I asked him how he found out about Cobras MC.  "Well, I was contacting a real life organization called 'Be The Match' at that time and I was looking to see if someone already did a fundraiser for that organization here in Second Life." said Wesley, "I ended up talking to MIghtbe Shelter here in Second Life and she invited me over to see the Cobras MC here in Second Life.  She showed me around and we talked a bit about what I wanted to do here in Second Life as a fundraiser and how I wanted to do it.  She told me that they did do a fundrasier here in Second Life for Be The Match here in SL.  But after a while, she told me that the organization didn't want to do anything anymore in Second Life  So, I kept on searching on the web and for the other real life organizations."

According to Wesley, there are a few steps to joining the Cobras MC.  The first step would be that the new person would become a "hangaround" which means that you join the rides for a while, and get to know the Cobras MC members a bit more.

The second step is that after "hanging around" with the Cobras MC, you are asked if you wanted to become a prospect.  If you accept, then your prospect period begins. Depending on how well you do it can take up to about a month or something like that.

The third step is that after your prospect period, they will vote for you at Church (weekly meeting at the Cobras MC).  If you get enough votes.  you are "patched in," which means you become a full member and get a vest for your avatar.  

After becoming a full member, every ride you do counts to reach rides patch.  You will get them on your vest when you reach them.  Also you reach "year patches," so every year you are a member, you will get a new year patch on your vest.  Wesley had reached his five years patch recently, and also got his "1K" rides patch, that is 1000 rides.

I was wondering if Wesley is planning on staying with Cobras MC for a long time.  "Yes, of course," he answered, "I will stay a Cobras MC member for as long as possible.  That is my plan."

My next question is if Cobras MC has any fundraisers.  "No." Wesley told me, "But they sometimes participate in fundraisers and do rides and stuff for them.  after a few years I finally found an organization called EURORDIS that helps people with rare diseases and I hoped that they wanted to support me on this in Second Life, fundraising, I mean, but sadly that didn't turn out that well.  But I'm in contact with an organization called " Rare Diseases International" and I will have a video call with them in August. We will see how that goes."

I was just wondering if Cobras MC has any events planned, and Wesley answered that he doesn't know yet. But he's going to first try to convince a new organization to join him in Second Life and try to build something up in terms of fundraising for them here in Second Life.  He wants to have a real life organization backing him up on fundraising here in Second Life, like the Relay for Life does here in Second Life.  

As for plans, Wesley doesn't know what Cobras MC's plans are.  As for himself, "I guess keeping on riding on the tracks on Second Life," he told me with a grin.

That was it for the interview as I thanked Wesley for the interview.  This had been a fantastic interview.  There's always something to learn when it comes to Second Life, that's for sure.

Penny Shuftan

Monday, May 23, 2022

Looking Back: Shellie Sands and Grey Lupindo

By Bixyl Shuftan

When Second Life Newspaper closed down in early June 2010, four writers would go on to found and write for it's successor, the Second Life Newser: Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shellie Sands, and myself, Bixyl Shuftan. Gemma and I have continued writing to this day. Sadly, Shellie and Grey have stopped writing. So who were they and what did they write about?

Shellie Sands joined up with the Second Life Newspaper sometime in 2009. Besides her articles, she also did poetry inspired by what she saw in this virtual world. In 2010 came a new subject: Ozimal bunnies, which she loved and would write about. She would also write about musicians and art. She would later get some Amaratto horses and write about those as well, one picture which Hamlet Au would cartoon in January 2010 following the results of the lawsuit between the two breedable pets makers.

Shellie would take a couple breaks in 2011, but came back, her last article in August and last poem in September. She would attend at least one more meeting, but sadly the Newser's poet would send no more.

Grey Lupindo was different from other reporters at the Second Life Newspaper in that I first met her before she joined. I ran into her at the Second Life Sixth Birthday grounds sometime in June 2009. When I mentioned I was covering the event for the paper, she told me she had yet to hear about any newsletter covering Second Life and had a few questions. A few months later, I would see her at the office getting a job interview by Dana, hired, and given an office. Like me, Grey was quickly distinguishable from the others with her furry appearance: the starter furry avatar with the stiff tail replaced by a flexible one, which she called her foxette.

Grey would write the first of the Newser's articles after it's introduction, and would go on to report about a variety of subjects. She would write about the Fantasy Faire. She would interview fellow reporter Grease Coakes about his just published book. She would write about the Meeroos, the fashionable breedable pet of 2011. But what I most remember her for are her articles about various locations across the virtual world. She would also write about her home community of Syzygy. One community event she reported took place outside their estate when several of the folk went down the mainland highways in tanks.

Grey would take a break in 2014 in order to deal with matters in real life. She would return in April 2016 when things on her side of the computer became less hectic. She would do a few more articles, such as an interview with SLB Cake builder Mikati Slade. But then the articles would stop. It would seem real life had taken over once more.

Over time, the Newser has had a number of reporters. A few sent in one or two articles after they were officially in, then having to leave. Others would write for years. But twelve years later, I still remember fondly these two whom helped found Second Life's best newsletter.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Memorial for Teal Freenote

By Bixyl Shuftan

On April 9, it was announced that Teal Freenote had passed away. On Sunday April 24 at 11 AM, a memorial service was held for her at Remembrance Park in Raglan. A large number of people attended, at times about eighty in the sim, "This is the first time in 18 years I have seen 76 tinies sit still for longer than 15 minutes." Most were local tinies, but there were some human and furry avatars.

Zayn Till would give a speech that would be shown on Youtube, "Teal has been such an integral part of Raglan Shire since the begining. After the first Medieval Fest, we had our first Winter Fest, which was held in the entirety of the sillycube. And she was there. And she was helpful, and she was helping, and she was having a grand time like everyone seemed to be having a great time. And many pictures were taken. And I mean, it was magic, it really was magic. Wolfy is the real life husband of Teal. Theirs is a love story. They met in Second Life years ago. They finally decided to meet up in real life. And then they decided to marry. It's truly a touching, heartwarming, amazing story, a real love story, which is rare.

"Teal ran the Art Walk for five years. It was fabulous. She was so excited to do it. It was so nice to know. Just like karma does now. To know that someone really really cared and wanted to make it the best possible, and connected with the others, because there's other art groups in Second Life, and she had connected with all these other artists that weren't , it wasn't just Ragna Shire. The first year it was because that's all I knew. You know, I'm in my box. But Teal went outside the box and contacted all these groups that were art groups all over Second LIfe, and all these other artists. And all of a sudden ...

"Wolfe, my heart goes out to you. And there's no words, you know. I mean, the reality of everything, there's no words. But, you know I value what you've offered to our community, what you've offered as a friend. I was estatic that the two of you had a chance to meet and interact and then meet in real life and realize that love was real and then marry. And I know the loss is huge. I've talked about loss and the vacuum it creates. But as I understand it, you know she passed, and you were in the same room holding her hand ... you can't ask for anything else at the end.

"This is what's important, but they're not what's important. What's important is our actions and how they affect others, and how we impact others, and how others remember us. Because ultimately, we are all a story. And all we can do is tell each other the stories of the folks that have passed on, and remember them. And as long as you can do that, the vacuum aside, they're still always going to be with you. And you can cry, and you can be sad, but you could also remember why they made you laugh. Or that time they did something that made you smile. Or that time they did something that meant so much to you that you weren't aware that they were doing it. Teal was one of those people. And she would do things for others without people knowing until she would present them with that thing that she did. And we're grateful to have people like that.

"You know, Wolf told me that towards the end, I think she had made peace with everything and when I talked to her, she was already dying. And I know she was scared when I talked to her. But at the same time, she just sounded so at peace. And she knew it was happening, and she was just preparing. And you know, Wolf told me before this, that he feels that right now that she is at peace with everything, and ... it breaks my heart.

"I was floored when I heard that all of you congregated in the sillycube. I mean, you can see it. You know, for weeks, and rezzed all the stuff, and talked about her, and because everyone's mourning, everyone wants to comfort each other, and that's another aspect of this particular community being so unique and important. And again, Teal is such a big part of it. There's not really much I an say. I think I've said everything that I've wanted to say. But I mean Raglan Shire has been fifteen years of a community by and for so many that has given so much joy. Teal was such a big part of that. We're going to more than just commemorate her with a little talk. We're going to breathe something out as we want to so because as long as Raglan Shire is around, she's one of those foundations. So before I continue, let me just queue up something that Clover Hear and the Fantasy Faire folks ..."

(voice change) "On April 9 of this year, the Fairelands, the tinies of Raglan Shire, the wider community of Second Life, and indeed the world said goodbye to a dear friend, a sweet little white tiger who touched countless lives. Teal Freenote was everything a Fairelander is supposed to be: generous and kind, funny and courageous. She faced the Unweaver, she faced cancer with all the heart that is embodied in the form she chose as her virtual self. The following message is from the Raglan Shire community, a group of souls without whom the Fairelands would be a sadder, darker place. They write, 'We are heartbroken at the passing of our beloved Teal Freenote, and send all our love to Wolfie Hartnell, her husband, who held her hand throughout her jounrey. Teal fought hard, and we honor her and celebrate her. From all of us, we miss you, and we love you Teal. And we are here for you Wolfie.' And it's signed by the tinies of Raglan Shire.

"2022 marks the 14th age of the Faire. And if there is one lesson we can glean from all those years, it's simply the reminder of how fortunate we are to have this time and space to connect with one another. A wise soul with vision once asked 'What is grief, if not love persevering?' That enduring love is as bright as any star, bright as any sun. teal Freenote, and all those to whom we've said goodbye, are legends, now and forever, teaching us to reach for goodness sake. Now, and forever, loved by the sun."

(Click here if the video does not play)

While Zahn talked, there were some in the crowd who made some wisecracks, "If I ever go, can you guys put a can of Spam on a pedestal oik Morton's over there? People who know would know." "Too bad this ain't the Time or place.....But with all the T.A.G.s here it would of been a good time to give them their annual flea bath." And there were some funny gestures: *** Fish Hats! Fish Hats!  Rolypoly Fish Hats!  Eat them up. Nahm!***

But there was also some talk of Teal, "The ironic thing is she was very shy and here we all are watching her." "I haz prolly seen Teal art.  But it's like my SL inventory--- have no idea where it's filed away." "Teal was always pleasant. i never saw tiger side of her. she never clawed my face off, not even when i'd peed on my artwalk hedge near my store." "Teal never took time for granted," Teal's partner Wolfie (Wolf Hartnell) spoke. "Miss Teal entrusted me with artwalk," Karma Da Squabbit (karmagirl Avro) told, "I try to make it great because of her."

"She's still here supporting me in my heart," Wolfie would say of Teal, "I was there, I held her hand all the way." "Thta's precious, Wolfie," someone commented. "And you are still holding hands Wolfie," spoke another. Wolfie would say, "Zayn, my friend, without you creating Raglan, Teal and I wouldn't have met, so thank you! ... She was scared but ready, she just needed me to be there, and I was." Someone would respond, "I'm so glad your love from the start has been documented so well, Wolfie." Wolfie managed a smile, "I always knew I would have to share Teal." Someone else commented, "She will never be truly gone. Teal will live in our hearts forever." "Pretty much always crying these days," Wolfie would say, "but smiling too." "Those are good tears." "Crying is good, Wolfie." Wolfie would add, "Teal and I never took any of our time for granted - I worked out that we spent 30,000 hours actively together, online and in RL, and we never took any for granted. We felt rich, blessed and grateful. Live and love entirely!"

Someone would comment, "We relay for Teal too this year." Oldesoul Eldemar, whom was there as a tiny, would comment, "Yeesh - we take up more than a region in Fantasy Faire." Clover Denzo would say, "She will be also on the Love wall at Fantasy Faire." "I know loss from here.  And you've all helped amazing." "(I'm) not crying but feeling her spirit happy she's free from her illness  and strong in all of us." "She definitely left her pawprint." "Is good to get to know other tinies / dinkies / wees.  Make new friends.  Cos above all else, we're a friendly batch." "Yeah, makes me sad that one day, none of us will be here. The thought of losing all my TIny friends scares me." "So go out of our way to make new tiny friends." "I made some new friends here today!" "I got 3 friend requests just today." "More than 80 of us here." "And these people, from around the globe."

Songbird Sorbet would say, "Teal was Raglan's Music Director.  Teal helped me discover my talent and led me to my first concert in Raglan Shire.  She was there among many of you." Another would say, "It means a lot to those whom congregate to share happy memories!"

At the end of Zayn's speech, there were gestures and Riverdances. Wolfe was also invited to say something. Someone commented, "I can sum up what zayn said: Teal Freenote was lovely and creative tiny. she was helpful around here a long time, including artwalk. Her love story with Wolfie was epic. She will be missed.  That the TLDR or more like too long to log in cause SL version." Zayn would remind everyone, "(The) Artwalk is coming, this year we're going to be dedicating it to Teal. If you have any Teal specific art thats rare or similar, be sure and let Karma know so that she can plan where to place it." Wolfie would say, "Thank you all so much for being here." "Bawling, so hard to type. so good to see you and others who havent been on in so long."

People then started to leave, "... a gentle hug for Wolfie. Teal will be remembered." "Teal we will never forget you or this day of your memorial." "Great to see so many fiends here.  Teal was loved by so many." "Teal, you were so loved little friend ..."

And so, Raglan bade farewell to one of it's own, one whose name was also known outside the Shire.

On a final note, just as I was finishing this article, RacerX Gullwing posted this video of Teal and Wolfe's wedding celebration. So this article ends with a showing of happier times in Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Interview With Scratch Musikatt

By Penny Shuftan

I finally got together with Scratch Musikatt, an amazing DJ on Second Life.  My first question was about how long Scratch had been DJ-ing. He answered, "DJing is the reason I got into SL in the first place. So, I've been doing it since 2004."

I asked him if he would say that he is a successful DJ.  "I suppose I could be considered successful," replied Scratch. "I mean, I've never been a superstar, but I did have a bit of a following for a while."And, I AM still doing it."

I was curious to know what kind of music Scratch usually plays at his events.  He giggled, "Hehehe, that's where things get interesting... I earned the nickname 'The Original Chaos DJ' a long time ago because I don't really pay much attention to Musical Genres. I'm known for playing anything, anytime, anywhere."

Muertos had been Scratch's lovely hostess for over a decade now.  They met when Scratch played for DJ Rory's Blue Parrot Beach Club and they have been best friends ever since.

My next question would be if Scratch is planning on playing for a long time. "I'll keep playing for as long as there are people to enjoy my shows," replied Scratch,  "I got into DJing in Second Life because I loved DJing in real life. Entertaining is one of my favorite things to do."

Scratch plays at the Happy Vixen Beach Club on Friday nights at 20:00 and at the Furry Fashion Lounge on alternate Saturdays at 20:00.  He also plays for a furry convention, and host a Karaoke event on the second night of the con, and is the DJ for the Deaddog party at the end of the con.

Scratch's goals for 2022 is to have a good time, entertain as many people as he can, and he wants to start DJing in VR Chat.

Scratch is an outstanding DJ with a bright future.  He sure plays good music, and keeps people entertained at the party.  As far as I can see, Scratch is really one of the best DJs ever.

Penny Shuftan

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Memorial Service for JasElm Mertel

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday March 18, the Safe Waters Foundation mermaid community hosted a memorial service for JasElm Mertel. JasElm was a roleplayer whom at one point took part in the Inslico sci-fi RP area, as well as Bloodlines. And she had friends in the Jinx roleplay group. She was also a content creator whom had a marketplace page ("Everything Else"), which had many additions for Linden Homes, and stated in her profile she liked creating logos, illustrations, and more.

The event took place under the waters of Union Passage. "Welcome everyone!!" Greeted Chickaboo (JustaChicky Goldshark), one of the Safe Waters' leaders, "So nice to see you all here to Celebrate JasElm Mertels Life!" She pointed out some pictures of JasElm, "Today we celebrate JasElm's Life! I was going to wear black then in remembering her I chose to be colorful , like her spirit." She noticed several avatars that were clearly from the land, "Welcome Centuars. I know she will be glad to see you here as you all were so much a part of her life.

"Seems like just yesterday when we rekindled our friendship. Kindred spirits I think.We shared much of our RL's together. So let us remember who she was/is. Kind, sweet, helpful, funny. creative, Promoted Fantasy Faire & all events to help with the American Cancer Society. Passionate at everything she did. Being a pilot, she sure loved flying people around and meeting new ones. She tried to teach me ....I crashed into Blake sea everytime!! Laughing alot.

"Each of us, Mer, seafolk, Centuars and so many more have had a special journey with Jas. While reading our chats I realized she was so much more than just a friend. She enjoyed Life to the fullest. In everything she did. She wasnt afraid to try anything here!! and she did try everything as you may know.

Chickaboo paused momentarily, "I am trying not to get choked up here..... Jas was a sparkle. a twinkle, a firecracker, always up for a good laugh, a hug.  Jas helped at SWF for many years and just last year she volunteered again, this time to be our photographer. She also wasnt afraid to tell you exactly how she felt! Read her Profile ( and you will get a taste of it.

"Let me share a quote from Jas: 'When you are about to turn your heart into a stone, remember, you do not walk alone.'

"'I was born in the year of the Dog and am a Gemini on the cusp of Taurus, so I am both creative and stubborn. Sometimes bull headed, and sometimes wishy washy. But always a good (SESS-moo-nah): Friend of Mer and faithful to the end...Jas.'  I think that really describes her!

"She was a friend, a sister..a commrade, and so she Lived a full Life. Let us not be sad today, but Celebrate what she was to each of us! She also said, 'Dal', I Dal (DOLL): Want to thank you for living with me on the same planet. You are not alone in this world. And that is about the most generous gift she  gave us all. Always caring for others and willing to be there for you when you needed a shoulder to cry on." "Wonderful sentiment," someone from the audience commented.

Chickaboo went on, "The music you heard coming in was one of her favorite bands , Heilung , she so wanted to see them at the Castlefest one day in the Nederlands. Grace sent me this:

"'I so regret that I can't be with you today (RL demands).

"I'm not a terribly close (SESS-moo-nah): Friend of Mer  of JasElm's but she was a bright light of joy, hope and community spirit. She helped out so many times and was supportive during some of my toughest times.

"She was working on becoming a photographer (**and I put some of her photos of Safe Water Foundation's home sim into the slide show **if you get it working). Thank you for coming to add some joy today in Second Life.'

Chickaboo looked to the audience, "Now if anyone else would like to share please come on up, or type from your seat, share a memory." Kumi Kiyori spoke up, "When our friend Pearl was so very ill she spent so much time suggesting and explaining the many herbs that she took for herself, and where she sourced them. All this while she too was so very ill with this awful disease. Both were strong women and I miss them both."

Adrian Blackstorm (elusiasilverweb) spoke, "When I first started the journey to being a merfolk Jas was there giving suggestions landmarks and he ear. Every time I came with a little more progress, she was there to always help. She embodied the saying 'Mers helpsing Mers become mers.' She always was the light that shined there for everyone and loved seeing our community grow."

Julala Demina would say, "I never once heard JasElm complain. She came to us and she had fun. I will miss her, truly, as I do all those who have left us over the years.  I think I remember last seeing her over the festive period, I remember helping her fit her latest outfit for her centaur.  She always looked her best and joined in with positivity and energy.  She never gave up either, always looking forward.  May your journey be a wonderful adventure JasElm.  Wherever you go now, may it be full of the fantasy and joy that you brought to us all."

Fɪɴᴀ 小霜 (Sapphira Franizzi)  spoke, "So this is going to be really just a few words...

"I don't know Jas well. I know her as an active member of the mer community, but that's about it. Nevertheless, I was still shocked to hear that she had passed on and that a memorial was to be held at SWF in her honor.

"It was a stark reminder to me that those nearest and dearest to us might suddenly, one day, not be there anymore.

"Today, may we not only celebrate her memory, but also remember to hug our loved ones tightly and show them love and appreciation them every day!"

Humormii Resident offered, "I also didn't know JasElm well but her energy was as big as her taur. She was HUGE! She would dash into our wiggles with so much life and joy that she made it. One wouldn't know she was sick if she hadn't told you. That is how I will remember her. Full of life. Full of fight. Full of happiness. She is missed."

Zzri Avian (Zri Portal) would add, "I would just like to also add, that she was a fan of the Grid Drives that the 'Drivers of SL' group would organize; she would participate actively in the 'Drivers of SL' group chat too. Her enthusiasm will be missed."

After a moment, Chickaboo continued, "Jas did so many things! You are all so sweet! Lovely words everyone, wish I'd of thought of those words to describe her. She will be missed. and loved by us all. You know shes watching over us.

"If that's the last share......" Chickaboo waited a little before saying, "A moment of silence for Jas." They waited another moment before the mer spoke again, "Thank you all for sharing - now lets increase the happiness just now.  Let's dance, chat and have a little fun - in honor of JasElm Mertel! I am glad she touched so many lives. I have the Mer dance ball up above me. I hope you all will dance with us. Vlad will you get the music going?" "Wonderful memorial Chicky," someone responded. "Yes thank you so much Chickaboo," spoke another.

Chickaboo would say of the tunes, "Music was picked by Grace as a dedication to her Nulma (NOOL-mah): Love of this music." As the dance started, the DJ, Vladamer (Kristoph Darkheart), commented, "I think I met Jas once when she tried to teach Chicky to fly. (chuckle) That didnt go well, Chicky always crashed (laughter)." Chickaboo just laughted. Another commented, "Stck to sea. Can still capsize though." Still another would say, "I never met her, but she was in a thousand groups: divers SL, passengers, sailors, aviators, etc. And she was very talkative too at times." "Talkative is a good thing," a third commented, "It's how friends are made." Vladamer would add, "She was in SWF group chat one day saying she beat cancer and her test showed good. It was too sudden. She beat one thing and another came in to play. So sad."

Chickaboo would add, "Jas drove a 1972 VW Beetle too: purple. I thought it suited her." Another told her, "Chicka, Jas was one of the reason i am a siren, her love of music." Awwwww, that's great Adrian. She helped so many. She helped me adjust to the 5-joint tails." "She did. If she could see how much more we have grown, she would be proud."

Eventually, people started to head ouot, "I'm going to leave before I turn into a sobbing mess." "I must go. It was a beautiful service, Chicky." "All of us coming together," Chickaboo would comment, "I am sure she is watching us!"

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, March 25, 2022

Followup Interview With DJ Snowy

By Penny Shuftan

I met up with Snowy AngelBun Lefavre (skylark.lefavre) for the follow-up interview of another a few months ago.  My first question would be if she thinks that she's a successful DJ.  "Well Penny I still don't understand how or why I've been successful. I don't know why people think I am successful. Music is the only world I know and I just like to share my world with others. I guess the way I share it people like. I'm not even sure what it is I am doing right!" said Snowy.

My next question for Snowy is what her goals for this year as the DJ would be.  "Try other music genres make more awesome playlists learn to do more than I never done  before DJing," replied Snowy. "With Djing there is so much that can be done. ALways room for improvement. In the end like to get my own DJ mixing decks and a program called Tracktor and try to take DJing into real-life."

For now, Snowy DJs at White Saber Club, Happy Vixen, LiveWire, Club Zero G, Club Cutlass, and Bouncing Bunny Beach Club.

I was just wondering what Snowy's favorite part about being a DJ would be.  "Making people happy and see them enjoying something I do," answered Snowy.

When I asked Snowy if she's going to continue DJing for a long time, she replied, "I am going to try and DJ as long as I possibly can. I like to keep going till I leave this world."

Snowy had been Djing for several years.  "I have and my desire to keep learning to improve and get better never ends," she told me, "I like to try and top my best event as much as I can. I DJ with migraines, after an open back surgery, while being very sick. This is a passion that is stronger than anything else. This is my calling and what I want to do with my life both Real Life and Second Life. I don't do it for any reason except the joy it brings me and others. Five years I learned to do the impossible but there is so much more potential still waiting."

I asked Snowy if I could add to the article about how Snowy had been helping a lot of people out. "But of course,"  replied Snowy, "having conditions of my own and knowing the hardships that follow them I help others whose lives uses them for kickboxing. I do more than DJ! (smile) I love helping those that have a bad day, year, or life or just don't get a fair shake from others."

The interview ended then, but I just ended the interview knowing that Snowy is a good DJ, and a good person at heart.  I recommend anyone to stop by one of the clubs that Snowy is DJing at to give her music a try.  Her music rocks.

Editor's note: Due to real life, Penny will be taking what she hopes will be a short break from writing articles. In case it isn't, she wanted to interview DJ Snowy one more time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Reader Submitted: My Cancer Journey ( Still Outgoing )

By Alysabelle Resident.

'CANCER' that dreaded word! We feel for them, those who have been afflicted with Cancer and those who are survivors, caregivers or in remission. I was diagnosed with Small Cell Carcinoma Lung Cancer Stage 3 in late 2020. Ironically I didn't feel any symptoms except, I had pulled a muscle in the chest area. Numerous test later, x-rays, blood work, ct-scan, finally a biopsy . Results: I was told I have the ugly 6 letter word 'Cancer'. Realisticaly, you don't think this will happen to you, but it did to me. I had appointments to see both the Chemo Oncologist and the Radiation Oncologist. As I sat there waiting clinging to hope, because ultimately that's all I had, it also felt like an eternity waiting for them .

Finally they both came in, I look at them there was introductions and they pointed towards picture of themselves, I thought and shrugged we are reduced to looking at pictures of doctors, specialist and nurses because of the mask wearing due to the pandemic. I nodded. I was anxious for them to tell me my prognosis. I said, 'What are my chances?' My Chemo Oncologist said 30 percent.' Now I wasn't just shocked about cancer, I was devastated. My life as I knew it changed from that moment on. I was barely able to continue any conversation, and all I could think of was 'I'm going to die.' This was it, a death sentence hanging over my head and nothing and no one can do anything about it. After all 30 percent was a horrible outcome. I disliked him of course at that moment, that was my emotional feelings inside. I started crying so much so and I look at him upset that he just dashed any hope I was clinging to.

He talked about treatments. 'Treatments,' I thought, 'why bother?' And he walked off to get papers for me to sign. I thought how do I leave here without falling apart, even before I even get to the exit? I couldn't even fathom walking at that point. I was sitting there rooted to my chair 'shocked' He came back and explain to me that some people, even thought not a large percentage, can live 5 to 10 yrs, and he even had a patient that still living, and its been over 10 years since his treatments. It may or may not happen to you. So he talked about a plan with both Chemo and Radiation treatments. It was to start in two weeks. It will be aggressive, three chemotherapies, one from the start, one in the middle somewhere, and one in the end of the six weeks period. And radiation everyday except weekends.They talked about the side effects and the medications I would have to take prior and during and after the treatments and watch for any sign of a fever. I was told ' stay positive.'  I thought, "are they are out of their minds, 'positive'? What is positive about cancer?" I later learned for me it was focus, not positivity, during treatments. They both told me that they will be there every step of the way, they gave me several leaflets with information and a phone number for the Cancer Center whenever I needed, which I did. And I was told 'get your affairs in order just in case.' I now had a Cancer Team.

While I was sitting there I look at both of them and realized that I don't want them to know me with a mask, my name with a mask, no thanks. They couldn't see my true expression and I couldn't see theirs, who could? So I stood up and I said, 'Look at my face.' I removed my mask and I said 'this is me,' and quickly put my mask back on. And surprisingly they stood up and removed their masks and their face guards and said 'this is us.' That small gesture meant a lot to me. Soon after, I got a call to come in to get a scan done and the technician placed four tattoos. They really are called markers for radiation. I cried. It hit me the realization that soon the treatments were about to start.

 For my family and friends in real life, that was difficult of course. They were stunned, but their support and and love and prayers meant a lot to me. I also picked one person to give my updates to everyone else. I knew I wouldn't have the energy to speak to each one individually, or so I thought. And I was correct. There came a time where I actually just texted the person because one of the side effect of the radiation would be difficult speaking because of the location of the treatment.

For online friends, I did the same, picked one person who meant the world to me, my partner, to tell a few selected friends. I also couldn't tell everyone on my list. It was way too much. And even still today, some don't know what I have been through. Then came the morning of my first chemo and a few hours later my first radiation. I can't speak for every one going through treatment. For me it was 'rough.' My second treatment of chemo was worse, 'Hell,' and I felt like death was on my doorstep. I understood then and there, quite clearly why some people going through treatment would want to stop completely. I even thought to myself after several weeks I wont go through the last chemo treatment that was planned .
But I forged on, and did it after all. Also I found difficulty in standing without help or holding on to some kind of piece of furniture or even a wall. One memory I had, I recalled standing in the kitchen just trying to make myself a sandwich holding on to the counter for support, because surely I was going to fall. I managed to butter a piece of bread. I didn't fall, but that's how weak I was. Radiation was a different process, the more you receive the more you start feeling the symptoms of radiation, the sunburn feeling on my back which I got cream for, the fatigue also associated with chemo and radiation combined, the nausea, the difficulty swallowing. I even had to have an IV drip at times so I can get fluids down. I didn't think water would have been an issue swallowing. I thought if anything food would have been the most difficult, that came later.

At some point I was determined they would both get to know more then just ' I'm a cancer patient.' I finally had my chance. I had an appointment several days later with the Chemo Oncologist. I wanted to feel some kind of human connection with him. I didn't feel any up until that point. So I decided to show him two pieces of poetry I had written. I figured what better way to get to know me but through my poetry. There were two pieces, one was light-hearted, the other one more profound. First poem, he smiled. The second one he understood it quite well and pointed at the poem and started at me speechless. I told him 'I know 'and smiled =. I told him I understood that he faced not death personally, but those who are dying and if not dying then those who like me, are receiving horrible news. That couldn't be easy for him and the distance emotionally is key. He talked about his family, wife and children, briefly. I looked at him far differently then I did before and I knew he looked at me far differently now.

Then came the day of my last treatments. Tired as I was, I was elated. It was over. You're told for many months the treatments will still be working in your system. It was longer for the radiation. Two months after the treatment. I ended up with a fever and had to stay at the hospital overnight and start antibiotics. More times than not, your body can start an infection. But not always do they know where its coming from. Then they started talking about immunotherapy. It would have to start within 14 days after the treatments were over. There are benefits as well risks involved, and side effects. Not everyone is a candidate. I wasn't one of them, after all . My last physical appointment with both Oncologists, after talking a while we all stood up. It was time to go. I thanked them. And as I was going to shake their hands, but instead I was soon engulfed in bear hugs from both of them, Pandemic be damned. After that, communication between all of us was to be done virtually.

After three months, I was going for my very first scan to find out how the treatment worked. I was anxious and stressed out for the findings. I was happy they both told me that they saw a decrease in the size of the cancer. For a while the scans are every three months, and then eventually its every six months, and then yearly, if all goes well. So far I have done all the three month scans and the cancer continues to decrease. I just finished my first six month scan, and again with the same results. I'm fully aware that some people, depending on their treatment and the length of their treatments, how difficult it is. Truly my heart goes out to them and in some ways I am fortunate because my treatments, although aggressive as it was, wasn't as long as some people that have to go through it longer than I. There is always someone worse than you. During the time you're going through treatment, you have your cancer support team, you depend on them where I always depended on myself and been always there for others. But this time it was different, to learn to lean on people. It was so foreign to me. You also don't realize how focused you are through treatment, till you don't have to be anymore. It's a huge relief, but at the same time you say to yourself 'What now?' Emotional therapy is the key before during and afterward treatment. I would recommend it highly .

Will I always be a cancer patient? Yes. Do I still have cancer ? Yes, although I'm in remission . Will cancer ever return full force? It could. Will cancer always be part of me the rest of my life? Yes, if not physically, emotionally. Do I have a scar from the radiation location lung? Yes Did my voice change due to radiation ? Ye . Do I want pity from anyone ? NO! I never wanted that in my life and certainly not now. I was victimized by cancer, but I refuse to be a victim. Did I ever question at times 'Why me about my cancer?' I sure did, but then again....why not me?

Writing about my journey, my cancer, it was difficult at times. But if it helps anyone, then it was all worth it. Although in my real life my family and friends know what I have been through, online there are still friends on my list that aren't aware of what I have been through. Perhaps now they will.

In closing ...

I also like to mention a place in Second Life where I attended a meeting, at the American Cancer Society's Hope Haven Survivors & Caregivers Support Group in Second Life.

The lead person at Hope Haven is Sandie Slate (sandie.loxingly). They try to get together every other Sunday if possible. The meeting starts at 12:30 pm SL time.They have Survivor Moderators as well as Caregiver Moderators. There are others I met briefly, the most amazing courageous people I ever met. I was grateful to them for hearing me out. I was overwhelmed with emotions. It was several months after my treatments and I walked in and felt the immediate feeling of belonging. I'm also grateful that I listened to others and what was happening in their lives and how they were coping. I didn't feel alone.

When you have cancer, I understand people sympathize and give you hugs and so on. But there is nothing like someone else with the feelings associated with cancer. Sometimes you want to talk about it, sometimes you don't, sometimes you just want to listen. It's all okay. We are with friends who have either been there or still there. For news and updates, click on the terminal that is placed at the entrance that says' American Cancer Society ' Survivor and Caregivers Info Net.' It's on the ground. Once you click on it, a notecard will appear. It will explain everything you need to know. There is another one at the side of the building with the names and how to contact the Survivor Moderators and the Lead Person as well as the Caregiver Moderators. Cancer is Cancer no matter who you are and where your from. Everyone is welcome. I read a poster that was on the wall in the other building that made perfect sense to me. “Hope .. is not a wish it's a belief." So true (smile).

Thank you (smile)

Alysabelle Resident