Death At 25: Blogging The End Of Life

April 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

Death is part of life either we want it or not, so we might as well become friendly.  One of the good things that have come out of the age of social networking is the sharing of subjects societies have kept to themselves for a very long time.  Thanks to some brave and honest souls we have the opportunity to come close to situations and feelings that in their rawness and devastation will remind us to cherish our lives and love.

Much love to Eva Markvoort who is no longer with us and whose courage has inspired many.

Eva Markvoort started her blog, 65_RedRoses, to document her  struggles with cystic fibrosis.

Eva Markvoort started her blog, 65_RedRoses, to document her struggles with cystic fibrosis.

(CNN) — The former beauty queen stared into the camera, but this was no pageant or performance. She looked frail and thin, and her hair was rumpled. But Eva Markvoort smiled weakly.

“Hello to the world at large,” she said in the video. “To my blog, to my friends, to everyone. I have some news today. It’s kinda tough to hear, but I can say it with a smile.” Propped in a hospital bed, Markvoort sat surrounded by her family. “My life is ending.”

Markvoort had cystic fibrosis, an incurable disease that causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs. For nearly four years, she narrated an unvarnished blog about life with a terminal disease. Even when it appeared unlikely that she would receive a second double lung transplant, the 25-year-old continued to chronicle life on her blog.

The public sharing of one’s last thoughts is a way to acknowledge that the end is near, but it also destigmatizes death for others, said medical experts who work with terminally ill patients.

In the Internet age, many people reflect on their lives through video, personal blogs and larger websites such as CaringBridge.org, where people who have major health events connect and share online.

“What we’re seeing over the last decade, we are gradually moving from a culture that had become during the 20th century, very closed about death,” said Dr. Chris Feudtner, research director of Palliative Care Services at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

A cultural shift has occurred, he said, referring to columnists and Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who discussed their impending deaths with frankness. Pausch’s last lecture, urging students to fearlessly pursue their dreams, went viral on YouTube in 2007, getting more than 11 million views.

Their line of thinking may be, “I’m still alive. I don’t want to be closed. I want connection. I want to be able to share what I’m learning on this journey,” Feudtner said.

Bloggers like Miles Levin, an 18-year-old who had a rare soft-tissue cancer and died in 2007, and Michelle Lynn Mayer, a 39-year-old mother who had scleroderma and died in 2008, shared their thoughts on living and dying, too.

“We all tend to be open via video, blog or Facebook about what we do every day. It’s hardly surprising that openness extends to people’s last days or weeks,” said Dr. David Cassarett, author of the book “Last Acts,” about end-of-life decisions…Continued

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Another Woman Dies In Afghanistan

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

An 18-year old Afghan woman was shot on Tuesday outside her job at an US based development company.  She was killed because she was a woman.  She was killed because she was working.  The Taliban is stepping up its intimidation against women sending bands of thugs to harass women who want jobs, education and their own style of clothing.

Last March 8th, I participated – as one of the organizers – in a night of readings of blogs and essays by Afghan women.  For two hours actresses read on a stage the words of women who struggle to have basic rights and we heard of their pain to be considered replaceable by their own fathers and husbands.

While most of us may feel unable to actively do something about their plight, keeping their words alive make their existence not be forgotten.  No one should have the need to write the poem below.

But Not An Afghan Woman

I would love to be anything in this world
but not a woman
I could be a parrot
I could be a female sheep
I could be a deer or
a sparrow living in a tree
But not an Afghan woman…Continued

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – A gunman lying in wait shot and killed an 18-year-old woman as she left her job at a U.S.-based development company Tuesday, casting a spotlight on a stepped-up campaign of Taliban intimidation against women in this southern city where U.S. troops plan a major operation in the coming weeks.

Although there was no claim of responsibility and police said the motive for the attack was unclear, Taliban militants have been particularly harsh with women who work for foreign organizations or attend school. Bands of thugs are increasingly harassing women who want jobs, education and their own style of clothing, women and aid workers say…Continued

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