December 30th, 2012

Believe it or not, I was a social media dabbler before I started this blog three years ago.

I even live tweeted my mammogram.

Team Pink Ribbon

spa ha

holy shit

The difference? I had about 30 followers at the time. There were no replies, no retweets to my story.

I was tweeting into the void.

Once I started my blog, I took my social media dabbling to a whole other level. I was just a gal with stage 3 cancer, a 10% chance of living 5 years, and nothing much to lose. So I opened a second twitter account under the name “@chemo_babe” to keep my identity hidden.

I got some traction in the twitter world on the eve of my second or third chemo. I was besides myself with anxiety, having suffered terrible side effects from the first dose alone. I found the hashtag #blamecancer, started by Drew Olanoff. Drew was moved by my tweets, started retweeting me, rallying others to support me. It was a phenomenal experience in the midst of a lot of suffering, this sudden embrace by total strangers who showed compassion for my plight.

To be sure, my blog has been a lifeline. Paradoxically, the anonymity I started out with helped it to be so. Hiding behind this persona, I could be as brutally honest as I needed to be. I spoke truths that resonated with others and helped me connect with other patients, caregivers, and doctors. It has been an education that I truly value.

Over time, I found the amazing #bcsm community. With the coaxing of supportive friends, I gradually “came out,” using my first name and eventually my second. I started getting media attention, locally, nationally, and even internationally. Soon everyone who could google  knew that ChemoBabe was Lani Horn, just as anybody reading Marvel Comics knew that Superman was Clark Kent or Spider Man was Peter Parker.

When I finished my last procedure this past May, my old twitter pal Drew sent his congratulations and tweeted, “Are you going to change your twitter handle now?”

Then answer at that time was no. I have built a community through this identity. I have thousands of twitter followers and Facebook fans, tens of thousands of blog hits. Cancer was still a central part of my everyday life, as I battled fatigue and other side effects, working to pick up the pieces of my life.

That was May. Now it’s December, and I woke up last week feeling like the answer to Drew’s question had changed. Yes, I tweet a lot about cancer. But I also connect with knitters, parents, and writers. I livetweet awesome, tragic, and inane cultural events along with my twitter pals. “Chemobabe” seemed too narrow and burdened by the past to be my twitter identity.

So I went back to my old, hardly used twitter account and hijacked that name. I am now @Lanisia, a nickname my uncle still uses for me. It’s a name I made up when I was 3 and I announced to my stepfather that I was actually a lost princess.

“What’s your name, Princess?” he played along

“I am Princess Lanisia,” I said with as much royalty as I could muster.

My old pretend name thus supplants my newer pretend name. Lanisia takes over for ChemoBabe from here on out. All of this superheros, princesses, and make-believe seems fitting for the ephemeral, electronic world of blogs, tweets, and status updates, where bonds are made, experiences shared, and heartfelt truths are told.


This entry was posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2012 at 4:52 pm and is filed under Media, Survivorship. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Transitions”

  1. December 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Lani, I mean Lanisia!

    I love your post. Wonderful.

    I outed myself on my non cancer blog last summer (in the sense that I told the world that I had a cancer history – I did not connect the two blogs or mention my handle of “cancerfree2b” I am not quite ready to do that). But, I definitely felt a huge sense of relief in letting my real world know of my history. There was an outpouring of support and kind words and it made me realize I probably should have done it sooner.

    I have always loved your blog, I was diagnosed about a year before you I think, maybe less. And I remember just thinking at the time, shit (sorry, but that was what I said to myself) – shit, here is another young woman with this damn, aggressive cancer. I was still on Herceptin and still wondering if I would make it to another birthday. Now I have had three post cancer birthdays, yippee!

    The odds weren’t good, but we’re still here and I am so glad. Keep kicking butt on all levels . . . I look forward to connecting on twitter with Lanisia!

    All the best for a very, very Happy New Year!



    • December 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      you too, lisa! <3 i hope 2013 is a great one, full of love, happiness, and health.

  2. December 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Sending you Big big love love love ♥ Deb

  3. Mandi
    December 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I worry about mixing up the two (just whether or not a cancer history will impact future employment and whether or not I should have more anonymity). I started tweeting under an account tied to my blog, but ended up just tweeting my experiences under my regular account. I have pondered deleting my cancer tweets, but have decided it is all just a part of who I am.

    I hope you have a very Happy New Year Princess Lanisia!

  4. December 31, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Great to see you under any name. I’ve always used my given name for everything. My blog doesn’t have a “title” and anything online is my name as well. I never wanted cancer to replace ME. We each have our reasons, employment and privacy being two very important ones. I’m glad you found what makes you comfortable and I wish many things about cancer were as easy as changing a Twitter handle… wouldn’t that be nice?! Sending love to you under any name you darn well please. xoxo

  5. December 31, 2012 at 9:02 am

    How wonderful and timely your post is. I was diagnosed with small potatoes breast cancer (stage1) n February. It took only 4 months to complete the surgery and radiation therapy. Now I’m on Tamoxifen and it’s minor and I’m not thinking about it so much. Relief.

    When I was thinking about it it was ALL I could think of. It takes up so much space. I’m so happy you are here and have survived and flourished. Blessings!

    Happy New Year! I will watch for Princess Lanisia!

  6. December 31, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Good on you – that’s a big change. It’s so true that we connect online with those dealing with cancer but also have other interests also worth championing. I look forward to your knitting tweets. Maybe I can learn something! ~Catherine

  7. December 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm


    I will never forget your kindness in welcoming me to the twitter world… me and my blog…. So many people have come into my life this year and each one has made an impact on me.

    You share a part of that for reaching out on my behalf with your strong voice. It’s high time I offered proper thanks…. and tons of love.


    ps-I think I MUST start knitting again….. there’s a whole culture of knitters.. who KNEW????

    • January 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm

      You have so much to offer, I am sure you would have found your way. I am honored to have helped you make an entrée and am grateful for your friendship.

  8. January 4, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Dearest Lani…

    So wonderful to read about growth, out of and up. I can identify… At a certain moment, cancer becomes one of the many other things, still a neon-sign, but one of the ample others….

    Thank you for sharing!

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