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Calaneet Balas and Jessica Safran

OCNA CEO Calaneet Balas and Jessica Safran at OCNA’s Teal Gala in May 2015.

Time for the pseudo-quarterly blog post, just right for my slow summer pace. It’s been awhile. I keep thinking I’ll focus on the blog more, but I’ve been easily distracted.

There’s been some identity shifting going on.


My daughter graduated 5th grade and starts middle school in September. Which means she is officially a tween. What that means for me as a mother of one of those, I cannot even fathom, but I’m sure I’ll find out… repeatedly. So far it’s been kind of fascinating. I suspect I’ll have more to say about this identity shift soon, but right now I just need to keep observing it.

My cancer came back, again. It’s very clingy and needs a lot of help through the infusion of toxic drugs to separate from me safely. That said, I’m doing well. This means, that my identity is shifting into that of a recurrent cancer survivor, which has been kind of an adventure.

I’m also becoming a public speaker: an “expert” cancer survivor. (Actually, anyone who is a cancer survivor is by definition an expert on their survivorship.)

This past May, I had the privilege of speaking in NYC at the Teal Gala, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s (OCNA) annual fundraiser for their important program, Survivors Teaching Students STS), in which I participate whenever I can.

We humans are wired to tell and receive stories – that’s always been how we learn and remember best. STS is a forum for survivors to tell our stories to gynecological oncology medical and nursing students. When I speak on an STS panel, I’m not just a cancer case. I’m a woman with wisdom to share, which could save another woman’s life.
 I’m helping change the conversation about ovarian cancer. I’m helping change patient/doctor communication and therefore patient outcomes for the better.

I want to shift the identity of ovarian cancer from silent killer to long term treatable disease. Baby steps!

My favorite part of the conference brochure.

I’m also excited to announce that I’m a keynote speaker for CancerCare’s 25th Annual Living with Cancer Conference: Confronting the Challenge. Sunday, July 12, 2015, 9:15am – 3:30pm.

The conference benefits people living with cancer, their families, friends and health care professionals, is free of charge, and will offer information and practical tips to confront the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer. This is an all-day conference with free breakfast and lunch, and plenary sessions in the morning and break-out sessions in the afternoon. To register or for further information, download the conference brochure, or call 212-712-8368. At this late date, you can register at the conference site the same day, if you are unable to do so sooner.

The Identity Shift Project is doing it’s own identity shifting.


I’m also excited about focusing on The Identity Shift Project with renewed energy. We’ve refreshed the mission statement to focus more on collaboration and the fact that many identity shifts are ongoing. Here it is:

The Identity Shift Project brings new perspectives to healing through artistic collaboration with people experiencing significant life change.

We’ve also updated the Gallery section design making it easier see what’s there and navigate, and we finally curated some content for the homepage slideshow, outrageously overdue for a photography project, to be sure.

Our (finally) updated homepage.

We’re looking forward to working with more participants, continuing to explore current themes and exploring new themes and artistic collaborations.

I also promise that the next post will go up before half a year – no make that a quarter of a year – has elapsed.

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