A Rant about cancer “awareness” on Facebook

Pink Ribbon chocolate lollipops for Breast Can...

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Every so often (Well, more than that. Like every other day) a status update will pop up on my Facebook feed that says something like this:

Please do me a favor. Only some of you will do this and you know who you are. If you or anyone you know has battled (or died of) cancer put this up as your status update for an hour (or some other bullshit time limit). I hope all of my friends will post this, but most of you won’t.

Or something to that effect.

OR, even worse, I will see a vague message from my female friends, a secret code that only “we” are supposed to know about and that is supposed to make the men wonder what the fuck drug we are all on. Example:

I am eleventy billion weeks and craving Tootsie Rolls

Or what have you. I still don’t know what THAT one is all about. I was told this was supposed to be about Breast Cancer awareness. But how does this make anyone aware of anything? Except how fucking inane my Facebook feed is?

And let’s talk about cancer awareness. I don’t know about you but I could spend a great deal of time counting how many people in my life – directly or indirectly connected to me,   have died of cancer. As you know (if you read this blog) I watched somebody I love die of this horrific disease. I saw it completely ravage his body in the year before he succumbed to it. I fucking am VERY AWARE of cancer. Thank you very much.

So may I suggest, instead of posting vague status updates and inane copy and paste messages, that you actually DO SOMETHING worthwhile about it? Like maybe donate to cancer research? Here is a good place to start:

National Lung Cancer Partnership

And if Lung Cancer isn’t your thing here is a list of other cancer charities that might be:

Runners World: Cancer Charities with a Running Connection

A great loss


I found out on Sunday that the wife of a friend and collegue died, Ilene Rockman. She battled non-smoker’s lung cancer for three years and died on Saturday. I have been sad about it since I found out, and have wanted to post something, but have not been able to find words.

Other people in library land have posted on this passing, more eloquantly than I can. There is a nice post at Digital Koans, and at Walt Crawford’s site, who was a friend of Ilene. Fred wrote a very moving eulogy for her, found in the comments of both posts. It took me a few tries before I could read through the whole thing without crying. I am tearing up just thinking about it. Truly moving.

The word that comes to mind when I thnk if Ilene is inspiring. She was truly the most inspiring person I have had the pleasure of having contact with. This woman did not let cancer slow her down. She was giving presentations at conferences and showing up at local CARL meetings right up until, I imagine, a few months ago. When I was still living there she was still very active in the profession. I was in awe of her bravery and strength to just fight the cancer and continue persuing the work that she loved.

I only met her a handful of times, but she was always so kind and friendly, like I’d known her forever.

Fred would always talk about her with such admiration. He was so proud of her. It was so wonderful to see such love and respect from a man for his wife. I mean, read the first few paragraphs of his speech at the 2003 graduation.

I just wanted to post something in her honor. She was a truly inspiring woman and I wish that I could have gotten to know her a little bit better while she was here on this earth.

I am pasting her obituary (that she wrote) below.

Dr. Ilene Rockman, Manager of the Information Competence Initiative for the Office of the Chancellor of the 23-campuses of the California State University (CSU) system passed away on November 26, 2005 from non-smoker’s lung cancer. She was 55 years old.

Rockman worked for the CSU for over 30 years as librarian, faculty member, and administrator at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and CSU East Bay before moving to the CSU Chancellor’s Office in 2001.

A tireless advocate for integrating information literacy into the higher education curriculum, Rockman was active nationally and locally as a speaker, author, and consultant. She held leadership positions within the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL, and its California chapter), and the Reference and User Services Association.

In 2005 she received the ACRL Instruction Librarian of the Year award, and in 2003 the ACRL Distinguished Education and Behavioral Sciences Librarian award.

She was the editor and contributing author to the best selling book, Integrating Information Literacy into the Higher Education Curriculum (Jossey Bass, 2004), found in libraries around the world.

She served as a consultant to the Educational Testing Service on the development and implementation of a new performance-based test to assess higher education students’ information and communication technology (ICT) literacy skills.

She also served as editor-in-chief of Reference Services Review, and on the editorial boards of American Libraries, Library Administration and Management, The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Reference Quarterly, and Library Hi Tech. In 2005, she received the Leading Editor award from the Emerald Publishing Company of the United Kingdom for her 20 years of editing Reference Services Review.

In addition, she served on the advisory boards of the Friends of the Hayward Public Library, the Literacy Council of the Hayward Public Library, and the Bay Area Libraries and Information Systems (BALIS).

In 2004, California State Senator Liz Figueroa named her “Hayward Woman of the Year”.

Contributions may be sent to the Cancer Center at the Stanford Hospitals and Clinics (http://cancer.stanfordhospital.com/default), Women Against Lung Cancer (http://www.womenagainstlungcancer.org/), Friends of the Association of College and Research Libraries (http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/givetoacrl/friendsacrl.htm), or Friends of the Hayward Public Library (http://www.haywardlibraryfriends.org/).

She is survived by her husband Fred Gertler, of Hayward, CA and her brother, Edward Rockman, and his family, of Mill Valley, CA.

Truly a great loss.