Today I am officially done grad school. After my defense my thesis was accepted as is – a rare honour for my program – and all i have left to do is submit the paperwork and then graduate in November! It’s been a looooong process, but I am so proud of the work I did. I’ll tell you all more about it in the upcoming days, but today I am basking in the glory of reaching the finish line.
Tomorrow morning I will be defending my master’s thesis. As I’ve been preparing for this final milestone, I’ve been reflecting on how I got to this point and all the people who’ve influenced my progress. Special thanks to the phenomenal scientists whose works got me here.
Doing a master’s degree involves a heck-load of reading. I’ve cited over 150 references in my thesis manuscript and easily read twice as many more books/chapters/articles that I didn’t cite.
But there were 10 works in particular that really shaped my research and I wanted to publicly thank each of these authors for providing me with such thought-provoking pieces. Some were helpful for formulating my research topic, others guided me through the research process, and others still helped me understand the context of my study.
Reading each of these pieces served as pivotal moments in my research by opening me up to new ideas. I highly recommend giving them a read (and contact me if you need help finding a copy)!
- Murthy D (2012). Towards a sociological understanding of social media: Theorizing Twitter. Sociology, 46(6), 1059-1073.
- Frank AW (1998). Just listening: Narrative and deep illness. Families, Systems, & Health, 16(3), 197-212. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0089849
- Boellstorff T, Nardi B, Pearce C, Taylor TL (2012). Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method. Princeton University Press.
- Scotland J (2012). Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English Language Teaching, 5(9), 9.
- boyd d (2010). Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. In Papacharissi Z (Ed.), Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Routledge.
- Nissim R, Rennie D, Fleming S, Hales S, Gagliese L, Rodin G (2012). Goals set in the land of the living/dying: a longitudinal study of patients living with advanced cancer. Death studies, 36(4), 360-390.
- Thompson K (2007). Liminality as a descriptor for the cancer experience. Illness, Crisis & Loss, 15(4), 333-351.
- Hardin M (2014). Moving beyond description: Putting Twitter in (theoretical) context. Communication & Sport, 2(2), 113-116.
- Postill J, Pink S (2012). Social media ethnography: The digital researcher in a messy web. Media International Australia, 145(1), 123-134.
- Prior L (2012). Documents in Health Research. In The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Last year I posted Books I read in 2016, ranked from best to worst, so here’s my list for this year.
I realized that more than half of the books I read in 2016 were written by white men, and thus all the recommendations I got from Goodreads were for books also written by white men. My goal for this year was to read at least 26 books written by People of Colour or trans/non-binary people, and I believe I have exceeded that goal (though there are still a few books on the list below written by cis white people).
As with last year’s post, I’ve broken down the list into different categories based on how I enjoyed the stories:
- Numbers 1 – 10 are joining my list of favourites
- Numbers 11 – 18 were very good, and I would happily read them again
- Numbers 19 – 31 were good, but not my taste. I would not choose to read them again, though I may recommend them to someone else.
- Numbers 32 – 38 were not so good, would avoid re-reading and would only recommend to others in very specific circumstances
- Numbers 39 – 40 were terrible and I would not recommend to anyone
Best Reads of 2017
- The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1) by Seanan McGuire
- Small Beauty by Jai Qing Wilson-Yang
- The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie
- Bow Grip by Ivan Coyote
- Version Control by Dexter Palmer
- The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
- Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant
- After Dark by Haruki Murakami
- Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett
- Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
- A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett
- Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
- Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1) by Mira Grant
- Shadows Cast By Stars by Catherine Knutsson
- Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Hadriana in All My Dreams by René Depestre
- American Street by Ibi Zoboi
- Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3) by Mira Grant
- He Mele A Hilo by Ryka Aoki
- Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall
- Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney
- The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer
- A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott
- Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
- If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
- Killer of Enemies (Killer of Enemies, #1) by Joseph Bruchac
- Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2) by Mira Grant
- One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
- The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
- Discount Armageddon (InCryptid, #1) by Seanan McGuire
- Annabelle by Kathleen Winter
- Fellside by M.R. Carey
- The First Bad Man by Miranda July
- Faust Among Equals by Tom Holt
- Adam by Ariel Schrag
Got any recommendations for my 2018 list? Leave a comment!
I’ve got into the homestretch of my masters thesis research, studying Twitter use among people living with advanced, metastatic, chronic, terminal, or incurable cancer. There are still some analyses left to do, but I’ve started to write (and write, and write, and write some more) as a way to begin making sense of it all. I suppose this blog post fits within this sense-making activity too.
I loved speaking to and getting to know a small piece of those people who were gracious enough to let me interview them for this study. As the drudgery of going through data again and again and again starts to wear me down, I find myself thinking back on some of those interviewees, mentally re-listening to the words they said and the emotions that came through as they spoke. I have a particularly soft spot for their laughter, and it gives me a wistful feeling thinking about deleting those audio files when this project’s finished.
I also find myself wondering what they’re up to now. It’s been a year or two since I spoke to most of them, so I can’t help but be curious about what’s changed in their lives since. In many cases I didn’t know their Twitter handle, but there were a few I ended up remembering for one reason or another. And so a few weeks ago I found myself looking up one of those people: Robin*.
When I spoke to Robin, they were in the midst of writing a book. This is not an uncommon thing for people living with cancer to want to do, as I quickly learned when I started working at Princess Margaret in 2010. Within weeks of starting the job I was introduced to several patients who had been writing and self-publishing their own memoirs, and have heard of many more doing the same since. For Robin, writing a book was something they’d always been interested in doing and since getting their terminal cancer diagnosis, it was a bucket-list item they decided to work on.
Anyway, so a few weeks ago I found myself wondering if Robin ever finished the book. I looked them up on Twitter to see what’d been happening since we spoke, and… well, Robin had died a few months after the interview. Logically-speaking, I recognize that this was a very real possibility. When we spoke, Robin told me they had already lived 4 times longer than the doctors expected when they were first diagnosed. Medically-speaking, Robin was not going to outlive this cancer diagnosis. Robin knew this, Robin’s doctors knew this, I knew this. And yet emotionally-speaking, I was not prepared to see this happen.
One of my first thoughts was that I’d hoped Robin was able to finish writing their book before they died, but I quickly realized maybe I was looking at things all wrong. I don’t believe Robin’s point was to ever “finish” the book, but rather it would forever be something that Robin worked on for as long as they could. The book would only be “finished” when Robin died (it’s worth saying here that I do not know if that’s how Robin felt, this is me sorting out thoughts).
But interesting still that the goal would be a book rather than a blog – something Robin also did, along with using other social media to talk about their disease. I don’t know if the book was ever (or ever will be) published, but having that goal in mind – to produce a tangible object that could last for decades, that has a sense of permanence – makes me wonder: Was the point to leave something behind, to leave (at least a piece) of Robin’s life story behind so they could leave a lasting mark?
Was that also the point of writing publicly on Twitter?
Was that also the point of participating in my interview? To leave a mark on me and anyone else who would read my research?
I’ll never be able to know.
* not their real name
I am so happy to announce I have a new paper published in JMIR, an open-access journal on medicine and the internet. Read the abstract below, and click the links to read the full article.
Authors: JL Bender, AB Cyr, L Arbuckle, LE Ferris