Wednesday, May 23, 2012


In addition to this new gig as the Mozambique Initiative Coordinator, I am still toiling away on the dissertation and hope (plan, pray, plead) to graduate in May 2013. Data collection has ramped up to full speed this week, while previously, I had just been working on the literature review and background information.  But now (on a much more exciting note!) I am conducting interviews with young, African American women with breast cancer throughout the city of St. Louis.  I am up to my ears in new data.  These interviews involve asking intimate questions about personal history, family life, and the growing up experience, in addition to asking about the current circumstances regarding their diagnosis and treatment.   

What has struck me the hardest is the fact that when you dig, you quickly uncover tragedy, heartache, and pain just lying beneath the surface of many of these women's lives.  Before breast cancer ever came into the picture, many of these women had long since been survivors.  I have been inspired by their resiliency,  their ability to forgive, their capacity to grow and blossom under the most extreme circumstances, the laughter that has been cultivated in the midst of heart ache, and the smiles that cover me like a warm blanket.  I have been humbled and inspired by their stories.  Whether or not anybody ever has reason to call me Dr. Bollinger, I know that these one-on-one exchanges with the women in my study have given me knowledge and insight beyond what I had ever imagined.  I am changed and I am grateful.

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