Befriending Dragons

Turn Scary Into Attainable


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Befriending Dragons Happy Hour

I have so many thoughts and ideas about where my passion will lead me next. I haven’t yet settled on any one thing for a new career, so I went back to the basics. Listen. Listen to my community. I envision my community as marginalized people in tech. So I have started a meetup group where we can get together and talk. Where we can listen to each other. Where we help each other. Join me and let’s go on this journey to our futures together.

#DatesWithDragons in the snow

A gathering place for people forging new paths after harassment at work.

This is a safe space – no hate speech, bullying, harassment, or discrimination is tolerated. We value input from a variety of identities and will center the views, needs, and decisions of those who are not cishet white men.

I’m a 50 year old white woman leaving the tech world. As I talk about the harassment, bullying, and discrimination I’ve faced over the years other women open up about their own experiences. So many of us have no place to talk to others with the same experiences. Let’s share our stories, our growth, our pain and joy. This is a place to talk about surviving and thriving, about careers, family, friends, life, work, play, and about disrupting the white patriarchy to nurture a new way of doing things.

#Words4Justice

Befriending Dragons – Life After Workplace Harassment

Bellevue, WA
3 Members

A gathering place for people forging new paths after harassment at work.This is a safe space – no hate speech, bullying, harassment, or discrimination is tolerated. We value …

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Befriending Dragons Happy Hour

Sunday, Feb 10, 2019, 3:00 PM
1 Attending

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Befriending Dragons | #Words4Justice

Today is my last official day at Microsoft.

I no longer feel safe, comfortable, or valued working in tech. Going forward I’ll be working to actively disrupt tech culture and systems to reduce harassment and discrimination. Keep an eye on #Words4Justice. ūüėä

Be kind. Be brave. Go beyond ally to accomplice to actively disrupt bullying and discrimination.

cindygross@outlook.com 
@cindygross | @SQLCindy #Words4Justice
http://befriendingdragons.com/

My experiences

Shared Experiences Meetup


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Would you go to jail for Human Rights?

AT4WFeb272014JailBus_AshtonPage

Add the 4 Words supporters being arrested and transported from the Statehouse to the Ada County Jail. Photo by Ashton Page.

I believe in justice. I believe in human rights. I believe gay rights are human rights. I believe the Equal Protection Clause of the¬†14th Amendment¬†to the US Constitution guarantees “Equal Justice Under Law”. Idaho is keeping that justice from an entire group of people – those who are gay. Gay teens in Idaho are bullied into suicide. Gay teens and adults are denied jobs or promotions. Gay folks can’t take a picture of their partner to work. Straight employees can’t take pictures of their gay adult child and that child’s partner to work. People of all orientations avoid taking jobs in Idaho or refuse to bring their businesses here because they worry about their families. What do you believe in? What are you willing to do in support of those beliefs?

I am willing to fight for what is right, to fight for everyone of every sexual orientation and every gender identity.¬†Last week I¬†chose to be¬†arrested, along with 45 other supporters,¬†in support of the¬†“Add the 4 Words” cause. The Republican Leadership in the Idaho legislature won’t even hold a hearing to listen to the stories of those who face discrimination for their real or perceived sexual orientation – and we all have a sexual orientation.¬†We have lobbied legislative leadership, shared poll results showing a vast majority of Idahoans across the state believe firing someone just because they are gay is wrong, and told them our personal stories. Yet still¬†leadership silences our voices, ignores their constituents, and¬†refuses to hold a public hearing where their own constituents could testify. What do you believe in? What are you willing to do in support of those beliefs?

With the support of former Idaho Governor and former head of the Idaho Republican Party Phil Batt, in the 1960s Idaho added a Human Rights Act. We simply want to Add the Words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to that existing act to tell Idahoans that gay folks get the same basic human rights as the rest of us. Former Governor Batt supports this modification to the act he helped create – he wants his gay grandson to feel safe while visiting Idaho. He calls the¬†current legislature’s failure to act “disdain.” What do you believe in? What are you willing to do in support of those beliefs?

You can spend a few minutes or a few hours or a few days on an action – start as small as you want. Do one action or many. Just do something. Stand up for your beliefs, for the fact that all humans deserve basic dignity and respect and the freedom pursue their happiness. Start with any one of the items below. See how that feels. And come back for more when you’re ready. What do you believe in? What are you willing to do in support of those beliefs?

Cindy Gross - Arrested in support of Add the Words, Idaho Feb 27, 2014

Cindy Gross – Arrested in support of Add the Words, Idaho Feb 27, 2014. What will you do? Photo by Ada County Sheriff Deputies.

1) Tell Governor Otter your thoughts on Idaho’s reputation with regards to human rights, especially gay rights. This is even more important for those of you don’t live in Idaho. Would you visit Idaho? Would you start a business here? Would you bring your family here for a job? Give him a personal story.

2) Follow @AddTheWords and @AddThe4Words on Twitter. Now tweet why you support gay rights in Idaho and tag one or both of those accounts. Consider tagging Governor Otter, Senator Hill, your own legislators, or national folks who we may be able to engage in the cause.

3) Donate to Add the 4 Words to help cover the bail and fines of those standing up to be arrested.

4) Participate in the next non-arrest event sponsored by Add the 4 Words or Add the Words.

5) Sign up to participate in¬†in the next Add the 4 Words arrest action – you don’t have to be arrested, you can volunteer as an observer or supporter.

6) Contact your Idaho State Senator and two Idaho State Representatives plus Senator Brent Hill. Note that this is NOT the same as your US Senators (Crapo and Risch) and US Representatives (Labrador and Simpson). There are 35 districts in Idaho Рthere are many different legislators. I am happy to help you figure out who to contact (cgross1@hotmail.com).

7) Tell your friends why you believe Add the Words is the right thing to do.

8) Donate to the Add the Words documentary http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/add-the-words-a-documentary

9) Follow the Add the Words Blog http://addthewords.blogspot.com/. Offer to contribute a blog post or be interviewed for a blog post.

What do you believe in? What are you willing to do in support of those beliefs?


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Stupid Cancer – Survivor Spotlight Tonight at 6p

Stupid cancer. It can be a devastating diagnosis – even if like me you’ve “won the cancer lottery” and ended up with a very treatable breast cancer. In my case I’m cured – a couple of small scars, a bit of a fading sunburn on one side, and memories. I can no longer say I don’t have tattoos; I have three tiny “prison blue” dots across my chest as a reminder of my radiation treatment. Stupid cancer.

As a professional data geek I see lots of hope for the future of cancer diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. New “Big Data” technologies promise to improve the¬†accuracy of¬†screenings, speed up genetic testing, and improve the lives of those with a cancer¬†diagnosis. Stupid cancer.

As an amateur community organizer and activist I regularly fight for¬†human rights¬†– gay rights, women’s rights, the rights of those who are being denied the opportunity to live normal lives for no good reason. Cancer denies people¬†the right to live normal lives – I’m working to fit fighting for cancer survivors into my activism. Stupid cancer.

My mom died from breast cancer in 1997. One of the big surprises of getting my own breast cancer diagnosis was my sense of relief. I hadn’t realized how much I had been waiting for stupid cancer to happen to me. Heredity may only account for 5-10% of breast cancers but I apparently¬†still had it in my subconscious that my mom had it so I would get it. The non-stop awareness campaigns sometimes seem to just make us afraid without giving us something concrete to actually do. Stupid cancer.

This stupid cancer definitely gave me a new perspective on life. Tune in to hear me talk about being a cancer survivor on tonight’s Stupid Cancer show at 6p MST: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stupidcancershow/2014/02/18/single-fathers-of-cancer

“Bereavement from cancer is the one of the most difficult parts of dealing with cancer. Join us for tonight‚Äôs bereavement roundtable, where we talk to Justin M. Yopp, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, UNC School of Medicine, Dep’t of Psychiatry) and Matt Herynk co-founder of Young Cancer Spouses about the coping with the loss of a loved one due to cancer. Survivor Spotlight on blogger Cindy Gross.”

To listen live, visit http://stupidcancershow.org

To subscribe to the iTunes podcast, visit http://stupidcancer.org/itunes

To subscribe via iHeartRadio, visit http://stupidcancer.org/ihearttradio


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Taking it Easy with Radiation

When I was diagnosed¬†with Breast Cancer¬†I quickly found out that I was going to have things relatively easy. In less than three weeks from my diagnosis I had a lumpectomy which removed a very small, low-grade¬†tumor and almost certainly removed every trace of the cancer. This past Monday I started the radiation that will make sure any lingering microscopic cancer cells are gone from my left breast. Two small, neat scars from the surgery¬†are the extent of my side effects so far.¬†I might¬†possibly have a little bit of mild short term fatigue from the radiation towards the end of treatment.¬†I’ve had one week of radiation so that means I have 5 more weeks, 5 days a week, to go. The first five weeks they¬†treat my entire left breast – they created the plan to be very directed and avoid my heart and lungs. The last week has a “boost” that focuses radiation just on the area where the .9cm tumor was. I see the radiation oncologist, Dr. Kuhn,¬†every Tuesday right after the radiation treatment so she can make sure the treatment is going well.

Green Boots

My beautiful green boots!

On the first day of treatment I wore¬†my green cowboy boots. Everyone from radiation check-in to the radiation techs raved about the boots. As a bonus they match the green hospital gowns they have us change into. It’s nice to have something positive to think about because walking past a waiting room full of people waiting for chemo treatments on my way to the elevator down to radiation can be a bit depressing. I feel guilty about having it so much easier than they do.

Radiation Room

The purple section rotates and is where the radiation comes from

The daily¬†treatment is¬†very fast and easy. Before my first¬†treatment they put three freckle sized tattoos, literal pin pricks of blue ink, on my body. Every weekday morning at 9am I go in, lay¬†face-up on a table, and put my hands on the handles behind my head (see the green circle on the picture).¬†They move the sheet under me to get the laser on the ceiling to line up with the three tattoos so the radiation is directed at the correct area. Then the entire machine rotates – the section circled in purple ends up at an angle about a foot above my right side, facing the inside of my left breast. I hear some whirring noises for about a minute – that’s the radiation being dispensed. Then it rotates to be even with my left side, the radiation tech shifts the table a bit, and the machine whirrs again for about a minute. That’s it. I get changed from my hospital gown into my clothes and go home. Fast, easy, painless.¬†It’s amazingly simple and the techs are very friendly and answer all my questions.

The hardest parts¬†are getting there on time each day and not being able to wear deodorant or antiperspirant. I have to use their hospital grade lotion¬†and increase my protein intake but otherwise my life is very normal.¬†Everything¬†is easy and my great circle of friends has been incredibly supportive! I’m very lucky and happy to be getting on with my life!


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How To Really Be Aware This October

Thanks to the “I Had Cancer” site for posting my guest blog this week on How To Really Be Aware This October.

Everywhere we turn we hear about ‚Äúawareness‚ÄĚ. That’s great, but what does it mean? Now it is Breast Cancer Awareness month ‚Äď but awareness of what? What do you do with all this awareness? Will you be more aware at the end of this October than you were last October? What did you learn? And what will you do differently?

Read the rest here.


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Diagnosis – Those First Moments of Breast Cancer

I wrote this Reader’s Opinion for the “Pink Edition” of the Idaho Statesman October 2, 2013 for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

Do something. Anything. Make the cancer go away. What will I have to endure ‚Äď will they chop off my breasts, make me ingest toxic drugs, poke me and prod me and stick me with needles and run me through machines? Quick; learn the difference between an MRI and an ultrasound and a mammogram ‚Äď what does each really do, what does each detect, what kinds of false positives and false negatives might occur with each. This isn‚Äôt happening, it‚Äôs really a mistake. The test results aren‚Äôt really mine. Are they?

Keep Calm and Fight Cancer

Keep Calm and Fight Cancer

Deep breath. Of course it‚Äôs my diagnosis. And it‚Äôs mine to deal with. I can either panic (been there, done that ‚Äď just a few seconds ago) and wallow in fear and pain or I can deal with it and move past it. Doesn‚Äôt seem like much of a choice, I guess I‚Äôll deal with it.¬†¬†¬† It.¬†¬†¬† The breast cancer. I can fight it. I will fight it like a girl ‚Äď proud and strong. I‚Äôll overcome it. And I did. The cancer is gone. A little lumpectomy ‚Äď done. A few weeks of radiation just in case there‚Äôs a microscopic cancer cell or two left over ‚Äď coming in a few weeks with few expected side effects. Genetic testing ‚Äď negative for the common breast and ovarian cancer causing mutations including BRCA. What a relief. I‚Äôm cured and I still have breasts that look pretty much like they did before. I‚Äôm done. I survived.

I took that fearsome cancer dragon and I turned it into something to live with. I didn’t do it alone. I have a great circle of friends who went with me to the biopsy and doctor appointments and pre-op and post-op…. They sent positive thoughts and showed they cared and they also knew when I just needed to be alone. I have a highly trained surgeon and oncologists and lab techs and nurses and even a nurse navigator assigned by the hospital. I work for a company that provides me with great insurance so I don’t have to worry about paying for all this wonderful medical care and the frequent screenings I will have in the future.

I am so lucky in so many ways. They caught my cancer early, I have wonderful friends, I asked questions and went back for additional screening after the initial false negative, and I have access to medical care many in this country can‚Äôt afford ‚Äď though many more will get the care they need as more and more ObamaCare provisions are enacted.

You too can be lucky ‚Äď take charge of your own life. Ask questions, take action, and be your own best advocate. Schedule your mammogram. Fight like a girl. Love your friends. Ask questions. Befriend your dragons. Help someone in need. Thank those who help you. Do, be, live, love, grow, change. And never give up.