It’s the Little Things…

…that can just make you crazy if you let them.

A Foreign Service blogger and longtime friend of mine found out this week that her blog has been removed from the Careers page at the State Department website. Why? Because she blogged about her boobs too much.

No, really, apparently that was it. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late thirties just after her husband went to Iraq. So, yeah, that was stressful. And maybe just a teeny bit more so because, you see, her husband was in Iraq. Why was he in Iraq? Because they are in the Foreign Service. Tour abruptly curtailed, life turned upside down, etc. So, yeah, she blogged about all that that. A lot.

A couple of years later, she is now the vice president of an organization that represents Foreign Service family members, her husband is headed to Iraq once again in a couple of weeks for what we in the Foreign Service call an unaccompanied tour, after which they already know they are going to a follow-on post in a very foreign sort of place, and her blog has been deemed not sufficiently Foreign Service-y to be listed on said web page.

As anyone who has been in the Foreign Service for while might guess, that page was almost certainly set up by someone at State to show everyone how cool State is because they have actually heard of “web logs.” Not to convey useful information. So, I’m frankly surprised that anyone noticed said blogger was going on about her (well-traveled) boobs. But given that someone did, I still fail to see the logic.

Many of us in the Foreign Service community do, in fact, have boobs. I have two, last I checked (and I’ve been checking more often since my friend got breast cancer out of the blue). Said boobs go everywhere with me. They have been poked, palpated, mammogrammed and sonogrammed in various doctor’s offices on four continents. And I bet I have lots of FS friends who can beat that record.

Even more of us, boobed and unboobed, experience medical emergencies of various kinds, both Stateside and overseas. We all know that our medical situations are absolutely, inextricably, tied up with our officers Foreign Service careers, and our families lives. Medical clearances are one important consideration, but the risks can be far greater than that.

My own family has never experienced cancer. But we have had other, very serious medical events happen during overseas tours that I could easily blog about if I chose to. For me, these events are simply too personal and painful to share publicly. In fact, I probably wouldn’t blog about having breast cancer if I had it–though I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t.

But I absolutely defend the right of any Foreign Service blogger to post in 3-D technicolor detail about anything they feel comfortable sharing online. Major and minor medical events are an integral part of Foreign Service life. Does anyone seriously think that my friend’s cancer had no effect on her husband’s career? Oh wait, it’s easy enough to find out. Just read her blog!




  1. Can I use some of this for our joint blog post? Or, perhaps you’d like to help me finish the post I’ve started? It is in the comments section of Jen’s update in FB.


  2. Kelly, you really write beautifully and I agree with you 100%. Any health issue of a Foreign Service office or family member is not only personal, but has a huge impact on the way we live out our diplomatic life. In addition, the health crisis is taking place in a family that also has the demands of “worldwide availability” and unaccompanied tours. THIS is the reality of Foreign Service life.


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