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Federal Eye
Posted at 07:25 PM ET, 05/17/2012

State Department restores Foreign Service spouse’s blog to its Web site after pulling it


Jennifer Dinoia (Jennifer Dinoia)

Jennifer Dinoia’s blog, pulled from a State Department blogroll following an intimate posting on her reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, is back in its prominent spot on the agency’s Web site.

“The Dinoia Family,” which has featured the Foreign Service spouse’s journey through a breast cancer diagnosis at 39 as her husband was on a solo tour in Iraq, reappeared Thursday on the State Department-sanctioned site, hours after The Post reported that it had disappeared.

Dinoia had used the “n” word — Nipple — as she described the latest of four reconstructive breast surgeries, which recreated a nipple on her left breast. To avoid infection during her recovery, she had to protect the surgical site with a protective gauze contraption a friend dubbed a “nipple cozy.”

On Thursday afternoon, the following statement appeared prominently on the blogroll:

To our Bloggers: 
As you can see, we have re-linked to Jen Dinoia’s blog and sincerely regret any offense we caused. We appreciate all your efforts to share your personal Foreign Service experiences (writ large) and are pleased to offer them a wider audience. We will certainly try to be more sensitive in future decisions regarding placements. Thanks again for your efforts and your service.
– Jeff Levine, Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment 

Earlier, in a statement to The Post, State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said the blog “has been restored” on the State Department’s recruitment page. “It had been taken down as part of a periodic effort by a contractor to review and freshen the blog links on the site.”

But the statement was at odds with what Dinoia was told in an e-mail early this week by a recruiting and marketing consultant for the agency when she discovered her blog had been removed from the State Department blogroll.

“Hopefully, you can understand that some topics covered in your blog are very personal in nature, e.g. nipple cozies,” the employee wrote, “and wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the majority of potential candidates who are interested in learning about the FS [Foreign Service] life overseas.”

“Through our years of recruitment experience, we found that FS prospects want to learn more about the work that’s conducted, the people and cultures with whom they will interact, the travel experiences, and the individual stories our employees have to share.”

“If the explanation really was that simple, why didn’t they say that at first?” Dinoia said Thursday. “Something still doesn’t make sense. The reason they gave me was just bizarre.”

In an April 26 post headlined “I have a new kind of cozy,” Dinoia, who lives in Annandale, described the “nipple cozy,” part of her post-surgery recovery regimen.

“I have the new style (close your eyes if you fear TMI ... this is one of those posts), er, nipple cozy, if you will,” she wrote. For levity, she posted two images of tea cozies she pulled from the Internet.

She explained how the delicate surgery required her new nipple to be carefully cared for. She described the “amazing talents” of her plastic surgeon, details of the procedure and recovery and her young son’s supportive reaction.

Then, this week, she received an e-mail from a State Department employee who was rotating the blog list and had noticed that hers was gone. The employee wondered whether Dinoia had asked for the blog to be removed. She hadn’t, and was confused, since State officials found her blog’s personal nature of so much interest that two years ago they asked her if they could feature it. So she started asking questions.

Dinoia posted the e-mail on her blog. By Wednesday evening, it had 700 hits, a high point since she started blogging in 2005.

“It really shook me to the core,” she said in an interview Wednesday. Her husband, Peter, is getting ready to move to Afghanistan for a year on a solo tour.

Dinoia started the blog during the family’s tour in Iceland, and has kept it up through postings in Venezuela and California. She writes about the stresses and joys of foreign service life for families, and about her three children, who are 13, 10 and 4.

In recent years, she has graphically described her struggle with breast cancer, which led to a mastectomy and grueling reconstructive surgeries.

“So you mean describing stories about life after a diagnosis of breast cancer when your FS [Foreign Service] husband is serving in Iraq on an unaccompanied tour 6,219 miles away is not an individual story?” she wrote Wednesday after learning why her blog was removed from the State Department site.

“You mean detailing how you got through said issue, how you managed to pick yourself up off the floor each day despite feeling like your world had completely fallen apart (oh, wait, it had) and managed to somehow dust yourself off and keep going with your Foreign Service life is of no interest? Guess that means I am the *only* one who will ever have to deal with such a thing.”

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This post has been updated since it was first published.

By  |  07:25 PM ET, 05/17/2012

 
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