Blogging Your Illness: "You're Not Doing This Alone"
A conversation has broken out online about how much information is too much information when it comes to blogging and tweeting about illness. The Brian Lehrer Show takes calls from those who write about their health on the sense of community, the role of humor, and the reasons people decide to share.
Well today has been fun. This morning a friend texted and said that Brian Lehrer was talking about people who blog about their illnesses on his show and that I should call in. I have no idea what possessed me, but I did exactly that! Before I knew it I was on the air and talking about how beneficial it was for me to have my blog while I was going through treatment.
I didn’t realize it at the time but the whole reason the subject of blogging your illness came up at all was because of a woman who has a cancer blog and who is chronicling her own journey through this disease. She has stage four breast cancer. Apparently two “journalists” decided they didn’t like the amount of information she was sharing on her blog and let the world know by writing two articles in separate publications stating just that. Their belief being that she was sharing too much, that there was no need to talk about how horrible it all was, etc… In a way I am glad that I didn’t know going into the call what exactly had sparked the conversation to begin with. I feel like that helped me to come in with a positive approach to how therapeutic it has been for me to have the blog in my life.
Anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time knows how much it means to me to be able to have a space that I deem “safe” to vent the often tidal wave of emotions which can come up when you are going through treatment. There’s the waiting to hear the results of a biopsy, the day you are diagnosed, a rushed surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, shots, blood tests, more shots, another surgery, and many decisions that you have to make quickly which you should never even have to ponder in your life to begin with. I started the blog as a way to process what I was feeling. I wrote on this blog every day for the entire length of my treatment. It was a place that I knew was waiting for me at the end of every day. It was one of the first things I thought of whenever something new or heavy was thrown at me. I knew I could go home, turn on the computer, and get it all out on my blog. My choice to have pictures accompany what I had written was also a personal one, but one that I have never regretted for a second. I think it’s important to know what it is really like to have cancer or to go through something like this. If people don’t want to see it, they don’t have to. It’s as simple as going to another website or getting off the computer.
For me, this blog has turned into an entire community of support and friendship which helped me to navigate what might have been even more scary and overwhelming had I not had such an incredible environment to suss out my feelings on any given day. I like to think that the blog helped more people than just myself. I have met so many amazing people who also have their own stories to tell, and who have gone through something just as harrowing and who chose to let the world follow along. We have a choice in writing, and everyone else has a choice in reading what is written. It’s as simple as that.
To try and condemn someone for finding a healthy outlet for a life threatening illness is not even reprehensible, it’s just mean. And again, if you don’t like something, don’t read it. There’s also the old adage that if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all. Especially when you’re talking about somebody’s journey with cancer. Maybe just butt out.
Having a blog can be a wonderful way to deal with your emotions surrounding the disease. To be able to articulate what you are feeling, and to possibly share it with others is a gift. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Better to talk about what is happening than to suffer silently with the fear of burdening others who might in fact want to know what you are going through, but who might possibly feel helpless in even knowing where to begin. It’s nice to have a place where the people you love, and even some of the kindest strangers you will meet, can come to check in on you, and to share in your experience. I am grateful in that I have been met with nothing but kindness throughout my entire journey. I have been humbled at the level of compassion which has come my way from complete strangers. Where is the bad in that? I believe that having my blog is one of the key factors in me staying positive throughout my treatment and even in what I see as another incredibly difficult time which is post-treatment as well.
Hopefully I didn’t sound like too much of a ding-dong on the air today. I had just had a coffee and before I knew it I was actually on the show so I was a little bit taken aback! Ah well! I tried!
And to any of you who are new to the Boo, I invite you to please, fix yourself a tea (it’s cold outside!), and have a stroll through the archives to see what it’s all about. For those of you who have been here for so long… thank you. You made everything so much less scary, and you make the thought of ever having to do this again so much less frightening.