12 June 2011
Another friend has been given a breast cancer diagnosis. She spent the better part of last week at UAMS, in conference with her new medical team. She’ll spend the next several months battling this nasty cancer – a disease that has taken the life of her mother and her sister. My friend is definitely taking this unfortunate battle very seriously.
A few nights ago we were visiting about what lies ahead in terms of treatment, side effects, timelines, logistics of care, and more. My first piece of advice to her – get your home and life as organized as possible as the next several months you will only have the energy to battle cancer. Home maintenance, yard care and deep cleaning will definitely be put on hold for a while.
We then moved to the topic of keeping family and friends informed. She’s trying to make that decision now about how to do that.
There are several options including electronic mail to a designated list. After my diagnosis, email updates seemed like the most sensible way to go – that is until I began to think about who to include on the distribution list. If email becomes the communications tool, there is the very real potential of leaving people off who really care, and including others who would rather not be bombarded with regular email updates. I quickly moved from email to social media.
There are many advantages to using a social media network:
§ It eases the burden of the patient, eliminating time-consuming phone calls and emotional conversations. With social media, one post can communicate with an unlimited number of family and friends.
§ Loved ones far away feel much more connected during the serious illness of someone they love.
§ It allows those who want to keep up with your health updates to voluntarily go to your online site. There is nothing intrusive about your blog whatsoever. Engagement is strictly voluntary.
§ Blogs and other social networks allow friends to leave a message. New research shows that verbal support from loved ones, connecting with family and friends is extremely important for those dealing with a serious illness. It lifts the spirits, relieves stress, and creates a compassionate community that brings hope and a sense of healing.
Creating my own blog was the option I chose. Being in the public relations field, it seemed only natural that I should use the same communications tool I recommend to many of my clients. There are also other online alternatives to creating a blog that make it very easy – like CaringBridge and CarePages. Both of them are free website blogs that connect friends and family during a health challenge.
When battling cancer or any other compromising disease, the primary consideration is what is most comfortable for you.
While there are those who will choose to keep their health battle private, I for one am convinced that there is power in the connection with and love from friends. Blogging also helped me find my voice, and allowed me to express my thoughts about the struggles cancer brings to all those affected. It served as a soul cleansing for me.
But remember – blogging is not just for the sick. There are several blogs I follow from very healthy family and friends who’ve created a blog for different reasons. Family friend Lindsey keeps a blog about her current adventure - studying abroad in London. My daughter Allyson keeps a blog about transitioning from college into the world of work and adult life. Heather’s blog, Sunshine Dreams to You, is about discovering a life of dreams fulfilled with our authentic selves. And a friend from Hendrix, Mr. Bobo, varies his posts from nostalgia to humor, my favorite being his suggestion of friends gathering to help write one another’s obituaries, with martinis included.
Blogging is becoming more and more popular each day. It’s fun, a creative outlet, an avenue to be heard, and a way to stay connected, or sometimes create new connections. Why not give it a try. There are many reasons good reasons to join the blogosphere.
Seek magazine is a publication of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. And during this last year, I’ve found the stories and articles published to be not only informative but very inspiring too. This month Seek has a story about patients who share their cancer journeys online – Coping One Keystroke at a Time. WARNING: Yes, the story mentions my blog, but there is also the story about another blogger, a husband from Atlanta, who found comfort during his wife’s struggle with multiple myeloma.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 9:27 AM