|Pink Ribbon Keyboard
Photo © Microsoft
When Ann Silberman was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, she said "But Doctor -I Hate Pink!" and promptly started to blog about it. That was three years ago, and her reach has grown to include social media. Her cancer metastasized and became Stage 4, which isn't usually though of as a laughing matter. In fact, such a situation would bring on instant depression in many of us. But Ann dove in to the complete experience and came up with funny blogs about life in treatment. She wrote up some helpful tips on getting through chemo - which is famous for causing side effects - and I like how she expressed the importance of taking the anti-nausea meds. "Be a wimp and slam the drugs. You get no points for bringing yourself to the point of a three hour puke." Clearly, she didn't spend time feeling sick, when the right pills were nearby!
When I was diagnosed 11 years ago, blogs were just becoming the "thing to do" and even though I was working as a webmaster at the time, I barely knew what a blog was! And I was so sick during chemo that I couldn't write up much about it, so my husband kept a journal for me. But his perspective was very different than mine, and it wasn't a very emotional write-up, either. I needed a support group and I needed some emotional outlets, but didn't know how to get started. That was in the days before CaringBridge, Twitter, and free blogging sites all over webiverse!
Well, now some people at UCLA have done a study on breast cancer patients and their personal websites. They created Project Connect Online (PCO) and recruited 88 breast cancer survivors to participate. The patients took three-hour workshops that introduced them to blogging and creating online journals with social media that chronicled their treatment experience as well as how it affected their lives. They had created a starter website by the end of the workshops. These newbie bloggers took a battery of standard tests to measure psychological status before, and six months after their class on online journaling. You might think that only 20-somethings would be interested in a class like this, but women between the ages of 28 to 76 signed up, and all were producing blogs by the end of class.
The Project Connect Online group found that women who participated were able to benefit in several ways from blogging about their experiences and emotions. Breast cancer blogging gave patients an outlet in which to express fears, thanks, and need for support. Instead of having to email or phone up all of their relatives and friends, they could put all that information in one place and feel less burdened about keeping the news going out. PCO bloggers reported less depression, better mood, and more appreciation for life.
"We are encouraged by these positive findings," Annette Stanton said, "especially for cancer survivors with the most need, those in active medical treatment or with more advanced disease. Our next step is to gain support for a larger test of Project Connect Online." Dr. Stanton is a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of psychology and psychiatry/biobehavioral sciences at UCLA.
Do you blog or journal about breast cancer? How has it affected your experience? Post a comment and include a link to your blog below.
|| Newsletter Signup | Forum | E-Course | Google+ |