How a blog and social media helped me fight cancer

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One of the first things I did after being diagnosed with cancer was run on my laptop and start a blog. I just felt the urge to type, it was purely instinctive — I’ve always loved writing, and since, at 30, I didn’t know anyone else my age with cancer, I thought that I could use the platform as an opportunity to inspire others who might one day find themselves in a similar situation.

Plus, I figured that a much healthier day later, I could look back and the stories would serve as a powerful reminder to be grateful.

Now, more than five years later (“a much healthier day later”), looking back, I am able to recognize how valuable blogging and the use of social media have been throughout my fight against cancer. First, I found writing about my cancer experience served as a healthy outlet and proved to be extremely cathartic; your health being attacked is a very traumatic concept, and writing has helped move negative thoughts and anxieties out of my system, giving me a chance to purge the venom.

I have also found that over time writing about the different challenges and situations I have faced has helped me solve problems by exporting all the information from my brain to the page where I can see it more clearly. – more organized, less emotional. It also put things into perspective and allowed me to take different approaches and note progress along the way.

But then there’s the social element, and that’s crucial. I didn’t think of it that way at the time – I was just speaking my truth and taking it one day at a time – but my blog and social media have basically been my PR team. At first, as I was sharing updates and fixing issues, I was shocked at how many people were following my journey. It provided a nurturing sense of connection, encouragement and support. Acquaintances would pop up out of nowhere and bring me helpful tips and stories, or just heartfelt messages checking in and wishing me luck, which gave me a little boost every time.

I think it helped me to keep my updates real, but upbeat. Being honest about difficulties is fine, but the constant whining becomes tiring for readers. I always looked at it as if I was an explorer visiting another planet (the world of cancer control) and reporting back to my homeland.

While some people prefer to keep their battle private, I’ve been an open book. One of the most interesting aspects is that others seem to feed off of this vulnerability and then open up about their lives, revealing stories and truths that they would otherwise rarely expose.

Another huge benefit of sharing your journey is that people become more invested in you. When your story is constantly in the eyes of your community, it stays on top of people’s minds. It helped me a lot when my family organized a GoFundMe.

I believe more friends, family (then friends of friends and family) donated as they not only sympathized with my condition but also felt more connected to what I was going through as I and as I accompanied them in the process. My network was incredibly generous and everyone’s support truly exemplified the best side of humanity. The funds I received from my loved ones provided a financial cushion that my wife and I relied heavily on in the face of endless medical expenses.

Although there are so many different things to focus on during your battle with cancer – nutrition, stress management, positive attitude and thinking, being around loved ones… the list s go on and on, and I firmly believe that writing and sharing my experiences has played a huge role in helping me cope and persevere along the way. At the time, I didn’t expect all of these benefits to follow, but I’m really glad it worked out that way.

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