4 Reasons To Document Your Experience With Cancer

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4 Reasons To Document Your Experience With Cancer

Social media and blogging is sometimes seen as a millennial vanity project. Young adults who tweet and post selfies are sometimes seen as self-obsessed and narcissistic, and celebrities who post photos of themselves and their daily goings on are seen as vapid and commercialized. If this is true, why is it then that so many cancer patients actually find relief in using social media and other forms of digital recording to document their ongoing struggle with the disease?

Go on YouTube and top in “cancer vlog” and you’ll find numerous bloggers recording and sharing their experiences with cancer online for the world to see. Cancer patients share their truths online with millions of followers — why can’t you?

If you’re of the mind that social media isn’t for you, consider these four reasons to document your experience with cancer online.

1. It’s a healthy release

Many cancer patients find that it’s hard to accurately communicate how they’re feeling with their family. It’s a struggle of a variety of emotions that shift and intensify based on many factors, like the cancer prognosis or the likelihood of mortality. Feelings of grief, anguish, guilt, acceptance, sadness, relief are all mixed up inside of many cancer patients, and it’s extremely difficult to express all of these feelings in a way that can be understood. In many cases, it’s hard to know exactly how a cancer patient is feeling unless you’ve been there yourself.

Cancer patients who take up writing down their thoughts and feelings find it’s a lot easier to organize their thoughts and feelings than just talking them out off the cuff. Recording private diaries in any kind of format can be a healthier way of getting out and assessing feelings than getting angry or frustrated with others or themselves. The more they document these feelings, the more a patient will begin to understand themselves — it’s a sort of cathartic release.

2. It’s a way to help others

Someone has just gotten diagnosed with cancer and they have no one in their family to ask for advice from. They may have tangential experience with cancer, but none of them have ever had it and they aren’t able to understand what the newly diagnosed patient is going through. Instead of looking for advice within their friends and family circle, the patient goes online to research their condition and how they feel.

They find many different blogs of cancer patients explaining how they feel, what their treatment process is like and how they’re coping with the diagnosis. This comforts the new patient because they don’t feel so alone anymore.

Cancer blogs are a way of sharing experiences in a way that can benefit someone else. Not everyone out there has an empathetic should to cry on, and being part of an understanding online community can help them keep hope and mental clarity during a trying time.

3. It helps keep people connected

Not everyone has the time to convey news directly. If a cancer patient lives with their spouse and children, right down the road from their parents, those are likely the people that will know almost immediately how the treatment is going and if any new developments arise. But what about family in another state? Friends that don’t keep in touch outside of occasional Facebook comments?

Blogging is a way to quickly share information with a network of people, including those a person may not be able to connect with outside of the Internet. Social media posts about cancer can be a quick way to share what’s going on with those who want to know — stranger or not.

4. It’s a memory tool

If you’re a cancer patient about to go through chemotherapy, you may not know that the treatment is notorious for causing lapses in memory. This symptom is even more prevalent in patients who are already susceptible to memory problems, like an alcoholic or the elderly.

Even if chemotherapy doesn’t reduce your short term memory, a cancer battle isn’t actually something you’ll want to forget. You may feel like it would be best to forget the anguish that can come from cancer, but after you’ve beaten the disease, it can be empowering to revisit those memories and see how much stronger you’ve become.

Cancer blogs can also be a valuable source of information for doctors and other medical professionals. If something happens to a cancer patient and they’re unresponsive, a family member may be able to look through the documented experiences and find an answer they need — like when the patient last went in for blood work, or how often they’ve been taking their prescribed medications.

In short, how and why you record your experience with cancer is up to you — if you record it at all. Just remember that there are many different and good reasons to keep a record of your experience with cancer, and perhaps trying it out wouldn’t be a bad idea.