My name is Andrea Fairbairn and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2011. This was my second breast cancer diagnosis and I found great therapy in writing about my first breast cancer in 2007. This time, I decided to keep a blog to keep my friends and family informed about my cancer journey.
I find verbally telling people about my diagnosis quite difficult, as well as retelling it many times. I get myself upset when people who care about me are upset and frankly, I need calm all around me. Also there are so many appointments, details and updates along the cancer journey; it gets emotionally tiring telling people about all the twists and turns. I thought writing down my experiences would be a good way for family and friends to catch up on my news as and when they choose to.
So I started my blog called AndreaBC2 in May 2011. I found it really easy to write and update the blog; it was simple, sort of fun and free.
I started to realise that this was very therapeutic for me – it feels good to get the thoughts and feelings out on the page. I also felt a bit creative and added photos and pretty colours. Also some friends and family, not so offay with cancer, seemed to be learning about cancer through the blog and the stigma seemed to be reducing a little around me. That was a benefit that I hadn’t thought of, that this blog would be educational for people around me.
So I think it’s a great idea to keep a cancer blog! Here are some benefits followed by my tips on setting up a cancer blog:
9 Benefits of Keeping a Cancer Blog:
- Communication. You can communicate with a number of people at once without the energy required to physically talk to those people. You are also keeping people up with the latest cancer events but only if they want to check your blog (so you are not over sharing information with uninterested parties).
- Support and inspiration. People also communicate back with you via the blog so that is an additional support mechanism; the more support and encouraging messages you get, the better.
- Learning about cancer. Caring friends or family with no experience of cancer can start to feel familiar with your story and learn about cancer in a safe, non threatening way. Also, your blog may end up helping someone else going through cancer.
- It’s safe and private. You can set your privacy settings so only some people can look at your blog or you can go public if you like.
- It’s therapeutic. It is writing therapy; go ahead and express your feelings as that’s an important part of your cancer journey.
- It’s fun and creative. In creative ventures, there is an element of the unknown and a bit of magic. You don’t know where this will take you – perhaps your memoir, a poem or start you on that unexplored creative pursuit that you always wanted to try. I have really got in to photography of late to have some nice photos to go with my writing.
- A positive ritual or anchor. It can be an anchor, a touchstone and something positive while going through a roller coaster cancer ride.
- A journal or record. It will be something you can look back on in the future as it is a physical creation, like a journal.
- Personal development. It’s always good to learn something new and start a new hobby during cancer treatment. It’s been personal development for me to learn about blogs and websites. It is a lot of fun.
7 Tips on Setting Up a Blog:
- Choose a free blogsite and set up your blog:
- Access. Change the settings to make it personal or public. You can control your setttings and safety by being as private or public as you like.
- Style. Play around with the theme, colours, fonts and title. Make it something that suits you.
- Just write something – maybe a test at first, a description of your latest appointment, thanks to people who’ve been supportive or a joke. Have fun with it and express yourself.
- Post photos as it really adds colour and vibrancy to the text.
- Write regularly and as freely as you can. You won’t be able to access how you felt about today…in two months’ time so it’s good to jot it down today. You may also start to feel more open about talking about things that felt too personal initially.
- Share your site. As you gain your confidence, promote the site a bit wider.
My blog had a life of its own and eventually turned into this website Breast Cancer Nirvana.
N.B. the Mayo clinic has an interesting article here on cancer blogging.
Good luck and let me know how you go. Do you have a blog to share? x Andrea