This weekend marked my 3rd cancerversary. I’m pretty excited that I am stable at 3 years with late stage ovarian cancer. Every year, I go back and read the blog I started when I was first diagnosed. As I was going through that exercise, it occurred to me, this might be a good topic to share with all of you… Talking about your cancer.
I started my own blog shortly after I was diagnosed, mostly because I had a lot of people to keep updated on my progress and that seemed the best way to do it. I soon realized it was an important therapeutic outlet for me. Those thoughts running through my head, keeping me awake all night, soon diminished because I got them out on paper. It also opened the doors of communication with my support network. EVERYONE needs some kind of support network. Some people prefer to be more private about their experiences. I’m an open book but I get that not everyone wants to share all the details with the whole world. Seriously I have a blog dedicated just to poop – that kind of openness isn’t for everyone.
Here’s what I’ve learned though – blogging or talking about my cancer makes other people more comfortable asking me how I feel or how things are going. The message I’ve sent to all of them is that I want to talk about it. I think, generally speaking, people are uncomfortable with cancer. They don’t know what to say. And unless they have someone close to them who has been through it recently, it’s likely their knowledge on cancer is wildly outdated. For example, I thought metastasized cancer was pretty much a death sentence, but that just isn’t true these days. I also thought chemotherapy would take me completely off the grid – also not true, at least not for me. When my support network reads the latest update in my blog, it helps direct their support and assistance. It allows them to feel more useful and plugged in. And it also keeps me from having to always talk about it in every social setting. I don’t need to update people because they already know.
So, find some way to talk about it – blog, or let your friends and family ALL THE WAY in, or even join some kind of support network through your doctor’s practice or hospital or community. It’s amazing to have people lifting you up on the days you can’t quite get there yourself. And it’s a really important part of survival.