I have been thinking about my blog over the last couple of weeks after being told that it appeared to be written to “engender sympathy”. I consequently went through everything thing I have posted over the last year and a half and double-checked it. So this blog is about an update on my blog!
I started my blog when I had long stretches at home recovering from operations and chemo treatment for breast cancer. At that time I also went into breast cancer forums and websites where people were going through the same sort of thing at different stages to me. Doing this gave me lots of information, a sense of some of the issues people have with cancer treatment not just symptomatically but also emotionally, financially, and other practical issues, and gained a certain level of comfort that my problems and feelings were very similar to others and that it was my attitude, how to stay positive and acceptance of having cancer that would make a difference despite knowing how ill I would get and did get.
I made a conscious decision to share my life while going through one of the hardest things I have ever faced and with that came an outflow of emotion. The blog enabled me to come to terms with my past, present and possible future and as most articles I had seen about blogging agreed that to do so was a very healthy and positive thing I carried on with it.
Now after a year and a half later, I have had over 3,770 views of my 58 blogs across the world including the UK ,US, Italy, Germany Latvia, Singapore, Israel, Russia , and many more (although not as many countries as my son with his You Tube Channel!) – And over 1,130 following on Twitter. It’s not a huge audience and I know there are other outlets I can use to make more accessible if I put some financial backing into it, but I have had enough messages, comments and contacts resulting from the blogs to satisfy me that I am doing a positive thing, and in some small way have helped other people – it is amazing that there is such a medium that can let you reach and connect to other people in your same situation in so many different countries with such diversity sharing, support, love and sometimes action.
I try also to take a subject near to my heart, study it relating it to my own life – hence “The Teenage Brain” and “Anger” trilogies. I have a teenager and have heard others moan and groan about theirs and became fascinated by the latest scientific discoveries that the teenage brain is different to a child’s and adults and thus how you can better parenting skills to adjust to this. Anger because I had a lot harbouring inside of me and knowing that it is unhealthy to keep it inside you without expressing it – and one of the best comments I received from this was from a friend in London who said thank you because it had helped her realise that she did have permission to be angry and it was how she handled and going to tackle it that mattered.
And then there are the others such as to the “nature of Love and “Where do you get your Hope from” (which included spirituality) – both of which is connected to recovery of cancer and everyday life.
Some are cancer specific blogs - “What to do and say (and not to say) if someone has cancer”. This was great one to do because it is one of the biggest discussions and comments made on the different forums I accessed and people can become very sensitive at this time with thoughtless remarks. My sister and I had one of the most moving conversations we have ever had with regard to this blog (that also brought us closer) although I have a bit of tougher hide and realise that most thoughtless comment are not meant to be as the cancer sufferer may hear them coming from love and concern and perhaps partly out of ignorance, and that most of the comments made were really quite funny.
Related to that blog was “Is there a Cancer Personality” and “Did I get Cancer because of Stress” which came out from a desire to look particularly in these areas from my past and put down a note of the studies that had been undertaken into layman terms. For this blog I liaised with a “Cancer Coach” in Scotland who was also a doctor, whose wife was suffering from cancer, extensively studying this side of Cancer and writing a paper on it. He gave me some very good feedback from the two blogs I did and also received interest from others studying this aspect after it was published. This also led for a request for a “Guest blog” on my blog on the importance of exercise.
The most popular blogs to date are:
“Keep the World laughing” which was about looking at the proven health benefits of laughter and the nature of what makes us laugh. This blog was to some extent a testament to my father and followed a poem I specially wrote for him for Father’s Day – I had great fun doing this one and learnt something when writing it as well.
“Don’t suffer in silence” was in a response to being asked to submit something on my experience of domestic abuse and sharing this with a support website in the hopes of raising awareness and encouraging others who are in abusive situations to take courage not to suffer in silence and seek help and support. In this I wrote my story and poem “Empty Shell”.
“Let the Sunshine in” is about the importance that the sun has to our health and attitude to life followed by “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” and these came about a) because I was enjoying the benefits of a new flat where the sun streamed through the windows while in recovery and remembering days on the beach as a child, riding my bike through country roads and how carefree and innocent life seemed then, and it’s a shame to lose that wonderment of childhood.
“I am thankful for” is looking at whatever is happening in your life there is so much to be thankful for – people, experiences and some things which seem small and inconsequential when part of a bigger picture gain importance and you realise that you are thankful for them.
Finally the blog on “Eradicating Bob is Scary” which was written after my first consultation I had before starting chemo has seemed to be one of the most helpful – perhaps it’s because it has a shopping list of things needed in it when commencing treatment!
However, the blogs I am most proud of our “Pictures of Life” which is a spiritual piece and funnily enough “Polly Wolly Doodle” – all about when my taste buds started disappearing and when soup became a staple of my diet although this blog has had only 7 views!
All my blogs have been deliberately full of hope and positively – I am generally that kind of person anyway but even I need some convincing now and again - to moving forward from recovery and starting to feel that I am living and having control back of my own life again from forced circumstances.
My blog has also led me in unexpected areas of opportunity to meeting many interesting people, writing poetry and performing, from being my own therapist and realising that I am a much stronger person than I first thought, and having the confidence to tackle most things and face problems as calmly and diplomatically as possible. I hope that next year I will attempt to write some short stories or maybe even put my blog into a book with all its quotes and poetry too. Out of a total of 58 blogs 8 of them may have been a little more specific than they should of have been–however every word said, every emotion expressed was true and have not been nasty or spiteful in any way.
You may gather from this that I have received some criticism and all I can say is that my blog has not been about gaining sympathy, or that it has been aimed at one person or one situation, it’s been about my own survival and yes perhaps a little self-indulgent at times and helping others .
I am not going to stop blogging. I have other subjects that I want to have a look at in depth such as kindness, compassion, addiction and further on the menopausal and chemo brain – Christmas and New Year is also coming up again and this is poignant time for many people - and of course the snapshots of my life (who knows what is around the corner) and poetry - it will just be a little less specific in some areas than it has been before.
As I wrote in my blog of May this year:- “When I was diagnosed with cancer and had so much time on my hands my blog also came a way to help me get through a tough and deliberating time. I opened up my the hopes, grief, anger and mixed up feelings in my life to my friends, family and others in the hopes that by sharing I wouldn’t just be helping myself come to terms with having cancer, but also may be help others on their own personal cancer journeys and that we all sometimes share common feelings, troubles and thoughts. I wanted my blog to be truthful, light-hearted in some ways, as positive as possible and informative where necessary and full of quotes that had meaning to me at the time of blogging and hopefully they would also resonate with those reading my blogs. I am proud of what I have achieved through my blog and where it has taken me on my journey and I will never allow others to tell me differently.”