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Should You Blog?

I am pleased to be part of a new free online course being developed and offered by Rebecca Hogue called, Should I blog? The course begins in March, but will be offered on an ongoing basis, re-starting every two months. My role is to be a blog mentor. I love this role and it’s one I am very happy to take on. By now you all know how I feel about the power of shared stories. There’s nothing quite like it. One of my ‘assignments’ as a mentor is to write a few posts answering some questions about blogging.

The first question is why did I start blogging?

Well…When I first decided to write a blog, I had no idea how to go about it, what exactly I would write about, who (if anyone) would read what I wrote, how long I would keep at it, how many blogs I would end up reading myself, what issues would come to matter most to me, or how important blogging would become in my life.

Yes, you could say I was pretty clueless.

On top of my cluelessness, I was in the middle of chemotherapy and losing my hair. I was no longer working and was depending on my family to take care of things more than I ever had before. My mother had recently died, of metastatic breast cancer no less. In short, I was not in a good place and had no idea how “to do” cancer. (I still don’t). I had no idea how to blog either.

But yet, there I was ready and willing to start sharing on the internet of all places about my terrifying, extremely personal and utterly life-changing experience of breast cancer. And I am a very private person I might add. An introvert even. So go figure.

Writing was how I coped with both grief and cancer.

So really, it made perfect sense that blogging was the next step for me. Blogging gave me a safe place “to do something” with my grief and my cancer. Nancy’s Point became a place to try to make sense out of the hurt and chaos that both life-changing experiences brought and still bring. And I wanted to help others who were struggling and trying to figure this stuff out too.

It didn’t take long for me to discover a few surprises:  I quickly learned that this blogging community (fellow bloggers and readers too) was a welcoming and non-judgmental (though opinionated) group. I soon found myself gravitating to my laptop every morning to find out if anyone had left a comment on a post I had written and to leave a few of my own on posts others wrote. Over time, I became friends with people I would likely never meet in person. The biggest surprise of all, was how much I found myself caring about “strangers” out there in the blogosphere. Even more surprising, they cared about me.

Perhaps this was the most unexpected discovery of all about blogging, the genuine sharing and caring.

As corny as it might sound, cancer blogging really is mostly about the collective sharing of stories, information and support. It’s lovely knowing others are out there 24/7. It’s wonderful knowing you are not alone. It’s comforting knowing that more than likely somebody else is, or has experienced something similar to what you are going through and it’s a good feeling to know someone else gets it, or is at least willing to listen in a non-judgmental kind of way. Knowing others out there care; you just can’t beat that.

Still, writing a blog takes a fair amount of thought, time and energy. It’s work too.

So now over four years later, why do I keep at it?

I keep at it in order to remember my mother and my friend Rachel. I keep at it to honor others who have died from this wretched disease, some whom I have known and many more I have not. I keep at it because in some small way I want to be here for my friends presently living with metastatic disease. I don’t want to leave them behind because I am NED. I won’t. I keep at for the “newbies’ entering into this maze that is cancer, always hopeful that when they read the ramblings from someone who’s been there it might help just a bit. I keep at because I want to talk about cancer, grief and loss and my blog is a safe place for me (and for you) to do that. I keep at it because at this point in time, I need to keep at it.

Every cancer blogger speaks from a different vantage point. We are a diverse yet similar bunch. Everyone’s cancer resume is a little bit different. There is much to learn from one another and there is tremendous support ready for the taking. All you have to do is reach out for it.

So if you, or someone you know, is contemplating starting to write a blog, go for it. Tell her/him to go for it. Sign up for the free online course to learn more about how to get started. I say, why not give blogging a try?

Because everyone’s story matters, including yours.

Do you want to start writing a blog?

If so, what’s holding you back?

Do you have a blog? If so, feel free to share your link via a comment below.

Sign up for news from Nancy’s Point here.

 

to blog or not to blog

 

 

 

27 thoughts to “Should You Blog?”

  1. I did a blog during my treatment, pretty much to keep my friends and family informed of what I was going through. I found that it was easier to write it in one place for everyone to access, and that way, I didn’t have to repeat myself 100 times. Also, I didn’t want to put my thoughts out there on Facebook because I was sharing some pretty gross stuff. My favorite entry was, “I’m a Pooper, not a Puker”.

    Anyhow, I didn’t keep it up because it seemed that I wasn’t good at expanding my audience. I could use tips in that arena.

    1. Kim, It’s great that you have some blogging experience then. I imagine there will be tips on expanding one’s audience. I will try to address that in a future post as well. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you sign up for the course.

      1. Nancy, like Kim looking forward to tips on audience building from you. Having an “audience” encourages more writing, which I don’t do enough of, plus I find myself less self focused, which can become unproductive and stop me from writing. Audience allows a person to outward–something I need to learn to be better at.

        1. Scott, I agree, we all like it better when someone’s reading our words and having readers does encourage more writing. Although, how many readers you have it is not what’s most important. You never know when you are reaching that one person and making a difference for her/him. I will share some tips that I have found helpful sometime soon. Thanks for the additional comments.

  2. Hi Nancy!

    So glad to see you mentoring newbie bloggers! You have done an incredible job with your blog. You’ve really given it great legs, and it helps so many people. You are very relatable, my friend.

    On April 1st I will be blogging 4 years. I think I found your blog in the latter part of 2011. As I’ve mentioned, blogging saved my sanity. I started blogging 7 weeks after my mastectomies. I felt compelled to write out ALL the details of what I was going through.

    It took me a year (maybe more) to “catch up” in real time to events and emotions as they were currently happening to me. Eventually my blogging world and my real world collided. I put a lot of pressure on myself to blog frequently in the beginning; I think I was afraid I would forget all the details. I look back on my early blog posts and barely remember writing them! But am SO glad I wrote it all down. Really helps me mentally. It’s like 20/20 vision: I can’t make sense of what’s happening to me until I can reflect on my own words, if that makes any sense.

    Blogging is my therapy.

    1. Renn, Yes, I’m excited about it. I loved talking and mentoring at the LBBC annual fall conference last September. I truly believe everyone’s story matters, but of course, not everyone wishes to share it via a blog. But for those who do, it’s one good way to process through everything. I’m like you, it’s hard for me to make sense of what’s happening until I reflect and write and reflect some more. Your words make perfect sense. Blogging is my therapy too. Thank you for the kind words. And keep blogging!

  3. Others’ blogs, particularly those with stage IV Her 2 neu positive disease, have been the source of valuable information for me as I live with my own stage IV diagnosis. I started blogging to share my condition with family and friends and to help others in the same way I have been helped. It wasn’t so clear to me then as it is now, but I also blog because I was afraid I would die and no one would know I had lived. I blog at http://www.stageivnowwhat.blogspot.com Writing is therapeutic. Everyone should try it.

    1. Lisa, Other blogs are most definitely a great source for valuable information as well as support. Writing is therapeutic for sure, no matter how you choose to do it or who you choose to share, or not share with. Thank you for commenting and for sharing your blog link.

  4. Am seriously considering it, I find that when I write out my thoughts it becomes theraputhic for me. It seems to take those scrambled thoughts and organize them and make a bit of sense of them. The nugget challenge of course is being vulnerable to,others.

    1. Tammy, Fantastic! I hope you do give blogging a try. Making sense out of scrambled thoughts, I like how you put that. The challenge you mention is real. Blogging is making yourself vulnerable. Any kind of writing is. I always remember advice I received from a fellow blogger no less. She said, “Nancy, never be afraid to write what’s in your heart.” Wise words. But, of course, everyone has different privacy boundaries and you can share as much or as little as you choose. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  5. Fabulous blog Nancy and great intro to the course. With your permission I’d like to offer it to the Psycho-Social department in the main clinic in Edmonton as how people who just can’t access their services can begin healing themselves. The administrator of health care to rural people in Alberta completely wastes the talent and care WE as members of society should be getting and it isn’t going to get better soon.
    Blogging creates a network of care that eases the poor service we get and challenges the false notion that “things are working just fine.” They aren’t.
    To me, fighting the illusions of my care-givers has been exhausting and distructive of who I am. My earlier experiences with medical mistakes have been extreme (death)and the pain takes my voice away or are received as “irrational complaints”–their words. So, I’m going to offer something they can use: the truth as spoken in blogs that can’t be ignored or crushed by assumptions of “care” that doesn’t work. Some doctors will reject this alternative–too bad for them, their generation is passing.

    1. Scott, I’m glad you liked the post. Feel free to share it if credit is given. I don’t blog because I’m not satisfied with my doctors’ care or because I feel I get poor care service. I blog as an outlet for me. As I said in the post, my blog is a place ‘to do’ something with my experience. Sure, I’ve had a few gripes, but overall, I’ve been fortunate to receive quality care. I’m sorry you have experienced major frustrations. Some doctors are supportive of blogs/bloggers; I personally know some via #BCSM. I do agree that blogs are great places to hear patient truths. Some doctors embrace this and take advantage by reading blogs when they have time and some would never consider it. Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts.

  6. To blog or not to blog? I asked myself that question for months, and I was also intimidated by the technology and my lack of expertise. I am so grateful I took a leap of faith into the blogosphere in March of 2012. It has made all the difference. My blog is called “Habitual Gratitude” and can be found at http://habitualgratitude.blogspot.com
    At first I worried too much about expanding my readers and was anybody noticing or commenting. It was a good lesson in humility for me to be shown the other ways this blog was going to teach and reach. I am one of the people my blog regularly teaches and reaches. I am a better writer, a more mindful student of gratefulness, a calmer version of my previous writing self. Now that I have my regular writing outlet, I honor the writer within.
    I slowly have reached a wider audience and have some regular readers. But I continue to be guided by the faith that helped me get started. It tells me “Just keep doing what you are doing Lisa.”

    I thank you for your blog and the wonderful wisdom and genuineness in it. I thank you for your support of my blog. Writing is indeed healing and therapeutic and a positive action in our lives. Write on!

    1. Lisa, Your comment says so much about the value of writing for oneself too. It’s not all about who or how many are reading. If you worry too much about that, it’s too easy to lose focus of the words you want to write. Thank you for sharing your blog link. I marvel at how you post every day. Thank you for the kind words about my blog too. Your opinion means a lot. And yes, write on!

  7. I started blogging (about dogs) in 2008, and I do think it was easier to get started then because there were fewer blogs, and social media hand’t taken off quite like it has now. So it seemed like there was less clutter. However, I have a friend who started a “newlywed” and lifestyle blog about a year ago and she has done great.

    While some people aren’t trying to build an audience, I think most bloggers would ideally like a lot of readers. The key is to connect with other bloggers, comment on their stuff, share their content and of course to write great content. Another tip is to write about real problems, questions or topics people would actually be searching for in Google. That’s how I get most of my traffic.

    1. Lindsay, As you know, your blog inspired me to jump into the blogosphere. You’ve been at it a while now! It’s a learning process for sure. Thank you for the great tips. And thanks for all the ongoing support.

  8. Nancy, what a great post about blogging! I loved reading about how you got started. And I’m so glad you’ll be part of that mentorship program with me. I know you will be an awesome mentor and a great role model for other to-be and newbie bloggers.

    I was pretty clueless when I started blogging; in fact, I wince when I look at my earliest posts. But writing is an evolution, and I write for many of the same reasons you do: to process grief, share my story, to process all the pain that I experience because it’s cathartic to let it out. Being part of the blogosphere has been a wonderful experience.

    I don’t even remember how you and I found each other or how I found any of the blogs out there. I’m just glad I did.

    By the way, I’ve been working on a post next week about this blogging course. Great minds think alike, eh?

    1. Beth, I think most bloggers are pretty clueless when starting out. Blogging is a growth process for sure, in fact, any form of writing is. I don’t remember how our paths crossed either exactly. I think you commented on a post and I followed the trail. Yes, the blogging mentoring will be fun. I’m happy to be part of it. Looking forward to your post; great minds thinking alike for sure!

  9. Nancy, I am so glad you blog. You add such a great voice, and very helpful information for people in all stages/phases of treatment. My blog is http://www.darngoodlemonade.com – I have blogged since the day I was diagnosed. It is very therapeutic, and it is a helpful way to update friends and family when repeating yourself gets tiresome. 🙂 I have made many great connections through blogging. My blog friends have offered support, advice and have held my hand through some of the hardest times (and laughed and celebrated with me through the best of times).

    1. Mandi, Aww, thank you, Mandi. And it’s impressive that you started blogging on the day you were diagnosed. Gosh, my mind was a complete fuddle then. I am glad you blog too. These connections we’ve made and continue to make are priceless.

  10. Nancy,

    I’ve been trying to blog about my experiences as a young cancer patient for the last two years, and just recently (Jan 2015), decided to publish my blog: thesmallc.com.

    What was holding me back? I think I wasn’t ready to “globally” acknowledge I had cancer. I had kept my diagnosis private at first, but then decided I didn’t care who knew. The second reason was the name of my blog: the small c. This is the name I always wanted and I found it difficult to publish because I was worried I would be misunderstood by other patients. But then I realized that everyone copes with their cancer the best way they can, right? This is my way. And the last reason was that I thought people would not relate to me, or care about what I had to share. Now I realize that I am not only blogging for others, but for myself – it is my therapy. But I am also hungry to find others who have a similar situation to mine, others who can relate to me. Sometimes it can get a bit lonely when others just “don’t get it.”

    Rebecca

    1. Rebecca, love the idea that “others just don’t get it.” It does get tiring trying to explain over and over–especially to medical people who are so “qualified” they no longer need to listen:-) But also to people who are concerned, don’t know how or what to ask, or are shy about hurting you.
      Maybe there should be a week on loneliness? So many things cause it. No feedback at a person’s blog has got to be #1. My favorite: “we’re only here to help you, how dare you be bitchy!” That always silences me.
      “thesmallc” sounds great to me. Nancy has mentioned overstatement in cancer language in the uses of military terms. Is that what you’re after in bringing cancer back to being a word and not a Hollywood event?
      Scott

      1. Scott, you’re spot on! I think cancer gets a lot of the wrong attention. (I hate the military terms!!) My concept with “the small c” partially comes from that idea you pointed out. It was also inspired by this quote, “cancer is a word, not a sentence.” I am aware some people die from cancer but I really appreciate how it relates to my current situation. I really didn’t want cancer to be the main focus in my life, although a few of my current life decisions will probably be influenced by this diagnosis, but so are other situations in my life.

        I agree with you that most people don’t get it, not even professionals who deal with us patients every single day. Only those who walk our paths will have an understanding of what we go through. A statement that applies to life in general.

        The support that comes from another cancer patient doesn’t compare to any other. Although I hate so many of us face this challenge, I am grateful we have one another to lean on.

        Rebecca

        1. Rebecca, good point about even professionals not getting our experience. Some of it might be their separation instinct to keep them from going crazy treating so many of us. And some of it is training in steering the discussion out of the emotional.
          In some ways I don’t care if they understand my history any more. All I get is lectures that seek to make my experiences rational and fit a check-off box. If I want comfort or good advice I seek out people here or in the waiting room. If I want “treatment” I go to the clinic staff and doctors with the expectations of someone using a vending machine–I actually have a better relationship with the parking permit dispenser at the clinic exit:-)
          Sadly, I’ve learned that misunderstandings cannot be corrected with doctors. Things said come back and back and back and explanations only make it worse.
          That said, I know systems and there are cracks to pry at just outside the medical armadillo.

    2. Rebecca, I’m glad you decided to go public with your blog. Blogging is so very theraputic. I’m sure you will find those connections that you are looking for and you’re absolutely right that everyone copes with cancer in their own way. Good luck with everything and thank you for sharing.

  11. This is such an important post, Nancy. Blogging has become a lifeline to me, even though I don’t post very often. It is cathartic in so many ways. People who have stage IV cancer can relate to the many challenges I face, and I am no longer afraid to share my frustrations. You and other bloggers in this community give me the courage to express myself honestly and openly. I am thrilled that you are a mentor for this course, as you have so much knowledge to share with others. Your reflective questions at the end of each post challenge us to think, and to let the creative juices flow. xxx

    1. Jan, I agree about that lifeline. I’m glad you and I met through blogging and I always look forward to your posts. I’m also glad you are no longer afraid to share your frustrations. Thank you so much for the kind words and for always being so supportive. Mostly, thank you for being a special online friend. I’ll read your new post soon. I’m so behind. xx

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