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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

 

 

 

Jan Hasak

Saturday 28th of February 2015

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

Nancy

Monday 2nd of March 2015

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

Rebecca

Friday 20th of February 2015

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

Nancy

Sunday 22nd of February 2015

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.

Scott Johnson

Saturday 21st of February 2015

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

Mandi

Tuesday 17th of February 2015

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).

Nancy

Tuesday 17th of February 2015

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.

Beth L. Gainer

Sunday 15th of February 2015

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?

Nancy

Sunday 15th of February 2015

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!

Lindsay

Saturday 14th of February 2015

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.

Nancy

Saturday 14th of February 2015

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.

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