Firstly I would like to apologise for any problems you may have faced with my website last week! We got hacked by somebody very malicious who wanted to break the site. Many people saw all sorts of strange websites including pornographic ones. Some now want me to continue with that, rather than go back onto the cancer track! Apologies to those people, but my site is back, with my observations of the cancer world as usual!! Chris’s Cancer Community will not be broken.
Since my own cancer diagnosis back in 2007, things have come a long way. Back then we thought giving booklets to patients was a breakthrough! I remember I was bombarded with literature, about my disease and treatment. After reading it I felt a lot worse, and wanted to talk to someone. We were still quite secretive about the word cancer, things were improving but nothing like it has become today. The biggest change we have seen is the Internet, which has been life-changing for our generation! It has opened up communication around the world and with our confidence increasing as we use it more, we are sharing things my own parents would be horrified about. Initially we found sharing our holiday pictures exciting, now you can see almost anything online!
When I first started blogging and using social media I went ‘softly softly,’ unsure of how an audience would perceive me. Having never written anything since I was at school, I didn’t even know who my audience would be. My passion came out in my writing but still I felt shy to tell too much detail. But I soon learned that what worked for me was the realistic style. Tell it as it is! My website was created to share information and, to understand if others felt the way I did. What a change we have seen since then! Far from being afraid of mentioning the word cancer you might now consider you see it too frequently! All of my media platforms are full of people sharing their feelings and experiences, if you are not careful it can be quite difficult to escape from. One common issue around social media and also life in general, is that we have fallen into the trap of comparing our lives with what we see online. Many people want to show us all the fab things that happen to them. The holidays, cars, food and clothes etc. It’s great to see of course, but this is not normal life. Let’s remember we rarely share our bad stuff for public consumption.
You must understand that we are all unique! We all enjoy different things at different times, thank goodness or the world would be a boring place! My particular concern now is in the world of cancer. I can feel an element of ‘competion’ growing because of social media. “My disease is worse than yours,” “I am having more treatment than you,” “My story has been published in a national newspaper,” “I have been on the television.” Having cancer has become ‘fashionable!’ The media are now starting to take note of what is happening in society and want to share compelling case studies to make an impact.This is a good thing but also adds to the issues I mention above. Many people are well known in the cancer community for the work they do in the media, and their followings etc are much higher than normal. I guess my own profile sits in that category somewhere. I am contacted daily by people asking how my blog is so well read, and my follower count is large. They want to share their own story and are finding it tough. But they forget that I have been doing this for eight years! The situation at that time was very different and impossible to compare.
It is exactly the same with cancer and it’s treatments. We all respond differently. Some quicker, some slower, some not at all. The same disease and treatment may have very different outcomes. Having cancer as we all know is life changing! For some, many positives come from it, but for others it can be an entirely negative experience. Dealing with the disease and it’s psycho-social issues can be difficult enough, without making unreal comparisons. This is not a competition, it’s about getting out the other side and trying to pick up your life as best you can.
When I was at school I was told that I was different, I didn’t like that, I wanted to be seen as the same! Ironically, I now work hard at being unique. My life is far from perfect, but because of cancer it is much more fulfilling. For anyone taking any positive opportunities that come their way, I am delighted, I try to do the same. But please don’t compare your own situation with that of someone else. We don’t all look good in pictures!
As usual these are my thoughts and opinions based on my experiences, please feel free to share yours below.
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.