The Importance of cancer support via social media

Since I was introduced to the world of social media, I could immediately see how powerful it might be. Certainly, like any new tool, you have to learn how to use it properly, to get the best from it. Which takes time. With trial and error you will find what it does well, and what it does, not so well.

Coming from a business background, and attempting to always keep things simple, I couldn’t see what wasn’t to like, by connecting like minded people, across the world. Once I found myself taken hostage by cancer, I applied similar rules here. If I can’t find physical help for what I need, let me look on the net!

I couldn’t find what I felt was required, so I thought I would try and create something. People often ask me why I spend so much time on a project that doesn’t pay. But I know, how much difference these blogs make to people affected by cancer. How much they can relate, and how they help to remove that terrible feeling of isolation. Some things are not about money!

Below, I have copied comments, as they were published on my previous post. They moved me so much, that I felt obliged to share them with you. Psychological and emotional support for people affected by cancer, is still desperately lacking, and in a lot of cases, the issues are barely acknowledged. People are carrying this burden constantly, along with their physical problems.

It’s not only patients that are gaining from our writing, but I know personally, when I speak to members of my own medical team, how shocked they are at some of the things, they read on my blog, that are happening to me. We are all still learning, but we need to accelerate things. Time is one thing that is not on our side!

“dear chris,

first some background of what I believe has given me a clue about feeling lost. both my husband and I had cancer at the same time – his was multiple myeloma, mine was ST IV meta BC, amazingly, we both achieved remission, also at the same time! we decided to mix the “new normal” and live “life-reinvented”, gloriously and to the fullest.

sadly, only 9 months into remission, hugh died –
very suddenly. I found him next to me in our bed with no respirations or pulse. after 3 days in cardiac ICU, he was removed from life support, and I was a widow.

two months later I was diagnosed with uterine cancer, ST 3 with mets to the cervix. I am starting tx this week.

it’s my belief that feeling lost is really grief. I know grieving for my husband is a separate (though certainly overlapping) process. but I have spent a great deal of time in retrospect, and now realize that what you spoke about reflects what hugh and I lived when we were in remission – a desire to live on our own terms and not on cancers’ term. now, as I navigate towards tx with a new cancer alone, I can reflect in a more realistic way on what both hugh and I might have suffered post treatment – and I know we did feel tremendous grief at the loss of so much. but you see, it was we two, still crazy in love , desperately wanting to celebrate life. there were times we hid our pain and fears and losses – our grief – to help one another be happy.

as I grieve profoundly for my beloved, I feel extremely grateful for all those nine months we had, as well as the time we had cancer together. it almost seems a meant-to-be-ness that we became so utterly entwined and in love with each other, and a same meant-to-be-ness that we were able to live so happily those 9 months – ignorance was truly bliss.

in retrospect, as I read your post, I ponder what all would have befallen us had we not been a couple with cancer, nor achieved a robust remission together, and not flung ourselves head long into a life of adventure and delight. my conclusion is that eventually grief would have had it’s way with us, I’ve wished many times to be able to bring clarity to so many mixed emotions, chris. sometimes my widow’s grief is the overwhelming force in my life – hugh has only been gone since may 5th. but as I near treatment for the next gauntlet of cancer to go through now I am more typical of the individual who will face it alone; and even if one has faithful and supportive spouses, family, friends, and whole posse of good doctors – there is still the loneliness, insecurities, fear, and feelings of helplessness.

the big question is how in this day and age, could the medical community dismiss the element of grief from our care. the bigger question looms with more urgency – when and how will the message be delivered, loud and clear, and be dealt with by clinicians who simply give no validation to their patients, leaving them bereft and feeling lost and grieving.

chris, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story in this post. for months I’ve had such niggling and confusing feelings about insecurity, fear, and at times, just wanting to walk away from all things cancer, thoughts that are so foreign and disturbing. being able to comment meant I had the task of trying to figure out the very bewildering and sad and overwhelming issues you brought to the forefront. and I am so grateful to have had your post to finally be able to have clarity.

I am so sorry for all that you have had to go through. you are amazing, and a wonderful resource for superb support and the education you give so generously to others. I hope with all my heart it will all come back to you a thousand-fold. keep writing – you do it so well, and your are helping legions of other’s whose hearts, minds, bodies and souls are hurting.

much love, and lots of warm hugs,”

Karen, TC

My heartfelt thanks and good wishes go out to Karen, and thank you for sharing.


    • Hi Catherine

      I am grateful to Karen for sharing her very private emotions. This blog is here for everyone to share, and learn from. It is exactly why I do the work I do. We all know that so many of us are facing this type of issue, and I want to help the healthcare world understand that there is so much more to cancer than the disease itself!

      I know that so many people have found this post useful. Thank you so much, as always Catherine, Chris

  1. dear Chris,

    thank you so much for re-posting my comment (book-length, I know!). I am deeply humbled and touched that something I wrote resonated with you. being able to comment to lend comfort, compassion, empathy, encouragement, validation, share parts of Hugh’s and my story that may ring familiar or provide new thoughts and ideas with coping, and learn from other’s stories is my way of paying it forward for all the remarkable love, support, kindness and being welcomed with open arms and warm hearts by the blogging community.

    I wish you and your family all the best, and I thank you with all my heart for your thoughtful and kind wishes to me. now if only I could squeak out just one cogent (and SHORT!) tweet…!

    much love and light, XXOO

    Karen, TC (The Commenter)

  2. Hi Karen

    I learned so much from your comments, and know that we can all learn from your experience. I feel very humbled that you were able to share your very moving experience. I can only but imagine, what courage that took to write so many things which are still raw.

    Your comments have certainly, woken a lot of people to the issues that we face. you have made them become very REAL in the way that you have written.

    Thank you for helping with my quest to raise awareness of the issues that people affected by cancer can face. I wish you well on your personal journey, and I look forward to welcoming you back to the blog soon, Chris xxxx

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