I consider myself very lucky to be living in the time of the Internet and social-media. Having had my life turned upside by cancer, I really don’t know how things would have played out without it. Given my physical weaknesses since treatment it has been impossible for me to work regularly. As much as the money is important of course, my contact with people was crucial! My first purpose was to find out if anyone else thought that support in the cancer sector was so poor. Once I established that it wasn’t only me, we had to do something about it!
When this all happened, blogging and social-media wasn’t so common as it is now. My work was novel at the time, which gained it a decent following. Now almost everyone I speak with has a website and shares their work online. As my work became more popular, my following on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook grew. More people were reading and sharing and now I am one of the most influential cancer patients in the country.
I would like to thank Liz @thesaltiestcow for sharing her own reasons why she wanted to join Twitter. We all want/need different things from our experience. You may well have seen some of her tweets, as she is now a very vociferous member of the online cancer community! It is a relatively safe place where people share openly, advice and experience with each other. If you are unfortunate enough to encounter cancer in your life, these people will provide support and encouragement willingly!
“Two years ago I set up an anonymous twitter account to help me start reaching out to fellow cancer survivors, I was unsure of myself ,but starting to realise that my twenty odd years of life since my teenage cancer diagnosis, had a significant impact on me. I don’t know what I expected from it but I certainly didn’t expect the outpouring of support that came my way. The unconditional acceptance of my position, and the huge psychological difference it would make to me.
Social media can get bad press at times, but in these recent strange times it’s come into its element. We might all be staying at home but we’ve got the world at our fingertips and the community of cancer twitter has had this nailed for a long time. It’s commonplace to be in isolation through treatment, and we’ve all been there in some shape or form. No matter what time of day or night, someone out there will understand exactly what you’re talking about, and that can mean the world.
For me personally, I took to Twitter to get answers and to find out if there was anyone else out there like me. I was nearing 30 years since my diagnosis of bone cancer, and starting to experience late effects of the treatment. I had tried for years to deny the existence of my teenage cancer, yet was being bombarded with physical issues I could no longer ignore. It’s very easy to pretend something doesn’t exist when you don’t know anyone else with the same issues. That had been my go to thinking for years. However within weeks of joining Twitter and starting to be open about my issues, I found I was no longer alone. Suddenly I was introduced to people who were in the same boat and more importantly, people who understood.
Cancer twitter has given me the opportunity to share my story and connect with not only fellow survivors, but oncologists, radiographers, palliative care Dr’s, charities and many more. Its shown me there’s a need to be open about late effects, as so many people are unaware of how treatment can cause issues years later. Actually, as my former employed life disappeared into the distance, its given me a purpose!
As Corona has turned everyone’s lives upside down and removed normality, our online community stays as strong as ever, welcoming the new into the fold and carrying on as we always have, we’ve been doing this a while and know the drill. So thank you social media, for showing me I wasn’t on my own and now, as myself and so many others are shielding in our houses, coming into your own and giving us that lifeline of community we so desperately need.“
Thank you for providing yet more reasons why we should use our favourite social-media platforms. If you would like to read more from Liz you can find her blog here. My website remains an open house during this crisis. If you have anything you would like to share, please feel free to leave me a message below! Stay home and stay safe, Chris