Friday, February 10, 2006
An Unwanted Journey: Day 0078 - Blogging Cancer
“Word of mouth on steroids” is a phrase created by Yossi Vardi, the father of one of the creators of ICQ, to describe the Internet. In fact, it’s a chapter title in Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s recent book Naked Conversations where the referent is blogging itself.
Blogging is about conversation or story-telling. If there is anything more naked than conversations or stories about battling cancer, then I don’t know what it might be. My personal battle is, I hope, a story of triumph, a conversation with myself and those who care to offer their own thoughts and comments. But its impact depends on volunteering. I must volunteer to expose myself honestly and sometimes brutally in the face of a life-threatening illness. And the reader must volunteer to be engaged. Cancer itself is involuntary.
By blogging on this theme, I hope that others who are fighting cancer will find information and comfort in what I write. I hope they will be better prepared when they face similar treatment. Those who have heard a doctor say, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your tumour is malignant” will have plenty of motivation to read and learn. Their voluntary involvement with my story will seem very natural to them.
But what about those who are not directly affected by cancer? How can I get them to volunteer themselves to this word-of-mouth activity?
This is tricky business. I know from my own experience BC (before cancer) that I didn’t want to read stories about cancer. Maybe it was because I was too superficial and self-absorbed. Maybe it was simply because the threat seemed so remote.
Or, maybe it was because I was too fearful. Certainly, there were too many friends and relatives who died of cancer. My grandfather and my father-in-law both died of cancer and were of a generation that preferred not to hear the word at all. And so we protected them from the word. Our generation hears the word regularly. We are less reticent to use the word in conversation. But I have to wonder if we’ve made much progress in being less fearful.
It’s a catch-22 situation. Until and unless we are willing to engage our fear, we will be reluctant to talk about cancer directly, even if we use the word regularly. But unless we hear and tell the stories, we will never face our fear.
And so, I must ask readers who are not battling cancer to fight their fears, to ask questions, to expose themselves and their worries, to read as if they too had the same diagnosis, to pass the word along to others. A big request, I know. But if this is to be a true conversation, it will work best if it includes those who don’t have cancer.