Maybe. It depends on who you ask.
If you ask those who blog about their cancer, chances are you're going to get responses asserting the therapeutic value of blogging. Today, for example, four regular cancer bloggers are holding a so-called "Cancer Bloggers Reunion" at Cancer Lifeline in Seattle on the topic "Why We Blog". But that's only four people among the estimated 35,000 bloggers in the United States alone who blog regularly about their battles with cancer, the medical system, friends and family, sex and blogging itself.
Cherie Black, a reporter with the Seattle P-I, has an article online today - "Blogs help cancer patients cope with disease". In the article, she talks about those women who will be participating in the cancer bloggers reunion today. They blog for a variety of personal reasons; as a soapbox, to get help from others with rare forms of cancer, to encourage others newly diagnosed, to use humour for therapeutic benefit, and so on.
I think I appreciate why they do this.
My blog provides an opportunity for me to research and compile that research into easily digested short subjects. It allows me to communicate to a broad audience with a single message. It provides a catharsis. It simply publishes news of how treatment is progressing to family, friends, and colleagues. It offers a means of communication and social networking when other means are either too difficult, time-consuming, or draining.
I blog because I can.
Sometimes that means I'll slip into a zone of self-centeredness, something alluded to today in Leroy Siever's blog "It's Not All About Me". After all, cancer affects just about everyone you talk to these days. So, occasionally, those who blog will naturally get "blogged down" by their choice of coping. I say, "so be it."
Some people will choose silence, a grin-and-bear-it attitude. Some will choose support groups in their neighbourhoods. Some will choose a few close friends. Some will choose conventional media. Some will choose new media like blogs. The point is, different people will choose different avenues of coping and dealing with cancer.
The great thing about cancer blogs, though, is that they provide patients and care givers with options, not just about therapy, but emotional responses, about appropriate and inappropriate behavioural responses, about everything connected with the experience of cancer.
Cancer talk may not be the only way to cope. It may not even be the best. But it is one way that works for many of us.