An interesting column by Bill Saporito in last week’s edition of Time magazine addressed the growing phenomenon of blogging about cancer. Former New York Times editor Bill Keller and Emma Keller of the U.K.’s Guardian both wrote columns questioning the necessity and taste of patients blogging about their cancer and their treatments. Both columns made valid points but set off a debate about over sharing and fighting cancer with dignity.
When I was receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I felt no need to share what I was going through with the public. Although I wish I would have had a Facebook account at the time so I would have been able to update family and friends on my treatments without having to make multiple phone calls. How primitive.
Since the publication of The Year My Dad Went Bald, I have found myself in the position of sharing my experiences with people I’ve never met before on a regular basis. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I sat down to write and illustrate the book it gave me a unique perspective to happened to me and how I would never look at life the same again. Initially, I wanted nothing to do with any sort of self-help encounters or discussions groups. Since my recovery, I have found myself speaking and participating in these encounters that I was so desperate to avoid. What changed?
I never wanted to be the “cancer guy” but like it or not I have become a voice, especially for fathers, for those who are going through this ordeal. I can only hope that my story and recovery has given comfort and hope.
I have been fortunate that companies like Genentech and the Ohio State University to be given me the opportunity to share my experiences with researchers, and future doctors. Everybody handles adversity in different ways; The Year My Dad Went Bald has changed the course of my life and made me a different person. Hopefully better.
Robert Kessler who writes for Gawker has started to blog about his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a well-known writer he is in a unique position to share his story with a large audience. I wish him well and look forward to his posts.
If people like the Kellers can’t handle it or find it distasteful there plenty of other websites to distract you from the realities of what some people are going through.