In the blog I wrote yesterday, I mentioned my breast cancer scare. One thing that has helped me so much since the discovery of the lump in my left breast and all the ensuing appointments, procedures, and tests along with the painful wait to hear results, is reading about other women’s journey with cancer on social media.
For well over six months I have followed one woman while she had a mastectomy, went through radiation and chemotherapy, and recently went through reconstructive surgery. She is currently looking into places to get a tattoo placed over her scars. Every day during her ordeal she has posted about the details of what she is going through (“chemo brain” and other things). She also posts a daily gratitude list. Her list had included things as simple as soft t-shirts and foods that she could taste even when the chemotherapy was destroying her ability to enjoy eating most everything.
I follow another woman named, Kathy, and she started her ordeal with an abnormal mammogram back in June. I followed her through ultrasounds, a biopsy, positive test results (positive for cancer, not positive in a good way), a lumpectomy, and radiation treatments. She writes an essay every day that she titles, “The Moment of Goodness Despite the News,” or something very close to that. She is currently struggling with the whirlwind of appointments, treatments, procedures, etc. she just finished. She thought when she had finished the radiation treatments her life would go back to exactly how it was before, but that isn’t how it is going for her.
I can’t tell you how much these two women have, and are continuing to, help me. By sharing their experiences on social media, I discovered what most of the treatment options would be for me if any of my tests came back positive for cancer. I found out that if the cancer was detected early enough, a lumpectomy was an option instead of a mastectomy. I learned that some women took a pill for ten years instead of radiation or chemotherapy. I discovered that some women had radiation while others, had both radiation and chemotherapy. And all of this knowledge, all of this sharing of life experience comforted and educated me. It took some of the fear away. One of the reasons so much of the fear left me was because I felt I grew to know these women and if they could get through the trauma, stress, and difficulty of breast cancer, it was possible for me to get through it as well.
There are so many negative things we can say about social media. There is so much to dislike about our technology-filled lives. But there are incredible benefits and comforts to be found there as well. What I am hoping for with all the time I have spent and will spend on this blog, is that it comforts at least a few people about mental illness in some way.
If I can say that I have made even one person’s life a little easier, it has all been worthwhile. Consider it my thank you to God and the Universe for giving me this one glorious, painful, beautiful, difficult, astonishing, life.
My best to each and every one of you.