Reading Cancer Blogs as a Cancer Patient

I read a lot of cancer blogs. It’s kind of a sick habit of mine – to go through a story from beginning to end. It’s somewhat riveting, right? You probably agree since you’re reading mine. The ups and downs of treatment. For a long time I haven’t really been sure why I do this, because cancer certainly should not be treated like a source of entertainment, but as I lay here reading the story of a young boy who recently died of relapsed ALL I realized it. I’m reading them because I want to know that they died of something I don’t have.

When they die of graft vs. host disease or relapse it’s terrifying. That could be me. When it’s graft failure or infection or secondary cancer – well, those could be me too but it feels safer, more removed from my specific case. It makes me feel better.

The reason we need to fund childhood cancer research is so that treatment is not so traumatic that survivors find comfort in pain and so that death isn’t so common that a long life feels utterly unattainable.

Please consider donating. It means the world to me. https://form.jotform.com/62506878291162

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About Brooke Vittimberga

I have cancer...oops
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5 Responses to Reading Cancer Blogs as a Cancer Patient

  1. Samantha says:

    I do this too! I read all through stories I see on Facebook, and when I come to one with my diagnosis I freeze. I try to tell myself all the reasons that won’t be me…but the truth is it could be and that is terrifying. There was a quote by one of the doctors at Sloan Kettering during the series they did with Humans of NY that talked about how we turn people into “others” and that is exactly it. When I was first diagnosed I really struggled with this and someone told me to just remember that everyone has their own story and that they will be different. Sometimes, especially right before scans, I really do have to not read anything. It is a tough balance…acknowledging what is out there but trying to pretend to be unaware as well. I hope your days continue to improve just a little each day!

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    • I LOVED that MSK Humans of NY series. It was beautiful. I completely agree with the point about “othering.” I have often felt othered throughout this experience – people want to hear that my family has a history of cancer or that I had some other risk factor. Anything that makes me different. The truth is, there was no indication that I would ever get cancer, it doesn’t run in my family at all. It just happens sometimes.

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      • Samantha says:

        Same! I transferred schools and one of the girls I met (after I told her I had cancer…which is a whole other thing…) asked me if I was born with it and I said no and then she asked if it could happen to her too! I was kinda shocked honestly…I think if we could stop “othering” the world would be an better place all around!

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  2. Isabel says:

    Hi Brooke! Just stumbled upon your blog and I wanted to say thanks for sharing your experience. I was recently diagnosed with AML, and this gives me a good idea of what may lie ahead for me. If you don’t mind me asking, how have you dealt with the fear of relapse?

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    • Hi Isabel! So sorry that you’re joining the club. Honestly, I spent the first 6 months post-transplant so sick that I couldn’t even think about relapse. I found that the present was so difficult that I didn’t even have time to worry about the future. Also, my hospital provided me with an awesome therapist as soon as I was diagnosed, which has been really important in helping me through this experience. I would definitely ask your team for a referral if they haven’t already given you one. Also, I’d recommend reaching out to palliative care. Palliative care is not just for dying people and they are there to make every aspect of your treatment (physical and emotional) more comfortable.

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