Cancer Communication Research Center

The Importance of Blogging


NPR had a story about a month ago on cancer patients who blog about their illness. In a previous post (August  14, 2012), I wrote about a young woman who was candidly blogging about her illness to the New York Times and giving a very real and personal account of her treatment, struggles, and emotions. While her very personal and public experiences with cancer were honest and at times humorous, the NPR story emphasized just how important blogging can be to some patients, and just how big the blogging community is (and growing) for those diagnosed with cancer.

Social media has increasingly become a constant presence in our lives. With sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, it is easy to keep a large number of people up-to-date on many aspects of our lives. However, when it comes to illness, these sites may not be the best place for a cancer patient to express their feelings in such a public forum. The article highlighted a number of websites that are geared toward patients with illnesses, not just cancer, that provide a safe space for patients to blog for themselves, for others, and even for their families, if they choose to share. These sites are bringing to light a topic that is generally avoided, but the information from the bloggers perspective can help their families understand how they are feeling, as well as their doctors. As one person interviewed in the story said, "They don't have to dodge the hard questions, because the patient is able to tell their story openly and frankly."

As healthcare becomes increasingly more patient-centered, it's important to give patients the resources they need to discuss their illness openly. A hospice medical director states the following in the story: "I think these blogs help physicians and nurses see their patients as [people]." While social media is helping those patients express themselves as they go through their illness, in turn, these blogs are helping others (the readers) evaluate their own lives.  The story ends with this quote from the same hospice medical director: "I think it helps us check up on our own mortality. Am I doing the things I want to do? Am I making a difference? These are positive questions that can get lost in the shuffle of the day."

Michelle Henton
Senior Research Assistant, CCRC

Written by CCRC at 12:28




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