|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
Information and Resources from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Blogging Through It: Patients, families use blogs to cope with cancerNot long after 4-year-old Ari Mabry was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006, his mother Johanna started a Web page to update family and friends. It was a tool -- a way to keep phone cals to a minimum, a way to ask for help.
Since then, it has evolved into a daily journal about life as it is for the Mabry family. And life for the Mabrys is filled with challenges: Ari continues a three-and-a-half-year cancer treatment regimen. Baby sister Eliana was born in April with serious birth defects -- the effects of which are still unclear. And middle child Hunter struggles with what it means to be a sibling to a brother and sister with serious medical problems.
"It has really been a way for me to feel heard. Not necessarily understood, because not everyone can understand what we go through, but to be heard," Johanna Mabry said. "I'm not exaggerating when I'm saying this: The CarePage is like a lifeline for me."
Cancer patients and caregivers are increasingly using blogs -- short for Web logs -- as an emotional outlet and practical resource. Wondering if you should launch one? Here are eight reasons to consider it.
Blogging Through It: 8 Reasons to Blog
1. Inform Family and Friends.Talking to family and friends about what you're going through can be draining -- especially if you have to repeat your story over and over. That's why the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offers CarePages, a free Web service that allows you to post updates. The Web site features privacy controls so you can decide who you want to see your site. Rather than fielding phone calls, you or your caregiver can post to your CarePage, which automatically generates an e-mail to people you've approved to view the site. Posts can be made anytime -- even late at night, which can be nice for parents who don't want to talk about scary stuff in front of children. It also has its benefits for family and friends, said Jane Bailey, a CarePages user who has lung cancer.
"Everyone who has used it thinks it's awesome," Bailey said. "People want to know how you are, but they're afraid to bother you."
2. Writing: It's good for you.Researchers are just beginning to study the effects of blogging on cancer patients' wellbeing, but we know that writing about emotional experiences has its benefits. Early research has shown that some types of immune system function improve after writing. Participants in a study published in Psychological Science also reported long-term improvement in mood and well-being, despite initial pain related to writing about upsetting experiences.
Ed Chacon-Lontin, whose stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is in remission, said he's found writing to be an emotional release. He started a blog in July and also works with the Cancer Center's Creative Writing Program.
"Sometimes I'm on top of this stuff and sometimes it's on top of me," he said, referring to the anxiety and pressure cancer brings to his life. "And I also have a family and all that regular stuff. Writing helps me move through it. I write my way through y challenging places. It's a passion for me."
Continue Reading 8 Reasons to Blog
To learn more about the Cancer Center's Creative Writing Program, please call 734-615-5216.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
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