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By Alanna Kennedy

Virtual Space

Internet journals offer support, strength and solace

By Alanna Kennedy


Faced with a cancer diagnosis, many patients and their caregivers turn to the internet for information on treatments, support, clinical trials and research. Others go online to blog.

A blog, or weblog, is an internet journal—a diary that's open to the world. "Writing can be beneficial," says Kathlyn Conway, a three-time cancer survivor and the author of the book Ordinary Life: A Memoir of Illness. "My experience is that writing gives you a way to organize what you are going through [and] make sense of chaotic thoughts."

Nani Satterlee, a 39-year-old breast cancer survivor, started a blog in November 2005 after doctors told her that her cancer had recurred. "The first time I was diagnosed, I was 30," says Satterlee.

"I went to two support groups, but the women there were much older. Their issues and concerns were much different from mine." As a result, Satterlee felt alone. She hopes that by communicating her experience online, she will be able to reach out to women in similar situations.

In this issue of CR, Satterlee shares excerpts from her blog:

Losing my hair was a truly traumatic experience ... When it all began my hair was down past my waist ... For most of my life I'd had really long hair (I think it's an island girl thing) But a few weeks before I had chemo I cut my hair, as the dr. suggested ... short!!!

It just barely touched my shoulders ... I'd been referred to a wonderful woman who worked at a costume store in Burbank (she isn't there anymore) who helped me find a wig that was long and the same color as my natural hair ... she walked me over to the salon next to the costume store and held my hand while they put it in a ponytail and cut it off...

She then walked me into a little dressing room with a mirror and a selection of wigs hanging on the wall ... And as she talked to me to calm me ... She pulled off her hair ...

My hair began to fall out exactly 7 days after my first chemo treatment, just as the oncology nurse said it would ... I remember walking into the bathroom to wash up and brushing my hair out of my face ...

It fell into the bathroom sink in chunks ... I stood there brushing my fingers through my hair ... Watching it fall out ... While I cried ... and cried ... and cried ... I ended up shaving the rest of it off later that day and donning my wig for the first time to go to Target ... The color match (cappuccino!) was perfect ... And it was long ... And it really did look natural ...

Read more of Satterlee's blog at: dragonflyzdream.livejournal.com  CR endbox

 

Editor's note: CR will feature additional blogs in future issues. If you would like to recommend a blog that you've found particularly helpful or inspiring, please send an e-mail to Kennedy@CRmagazine.org .