Online Catharsis
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By Alanna Kennedy

Online Catharsis

A survivor of a rare cancer uses the web to share information and support

By Alanna Kennedy


In October 2003, Kevin Kersey, now 47, was diagnosed with a rare gastrointestinal cancer known as mucinous adenocarcinoma of the cecum. This cancer is sometimes referred to as PMP, or pseudomyxoma peritonei. While Kersey was in the hospital for surgery, his wife, Ronita, started a blog to inform family and friends about his condition. Later, Kersey took over the site himself, using it to post updates and convey his emotions. “It was kind of cathartic to post how I was feeling,” says Kersey. “I figured I could write those thoughts down and it would help me and hopefully help others as well.”

In addition to maintaining his blog, Kersey works with the PMP Awareness Organization, a website dedicated to providing education and support for people living with PMP and their caregivers. He also helps to moderate an online support group called the PMP Belly Button Club. Many people with this cancer have their bellybuttons surgically removed. Explains Kersey, “Bellybuttons are scar tissue, and this type of cancer loves to hide in scar tissue.”

In this issue of CR, Kersey shares an excerpt from his blog. 


December 11, 2005, When Good Things Happen to Good People

A while ago, I wrote a post called “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I reflected on why cancer happened to me. I wondered why people who don’t deserve things like this have to go through it. I really didn’t have any answers. I don’t think anyone does. And if someone says they do have an answer, be wary. Be very wary.

But this time, I want to talk about something different. A couple of my favorite shows are “Extreme Makeover–Home Edition” and “Three Wishes.” OK, sometimes they might seem kinda sappy, but I’ll admit, I cry during almost every show. Why? Because I get to see “Good Things Happen to Good People.” People who have been through experiences that none of us should ever have to go through. And these people seem to have gone through these experiences with a strength that just doesn’t seem normal. But it is a strength I see every day in the support group I belong to. Don’t get me wrong, we also experience fear, depression, fear, pain, and, did I mention fear?

But a therapeutic part of having cancer is helping others get through what you have already been through. Being able to answer questions, alleviate people’s fears, point them in the right direction, and comfort those that have experienced loss, makes having to go through surgeries and chemo all seem worth it. I wouldn’t want to go through these things again, but since I have, I want to be able to help others.

Speaking of our support group, if you ever meet other people with PMP, please point them to our site. It was created to help those who need help. Our goal is to make sure good things happen to good people.

 

Read more of Kersey’s blog at www.kevsupdate.blogspot.com.

To recommend a blog for CR’s Cancerblog column, send an e-mail to Kennedy@CRmagazine.org