When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I didn't want to do much other than hide from the outside world and hole up with my family. Blogging about what I was going through helped me from a therapeutic standpoint. More importantly, it connected me with others who had gone through similar experiences.
I found myself gravitating toward those who knew what I was going through, having experienced it themselves -- either directly or through a loved one's experience. The tips and stories and feedback I received were invaluable. To be able to commiserate with someone who actually understood from first-hand experience where I was both physically and emotionally was comforting beyond measure.
Episode 7 of the CafeMom Studios mini-documentary webseries, It's Cancer, Baby, explores the relationships that help get us cancer warriors through treatment and beyond:
A lot of the fear I was experiencing had to do with the unknown. Heading into surgery and chemotherapy, I had no idea of what to expect and it was terrifying on some levels. Being able to ask questions and share stories with someone who had been through it got me through some dark times.
There was one girlfriend who had gone through breast cancer treatment a few years earlier to whom I would email questions, sometimes in the middle of the night. "Will I lose my fingernails?" I would ask. Or "Will I get moon face from the steroids?" She would calmly answer my questions and put me at ease.
I received comfort and insight from others I had never met, having connected through social media. Some of the most calming and soothing advice was received from virtual strangers (although they are hardly strangers now).
The "cancer community" is far-reaching, all-encompassing and as loving a group as I've ever encountered. This is a free and invaluable resource, available to anyone in need. It helped see me through my darkest days. And, with my lifetime membership, I intend to offer comfort, support, and information to anyone who might need it, for as long as I am able.
But this community isn't so different from any other ... in one way or another, we all seek out those who "get" us, don't we?
If you'd like to watch more of Joanna Montgomery's journey, subscribe to the CafeMom Studios YouTube Channel and you won't miss a thing.
Photo via Katie Walsh, Project Life Media