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A tale of two blogs

There are, as I’m sure you can imagine, lots and lots of people “out there” blogging about living with (and indeed dying from) cancer. When Chris was first diagnosed we spent a while surfing the net reading about other people’s experiences. Many of the blogs we came across were too depressing, or not updated regularly, or simply didn’t resonate with us, so we simply stopped following them regularly. There were two however, which particularly captured our imagination and first we, and latterly I, have been following them at least weekly.

Jeanne comes across as (I hope she’ll forgive me for saying!) a somewhat formidable American woman who has had an aggressive metastatic breast cancer for the last eleven years. In that time she’s been through virtually every treatment there is, and has strong views on being the one in control of her treatment, rather than being dictated to by the doctors. We liked her attitude, though I don’t think we needed any on-line encouragement to rigorously question Christopher’s medical team – after all it’s part of our scientific training…

Currently, Jeanne is taking part in a clinical trial for something called T-DM1, which sounds like a new “drug of last resort” when standard treatments have failed. It is working remarkably well, and she is now in clinical remission for the first time in many years. However, she can’t simply relax and enjoy being in remission, because somehow she has to raise enough money to fund the cost of being in the trial, as well as her current ongoing treatment. This is the USA after all, and she’s been too ill to work for many years now, so of course there’s no work’s medical insurance to pick up the bills. It makes me really appreciate the good old NHS – at least we never had to worry about paying for the best available treatment.

Joan is the other cancer blogger I read regularly. She is an Australian, who was diagnosed with advanced (metastatic) bowel cancel within a few days of Christopher’s own diagnosis in December 2009. They started blogging about their experiences at about the same time, and we’ve been reading each other’s blogs ever since. Joan has been enduring an aggressive regime of chemotherapy for the last year, and is always a cheerful online presence, despite the ghastly side-effects of the treatment. Unfortunately, the oncologists have recently concluded that there is nothing much more to be gained from further treatment, and she is currently very ill and in hospital. I really feel for her – and also for her husband Kevin. I have an inkling of what he must be going through at the moment and, believe me, stressful doesn’t begin to cover it.

It’s odd in a way. I’m never going to meet either of these women, and under other circumstances our paths would never have crossed. Yet I’ve been following their stories with keen interest for the past 14 months or so, and the positive attitude with which they face their illness inspired us both.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Jeanne Sather | 17 February 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Gillian–thanks for getting in touch, and for writing about me and my fund-raising efforts. I’m very grateful for any help your readers can give me.

    Also, I just put up your post about Chris, so you may have some new readers from the U.S.

    Your Valentine’s Day post … I can’t even say how it made me feel, except I realized that–as a single/divorced woman–I’ve avoided the holiday for years, and never made much of it when I was happily married. I didn’t need it then.