Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why Am I Here?

I had a conversation with a coworker last week in which he expressed gratitude for this blog. He also said that he doesn't know if he could be "this open" if it were him.

That made me think about my motivations writing for the blog. They've always been implicit for me but it's interesting to write down.

One of the most practical reasons, as my friend Connie points out, is that is helps avoid me having to tell many people the same thing about my current status.

It's efficient.

Another reason is to inform future tongue or head and neck cancer patients. When I was originally diagnosed, Wonderful Wife immediately consulted the intertubes to find out what she (and I) was in for. She found several blogs by former patients that gave a fair bit of detail about their experiences. Even though it sounded rough, she appreciated being informed. It allowed her to set her own expectations and not be surprised by events. She was also heartened by the fact that the writers often were years out of treatment and doing well. So part of my motivation is to pay that forward.

Also, I'm a teacher at heart. I love to dive deeply into a topic and then teach it to others. In this case I didn't choose the topic but I could still follow that pattern. To be honest, a little bit of that is showing off. I grew up in a family where spouting knowledge was rewarded (at the dinner table, especially) so I can tend toward being a know-it-all. Hopefully I've learned enough tact that I'm not as annoying as when I was fifteen or twenty.

Many readers have given me positive feedback on my writing here. People have told me they have learned a lot along the way; that even though they have been close to other people with cancer they never understood the full experience until now. That's very gratifying to the teacher in me.

My work happens to involve helping scientists discover and develop new medicines, including cancer drugs. That coworker I mentioned in the first paragraph? He learned from this blog how primitive existing cancer treatments are and he feels even more motivated to help find better ones.

I have more than a touch of ADHD, and part of my particular makeup is a fascination with details. So another aspect of this blog is that I like to document every little thing that happened along the way.

The blog has also been a way of venting - verging on (or explicitly devolving into) whining. It helped to shout to the world, "This sucks!"

The reason that's most personal for me, though, is a desire to be honest. Back in July, in the post titled "A Crying Shame", I wrote about a long self-remodeling process through my 20's and 30's. One of the most important lessons I learned on that journey was the value of honesty. With myself first, but also with others. Prior to that time I felt a need to present myself in ways that weren't true. Once I ceased that I found life to be much easier and more enjoyable.

So a big part of why this blog exists is for me to share my experience as honestly as I can.

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