I officially started this blog in February although it was conceived much earlier. A year ago I proposed to Tish that I buy a new computer. Partially because it was my birthday and partially because I was ready to launch a new project, one of many in my life with some succeeding and quite a few failing. It was also another period where I felt the need to redefine myself yet another time. There was a yearning. Yes, I did daycare for my two lovely granddaughters and that in itself was meaningful. And yet there was a yearning on my part for something more.
My life before cancer was quite active. At the hospital I was working to improve my knowledge and skills, becoming a better person and nurse. The interactions that I was having with patients and families were rich and full. Some of the most memorable moments of my life have been spent at the bedside. And if that were not enough (and it was), I had been given the rare opportunity to be involved in fighting cancer on an international level. I was teaching and conducting educational courses for cancer nurses in developing countries. I was a project chair for the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) in Geneva and also organized nursing courses for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Washington.
Then came leukemia and my life took its inevitable detour. Like many of you though, I wanted to turn this tragedy into something positive and I turned to the Internet. It started with emailed journal entries to keep friends and family apprised of my progress. Because of my professional associations around the globe that email list grew rapidly. I soon found that people were sharing my journal entries. College professors were assigning it a readings in a variety of courses. Like many of you I began to receive emails of encouragement and support from people I didn’t even know. People found something of value in my writing.
During my first remission I was at a reception at the annual meeting of my professional association, the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). Amid the food and comraderie was born the idea of publishing my journal online on the Society’s website. The story of cancer of a cancer nurse. At the time, in 2002, I was doubting that I would live to 2005. Published research supported these doubts. The longest-lived T-PLL patient survived 60 months. So the journal was to be my legacy.
But life always proceeds according to its own plans. I did indeed relapse after 26 months, but achieved a second remission and took the risk of consolidating that with a stem cell transplant. I went through a lot – multiple infections, the loss of vision in one eye, chronic fatigue, the loss of the sense of smell (I am an avid gardener) and of taste (I am an enthusiastic cook) – but most importantly I was still alive. I was allowed to witness the marriages of my children and the birth of grandchildren.
Returning to work remained a risky and distant proposition. I seemed destined to disability or, at least early retirement from the profession I loved. Left to my own devices, my naturally introverted self became less and less engaged with life and people. I was adrift in my own wilderness. And thus the necessity of redefining myself. I needed to get back into the world.
All of this is prologue to the post topic. Last August, my birthday approaching, I argued for buying a new computer, an iMac like my son’s with a 24″ screen to augment my diminished eyesight. I wanted to create one or more blogs. One for networking those transformed by cancer, and maybe one for networking healthcare workers in developing countries, a repository of stories and best practices. I argued that with a large enough readership I might be able to carry appropriate advertising which would eventually pay for the computer and for the cost of maintaining a website – domain name, software, hosting server.
Last week I logged 10,000 visits to the site from its inception. This week we are already approaching 11,000. So now the question arises should I monetize a blog dedicated to building and strengthening a community of cancer victims? Should I solicit advertising? Most blogs on the blogroll are “pure” in this respect, seeking only to share and support. But 10-15% do include advertisements. Most of the time these ads are cancer related. Most of the time these cancer ads are unquestionably legitimate. Most of the time these ads do not detract from the aesthetics of the site design and presentation.
But I am interested in your, in the readers’ reaction to this. What is you opinion about ads on cancer blogs? I intend to exercise control over the type of ads. They must be cancer- or blog-related. No snake oil or fish oil miracle remedies. No blog redesign resembling a billboard. No flashing banners to distract from the serious or not-so-serious content.
The other thing is this. I must confess to something personal. Aside from the obvious rewards of being in a helping profession was something more practical. I earned a living. I worked, was rewarded, and contributed towards family goals and the family’s future. When a new appliance was needed or tuition was due, I worked overtime. The long hours, the double sifts were hard but I could see what I was working for. I have not worked in five years. I get disability checks. They are smaller than “real” paychecks but that’s not such a big deal. They are abstract. They are not related to anything I “do” now (though, again abstractly, I relate them to a lifetime of labor). There is little satisfaction in abstraction
Nobody ever made a fortune, or even a living probably, writing a cancer blog. But I would like to be able to say that my work on the blog is valuable enough to pay for my monthly server fees, to eventually pay for my computer and office equipment. I would like to be able to feel productive again in the financial sense, to be actively contributing to the family treasury. And if the blog started to come a positive rather than a negative to our cash flow, I might not feel guilty about spending even more time adding and improving features. But income or not, I plan to continue Being Cancer. Hopefully there is a need, hopefully it can make a difference. Take care, Dennis