Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Getting in Touch With Illness

Now I sometimes struggle trying to look after my two children and juggle my work developing MedWorm, but Minerva is a lady who has been struggling to look after her three daughters whilst battling cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy - kind of puts things into perspective.

After briefly tasting the surface of lots of patient blogs as I was 'feed fishing' for MedWorm, I decided that if I was to really be effective in my campaign for increased government funding of medical research, I needed to get a better understanding of illness and patient suffering. And never before has it been so easy to get a step by step insight into the daily life of someone suffering from any illness or condition of your choosing.

I stumbled on Minerva's blog, A Woman of Many Parts, by chance, via a MedWorm blog search - I think I had decided to read a blog about cancer, since statistically speaking that is what is most likely to touch my life in some way before I die, and someone with children, since my life revolves around my children. Minerva started her blog before she was diagnosed with cancer, which is a bonus, since you get to know the person before and after that changing moment. She writes beautifully, and has a real talent for poetry. After reading just a few of her entries, I was hooked, and am now working my way through her archives, from the beginning of her blog in 2005, up to the current day. Her blog reads as good as any best seller - shame in a way that I began originally with her current entries - kind of like jumping to the end of the book - except of course this book doesn't have an end, it is continuously evolving, as is Minerva.

The initial reaction from my husband was that by reading patient blogs I would end up with 'Medical Student Syndrome', developing the same symptoms of each person that I read about (and yes I have to admit I did have a quick check that night for lumps), and then after a few days, when the reading persisted, he was concerned that by reading a blog about cancer I would get depressed. But here's the surprise - it's actually having the opposite effect on me.

I'm the kind of person that can't bear to watch a film if I know it doesn't have a happy ending - and any scene which involves emotion between mothers and children usually has me reaching for the remote controller, or else trying to hide the tears - doesn't matter how pathetic it is, I'm a complete emotional moron. Previously when I had seen blogs about cancer, I had thought 'how sad' and skimmed over them for fear that they might 'rub off' on me.

To anyone not having lived with cancer, it really is a scary word. But reading Minerva's blog has is some way taken me past this superficial fear. Not that what Minerva is experiencing anything less horrible than I had imagined, but somehow getting in touch with her ups and downs gives one an understanding that surpasses fear. In addition, my own life seems richer, my children that much more delightful, my husband so much more understandable - I knew that life was precious, but it's one thing knowing it, it's another thing feeling it, all the time. Thanks Minerva for opening up your book of life for us to read - you are giving more than you realise.

Now anyone not yet subscribing to some patient blogs, I highly recommend that you do so - your life is guaranteed to be enriched.

Yes suffering does have its place, and for sure Minerva has become a stronger woman in every way as a result - but enough is enough - now it's surely got to be time for her to get better - I pray that medical knowledge is sufficient to give you the treatment you require and lay that cancer to rest once and for all, so you can get back to being that super mum and super English teacher that is obviously very much loved and admired.

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