Personal ‘chronicling’ helps depression

I notice on a weekly medical news newsletter that there has been a study about ‘Personal website chronicling improves depressive symptoms in women with breast cancer’ What is most interesting to me is the effect that it had o

The effects were particularly strong for women in active medical treatment, most of whom had advanced (metastatic) disease. Women are more often motivated to tell their stories, express cancer-related emotions, garner support, and keep others informed during active medical treatment and the often unpredictable course of metastatic disease than those who have completed their medical treatments for cancer.”

What is most interesting to me was the effect that it has on those with Metastatic Breast Cancer. As one of the neglected sections of the breast cancer community, along with those with Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Male Breast Cancer, it can be a difficult and lonely process of living with, and being able to find support for the path that we are on. Support groups are heavily biased to Early Stage Breast Cancer and they can be very unsupportive to those with MBC. One person once wrote on a forum how she had gone along to a support group and when she said that she had MBC no one would talk to her … she didn’t go back. Someone I knew was only allowed to go to the support group on the basis that she and another Metster didn’t mention that they were Stage IV. She ended up giving support to those with Stage 0 or Stage 1 who may never have a recurrence when she was dealing with metastatic disease, and finally the brain mets that killed her on her daughter’s birthday.

So where do we find a way of dealing with a Stage IV diagnosis without immediate support from others who are in the same position? How do we express ourselves and say what we need to say, not only about our feelings, fears and anxieties, but also maybe share some of the ways that we have learned to live and even thrive with an incurable cancer diagnosis? Well, welcome to one way of dealing with this, having a blog, but the trail was to do with web sites that the selected participants were given to see if this could help them. It seems that it really did help. Sometimes just writing things down can really help you to get things in order, especially when you are depressed and your mind in racing and shooting all over the place. Also doing it on a computer enables you to get it into order more easily without rewriting it a dozen or so times. In my experience sometimes just writing it out can help you to see how to deal with the problem. Another value of doing it on a computer is that you can save it where it can’t be found easily by others, and then in a day or two, or a week, you can come back to it and edit it and see things more clearly. I have a more personal blog and it is interesting to read the confusion and anger of the early posts. I, in some ways, regret that I left it for a long time and didn’t keep a record of the transformation that took place in my approach to dealing with, and accepting, my diagnosis. I still get angry, but it doesn’t last as long and I know it is futile to dwell on things that you cannot change. That was then and this is now.

If you are interested it might be worth thinking about doing this for yourself, although if you are reading this then the chances are you are already a blogger. Getting your head around MBC is also a matter of understanding your journey and deciding on the path you wish to follow. That path does not have to be the only one you take and you may find that taking a diversion is what is appropriate for you, or even resetting your Sat Nav altogether. The path is more of a winding country lane that a motorway. It takes you over styles and through muddy patches, but also through fields of green with beautiful wildflowers, and to views that can make you feel as though you could stay there forever and take in the wonder and beauty of life. The best thing is that you can take those images with you to help you when the clouds gather and it starts to rain.



  1. So agree with you. Thanks.

  2. This is my own first time my spouse and i visit here. I discovered so many entertaining stuff with your blog, particularly its conversation. From the a great deal of comments on your own posts, I assume I am not alone having all of the enjoyment right here! Keep up the superb work.

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Health Communications and Health Advocacy

With deep understanding, health communicators can engage and inspire change, whether in individuals or in society as a whole.


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