Happy Birthday Blood-Cancer.com
Last updated: May 2023
I heard that Blood-Cancer.com is celebrating its fifth birthday on May 3 and I definitely should mark that milestone on my calendar! Maybe I’ll even have ice cream.
Writing about my blood cancer
Although my relationship with the birthday honoree does not date back five years, it did start in late 2019 and here’s how:
Working as a full-time journalist and living with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for several years, I remember randomly thinking one day how nice it would be to combine those two parts of my life. Writing and blood cancer, woo-hoo.
To be honest, I was pretty bored writing about government meetings and other topics that were seemingly unimportant in the scheme of things as my condition progressed. But I had no idea how to proceed.
A chance encounter
I think it was in the summer of 2019, something popped up online somewhere (my chemo brain is foggy) that mentioned Health Union, the parent company of. Blood-Cancer.com and approximately 40 other health conditions.
I decided to go out on a limb and email my resume to a general information address along with a few lines about how I had a rare form of blood cancer and wondered if the site ever needed outside contributors.
To be honest, the fact that I had sent this email went completely out of my mind. Imagine my surprise, then, when a couple of months later, I received an email back from the (former) community manager asking if we could talk by phone.
We set up a phone call. She explained that the site had no openings for writers—they had all the contributors they needed—but if I wanted to submit the story of my diagnosis anyway, she would look it over and publish it. It would be an unpaid, one-time contribution.
I told her I would share my story as soon as I could find time to write it.
Bear in mind that back in 2019, I still was not talking much about CML with anyone, mostly because no one appeared to want to hear about it. I had watched many people disappear from my life and/or avoid me after my diagnosis.
Plus, I didn’t want to talk about my illness because no one really understood. It got upsetting and annoying either trying to “defend,” leukemia as a “real,” condition or having it fall on deaf ears.
But back to my story.
Telling my tale
I submitted a rather lengthy, rather sarcastic and witty (I thought) take on all the trouble I went through for more than a year trying to convince my former primary doctor that something was wrong with me.
I also wrote about my meeting/diagnosis and interesting early exchanges with my oncologist/hematologist, who is a CML specialist, at a large medical center and school.
Turns out he had a bit of a sarcastic streak to him too at the time. (We’ve both chilled out).
Not long after, the community manager, (thereafter known as my fairy godmother) called me and said she loved the article. Not only that, but the site would create a slot so that I could be a regular contributing writer to it. If I wanted, I could moderate as well, as often or as little, as fit my schedule.
I was so excited. I burst into tears. Generally, I don’t cry when I’m happy but I just couldn’t contain myself.
(Later, I called my friend to tell her what happened and she said of the community manager, “Susan, that’s your fairy godmother!”)
Anyway, that day, my fairy godmother and I talked for a while longer and I’m sure I burned her poor ears off relaying my experiences as a long-hauler blood cancer patient.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Finding kindred spirits
So, what has www.blood-cancer.com taught me? First and foremost, I am not alone in this battle. I thought because CML was so rare, no one else was experiencing the same things. Wrong.
The site put me in the path of other “CMLers,” and it turns out, some of my experiences are very similar to theirs. I’ve also found kindred spirits with people who have other types of blood cancers. We have so much in common!
In fact, it is downright scary how much alike we all are. At last, I found people who “get it!” I can’t emphasize enough how important that is.
Also, Blood-Cancer.com helped me find my “voice,” and use it. I haven’t shut up since. The fear of people not understanding or wanting to hear about CML used to make me hold everything in—thoughts, fears, experiences. But no more.
I care less about what outsiders think and care more about maybe touching or impacting even one other person with blood cancer every time I get behind my keyboard.
So, happy birthday and here is to many more!
How do you feel about your support system?