Source: The Star, Fit for Life: A blog to bare your souls
Sunday January 22, 2006
A blog to bare your soul
MOST bloggers will tell you that their blogging journey began as an exercise in personal reflection, but has since evolved into a channel to inspire, motivate and increase awareness.
“When I began blogging, it was to chronicle my life. I did that because I thought it would be interesting to see my unfolding life and how much I have grown many years later,” says Peter Tan, a thirty-something tetraplegic who is living with renal failure. His blog is, appropriately, named The Digital Awakening (http://www.petertan.com/blog).
Tan is one of several bloggers in Malaysia who blog primarily about their medical condition and how they cope with it.
Although the more cynical may view these blogs as “daily rants”, it has become more than that for Yvonne Foong, a 19 year-old girl with neurofibromatosis who maintains a personal blog (www.yvonnefoong.com) and NF Malaysia, which is dedicated to neurofibromatosis (www.nfmalaysia.org).
“It’s now about sharing my opinions, encouraging and helping others, and spreading awareness (about neurofibromatosis),” says Foong, who co-authors NF Malaysia with a fellow neurofibromatosis sufferer, Keisha Somasundram.
Foo Hee Boon, who has metastasised, non-small cell lung cancer, sees his blog as a way to present a positive response to his ailment.
His blog, cheerfully named Hee Boon’s Amazing New Adventures (http://fhbadventure.blogspot.com), is a testament to his courage and resilience in living with a painful disease that seems riddled with complications.
However, he admits that “it’s not ? fun and laughter all the way, I do get frustrated and I do blog about these ‘down’ moments.” This, he says, gives him encouragement and renewed resolve.
Most bloggers sacrifice a fair amount of privacy when they write candidly about their lives. What more someone who chooses to share highly personal and, sometimes, painful details of their illness?
When posed this question, Foong says, “My illness is simply a part of life. I believe that NF has taught me many great life lessons at a very young age, so I wish to impart this knowledge to others too.”
Sharing information is certainly part of the reason why Tan is more than willing to bare his soul on his blog.
Tan promotes Independent Living for people with disabilities, and uses his blog to create awareness about disability issues and problems faces by people with physical disabilities.
“Many people still do not understand the life of a person with physical impairments. I am physically impaired but it is the environment and attitudes that disable and handicap me,” he explains.
Clean and accessible toilets for the disabled, as well as disabled-friendly transports and buildings, are among the issues that Tan champions tirelessly.
Blogs also function as virtual support groups, with people in similar situations (or not) rallying together for support.
“It’s not just the process of passive reading,” Foo notes. “Bloggers usually post their emails so contacts can be made. I benefited a lot when strangers, both cancer and non-cancer patients, contacted me and became friends.”
Besides providing comradeship, such contacts could pave the way to exchange of useful information about physicians and treatments.
Some may quake at the thought of sharing their pain with strangers. For others, it seems that sharing is healing.