Cancer 7

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“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
– Fred Rogers

When I found out I had rectal cancer, I hit the internet hard and immediately found the ColonTown community of communities. It has turned out to be simultaneously the most reassuring and the most anxiety producing place on the internet for me.

On the reassuring side, even though colorectal cancer is third most prevalent cancer world-wide, it is not widely talked about, so the community was reassuring: there are other people out there going through this; many are already through it.

There are also a lot of aspects of the rectal cancer treatment process that the medical system seems ill-equiped to support. I was sent home from major surgery with very little guidance in hand about expected recovery progression, or diet. Fortunately the community was a great resource for this information.

On the anxiety producing side, let me start with this meme.

Survivorship bias

The population of a community like ColonTown is necessarily going to bias towards people who are currently in treatment and the population of people currently in treatment will bias toward folks whose treatment is not necessarily getting them cured.

Survivorship bias in this case manifests in the survivors slowly draining out of the community, leaving behind mostly folks still actively in treatment.

There are a lot of people in Stage IV, keeping fucking going, who have harrowing tales. And there are people who were Stage II (like me) who against the odds progressed to Stage IV. It happens. And the thought that I could follow that path too, is frankly terrifying.

Anyways, as a result, reading posts from this wonderful supportive online community can sometimes throw me into a spiral of anxiety, because oh my god I have this terrible deadly thing. Which I do. But also probably I am going to be fine.


Talk to you again soon, inshalla.