Once I had a basic idea of how to put together a web site from the class, I did on-line tutorials to learn more. I learned about web hosting and code and templates and tables and hyperlinks and frames and FTP. I became obsessed with putting together my web site, Appendix Cancer and Peritoneal Surface Malignancies. I was driven. I had to learn a lot to do it.
The toughest part was re-reading all of the medical literature I’d read initially when I was diagnosed. The horrible statistics, the grim predictions, the detailed surgical reports. Emotionally it took me back to the horrible feelings I had when I first learned what I was up against. I thought of those who suffer post traumatic stress after returning from war.
Interesting, many who have been through tough cancer battles are now being diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome. I recently read of a breast cancer survivor who decided one day to wear a scarf. Turned out the scarf she chose to match her outfit was one she had used to cover her baldness while on chemo. On seeing the scarf in her drawer, she became physically ill. In the end she disposed of all scarves she had worn during that time. This is an interesting article, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Cancer . I’ve since communicated with appendiceal cancer patients who have been diagnosed with PTSD. Constructing the web site was hard enough for me emotionally that I joined a support group for the first time.
I published my web site early in 2006, almost the anniversary of my 5 year survival. I had a contact email on my site, but didn’t know if I’d hear from anyone. It just made me feel I’d done the right thing by making the information I knew accessible on-line. I didn’t really plan a life of cancer advocacy after that, I just wanted to create and publish the web site.
But then doors opened, then my world expanded. I think I discoved my purpose.