My Safe Space
I’ve written several articles lately on how special this community at SkinCancer.net is. I love how the community members support each other, and how it’s a safe place where we can go to ask questions, share what we’re going through, and encourage others. And do I ever need that right now.
Sharing my skin cancer story
Let me back up a bit. I was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 1995. For the past five years, I have been fairly public with my skin cancer journey, starting in 2016, when a Facebook post I made about one of my skin cancer surgeries and recovery somehow went viral. My story was then picked up by numerous media outlets worldwide. I continued to share my story, hoping that it would help others to not have to go through what I have been through.
Recently, I had a phone interview with a writer from Today.com, who was going to do an update on my skin cancer story. After they ran the article, Yahoo picked up the story.
Facing judgment about my skin cancer
Today I pulled up the Yahoo article online to read it again, as I had quickly skimmed it yesterday after someone sent it to me. And for whatever reason, I started reading the comments to the article. Some were supportive, some were kind, some were encouraging, but far too many reflected the attitudes that many of us receive from others about our skin cancer. Allow me to share a few:
“Stupid you. This is not news.”
“Don’t feel sorry for stupid.”
“Genius who had to look glamorous in her demented little brain.”
“This is 100% on you.”
“Death stops cancer.”
“It’s always fun to hear about people using tanning beds. It’s a nice form of natural selection.”
Judgment from behind a screen
Along with so many, many more. There were even more than a few racist comments about Caucasian people. Some of the comments I wouldn’t/couldn’t even repeat here. You get the idea. It’s so easy for someone to be a keyboard warrior when they’re not saying those comments directly to me. It’s so easy for people to make comments like those when they don’t understand what it’s like to have skin cancer.
My judgement-free space
And that is what I need to remember: they don’t know what it’s like to have skin cancer. Those who have never had skin cancer don’t understand. They don’t ‘get’ what it’s like. But this community does. Sharing my story publicly isn’t always an easy thing to do. It requires thick skin, that’s for sure. Experiences like these make me all the more appreciative of our community. After reading those comments, I couldn’t wait to check back in on SkinCancer.net. It’s a whole different world here, one that is free from the judgment of others, the accusatory comments about why we got skin cancer, and comments on our appearances. Thank you for being my safe space.
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