Tweeting about cancer

This year, increasingly, the Foundation has shared our news and connected to a new community of friends and supporters on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.

“Staying at the forefront of change and capitalising on innovation are underlying elements of ACRF’s culture,” says Suzie Graham, Exec. Manager of Philanthropy.

“We all feel we owe it to our brilliant researchers to be across the most effective techniques that will maximise funds for our annual grants program. And we’d love you to join us.”

Cancer patients are also taking to social media, to help deal with the tribulations of battling their devastating disease.

They’re documenting their ongoing treatments and the daily battles they face in an often light-hearted and amusing way to help cope, and forming online relationships with others in the same situation.

Advertising executive Rachael Lonergan is one of those on twitter to help her deal with her continuous cancer treatments.

On her unique and totally honest Twitter page Rachael has been presenting a series of amusing commentaries as she fronts up to beat the disease. Examples of her wry observations:

Ever had bad sunburn on parts of your body better left clothed? Me neither but I think I know what it feels like now!

Ah I miss swimming. Waiting for end of radiotherapy!

8 months today since I first knew something wasn’t right. 2.5 surgeries, 6 x chemo’s, 23 radiotherapies (7 left) later. No wonder I’m tired!

Sense of community

Rachael recently acknowledged she found comfort in the messages from fellow ‘tweeps’ who also write of their cancer battles.

She told the ACRF, “Twitter helps break the culture of silence around the disease. It helps to know that you’re not Robinson Crusoe when it comes to this illness. No one gets what its like to have cancer like other people who have it.”

“Twittering about cancer helps to make it all a bit more normal. Too many people avoid talking about the topic. Cancer is now part of my everyday life.”

“My own cancer is just ridiculous as it came on the end of a string of bad luck.

“I have just recently finished a course of radio-therapy, chemo therapy and surgery. I get very tired.

“Twittering connects people. It feels good to know I am not alone.’’

Another ‘tweep’ beset with cancer goes by the name of ‘Textureofthesin’ who told the ACRF she lives two hours south of Sydney.

She said it was after reading ‘tweets’ posted online by the ACRF and its followers, she had decided to post comments about her own ongoing treatments.

“I realised how vital the work of cancer researchers is first hand after reading your tweets and then looking you up online,’’ she said.

“Meeting and contacting other sufferers through twitter makes you realise you are not alone. The ACRF team has also sent me messages of support that I really appreciate. It is a little online community that has developed around cancer and I find it very supportive.’’

“I have built up relations with other people going through similar cancer treatments. I understand what they are going through.’’

A skilled photographer, @textureofthesin recently organised a calendar featuring her work to raise funds for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and also supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

On her own website, she writes, ” ‘Texture of the Sin’ is my Nome de plume for my form of artistic expression. I have long held an interest in photography but fought with an equally long held view that I had no artistic ability, which started with a comment from a teacher at school.

“However when a period of illness steered me away from my usual more active pursuits I found myself with time on my hands and a need to fill it, and so I came back to photography.’’

“With no formal training and very little experience, in mid 2008 I took up nude photography using myself for a model. This was partly motivated by my desire to challenge my own perceptions about beauty and being over 40 but also to confront my scars (both physical and emotional) from surgery for breast cancer.

“This has now become more of a desire to experiment with the human body as art and explore shapes, shadows, light and texture in different ways. And tell stories. For me this is part of my life’s journey, learning to express the love and honor I have for myself as part of the divine.”

Textureofthesin’s calendar is available online at www.Redbubble.com and sells for $25.

You can follow @textureofthesin and @RachaelLonergan on twitter and of course ACRF @Cancer_Research.