It’s time for this summer’s blogging challenge from Nancy at Nancy’s Point! I always enjoy participating in Nancy’s annual challenges. They’re a great opportunity to learn more about the bloggers in our community and usually discover some new bloggers too.
Here are this year’s challenge questions from Nancy along with my answers to each.
1. Who are you? Tell us your genre, how long you’ve been at it, who or what inspires you or whatever you want us to know.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 28 years ago, when I was only in my mid-thirties. I had no family history of breast cancer and felt totally blind-sided by the diagnosis. I wondered just how much we really knew about the disease and its causes.
Twelve years later, after a second diagnosis of early stage breast cancer, I got involved in breast cancer advocacy. One of the things I most love doing as an advocate is serving as a “peer reviewer”–representing the patient perspective on panels with scientists reviewing breast cancer research proposals for funding.
In 2012, I started this blog as a way to share information with others who are interested in learning about progress in cancer research as I am. I write not just about breast cancer, but about broader themes in cancer research too. I write about recent studies that seem to speak to issues that are important from a patient perspective. I try to make posts as readable but also as accurate as I can, and link to other helpful information on the topic.
2. What’s been your biggest blogging roadblock this year and did you come up with a way to get around it?
The focus on other health issues right now–namely, the pandemic, vaccines etc.–is still taking up a lot of bandwidth in health news coverage these days. While important cancer research work continues, reporting about it seems quite a bit less prominent than in normal times.
How to get around this? I think it just means having to dig a little harder. Despite other issues, cancer is not going away, and it’s important to keep a focus on research and issues important to patients and survivors.
3. What’s something you accomplished with your blog this year that you’re proud of?
Financial toxicity–the outrageously high cost of many cancer drugs and treatments–is a problem that just keeps growing. I’ve mentioned it frequently and written some posts about the problem but wanted to do something a little more comprehensive.
I decided to do a two-part series specifically about financial toxicity, which I published earlier this year. The first part addresses what financial toxicity is and how it affects us, and the second part covers some of the solutions that have been proposed as well as resources that can be helpful if you’re dealing with financial toxicity.
4. What are a couple of your best blogging tips?
I think one of the best tips is to decide on a schedule for posting and stick to it as much as you can. Right now, I’m posting generally once a month. Regular posting seems to go a long way towards keeping readers coming to your blog.
Another thing that I think is important is make posts as easy to read as possible. Most of us scan through things we read online pretty quickly. I try to break up articles with sub-headings, short paragraphs and lots of white space so they’re easier to digest.
5. How do you handle negative feedback or comments?
I try to respond thoughtfully to all comments I receive, whether positive or negative. I want to be as sure as I can that my readers receive accurate information about the topic I’m addressing in each post.
If a negative commenter is talking about something they feel I didn’t address, I’ll acknowledge that if I think it’s a valid point and will sometimes do a little more research so I can note any pertinent information I might find in my response.
6. Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written RECENTLY that you want more people to read.
One of the posts I’ve written in the last year that I’d like more people to read is my post on Making Choices About Our Medical Care, which includes a list of tools I draw from in making all kinds of medical decisions based on my experiences dealing with breast cancer.
So that’s it for my answers on this year’s challenge. I’ve enjoyed this as always and look forward to reading everyone else’s responses, which you can find along with Nancy’s responses to the questions here. Thank you, Nancy, for putting together another great blogging challenge!
Summer 2020 Blogging Challenge
Summer 2019 Blogging Challenge
Blogging Challenge: My Answers to 10 Random Questions About Cancer
Three Year Anniversary for After Twenty Years Cancer Research Blog
Blogging Challenge: 15 Random Facts About Me
My Breast Cancer Story
Photo by Lisa DeFerrari