In the land of Breast Cancer social media there is some talk of Joan Lunden’s 7 tips for those facing breast cancer – cause well, everyone wants to know what a celebrity thinks right?
I’m going to rant about her first tip, because I hear it time and again – whatever you do, don’t read the Internet. It is especially said to women when they are first diagnosed, in that fog state before pathology, when you are most confused about this deadly disease you’ve just been told you have. If you are in this fog, please take a look at Breastcancer.org and read a little bit about the disease you have been diagnosed with … lots of useful information there.
I think the advice to “not read the Internet” is perhaps some of the worst advice I have ever heard! I think everyone needs to learn how to search the internet critically. You need to learn how to do an effective search and how to dismiss information that is not relevant – that is, how to filter appropriately. You need to learn how to determine what type of site is useful, and what is not useful. What is credible and what is not credible. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips – you just need to know how to effectively use it. So rather than saying “don’t read the Internet” perhaps say “learn which sites are useful for your diagnosis”.
For many women, especially those who are not close to major centers, the Internet is what they have. The Internet gives them a place to meet others who share their journey – it allows them to not feel alone at a time when they need that support the most. It is also full of very useful information, that helps you better prepare for doctors appointments, scans, and treatments. Don’t deny women that resource by saying “stay off the Internet” … ugh.