Life, Interrupted: Posting Your Cancer on Facebook

From the New York Times Well blog:

In the world of social media, we are our own self-portraitists. Our digital identity is doctored to show the best version of our lives. (Maybe a more apt name for Facebook would have been “Best Face” book.) It’s not a new observation to point out the disparities between our online identities and our real selves, but for me, as a cancer patient, that gap has never felt larger.

If you had visited my Facebook profile last June, you would have found pictures of a smiling 22-year-old girl with long, wavy hair. She’s exploring the streets of Paris with a chubby King Charles spaniel named Chopin; eating tiramisù with her boyfriend Seamus at a cafe in the Marais district; having sunset picnics along the Seine with friends after work. This was a happy, successful, carefree person. On Facebook, aren’t we all?

What most of my Facebook friends couldn’t have known was that this young woman no longer existed. In the “real world,” I was in the oncology unit of a New York City hospital, undergoing my first round of intensive chemotherapy. My hair was falling out in clumps, and it had been weeks since I had eaten solid food or taken a walk outside. Even my name had been changed, inadvertently — my hospital door tag read “S. Jaquad” — with a “q” where the “o” should be.

To read the complete post and comments, click here.


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