It was no laughing matter when cartoonist Miriam Engelberg was diagnosed with cancer. But being who she is, she kept her chin up and began using cartoons and blogging to document her experience with cancer.
In August 2006 Miriam's blog noted that she would begin a home hospice program. Entering hospice care isn't "giving up" -- it is a decision to take an active approach to ensuring the best possible quality of life for as long as life remains. In Miriam's case, this may help her continue communicating with the rest of us for as long as she can.
Miriam's life-affirming approach is realistic about her survival chances. If not much time is left, best to use it well! That insight really could benefit all of us, not just those who hear the clock ticking.
Her comic-book memoir came out prior to her decision to begin hospice care. It is titled Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person: A Memoir In Comics.
Our prayers are with Miriam on the next part of her journey.
Miriam isn't the first person to write a journal about living with serious illness. What's noteworthy is that the rest of us get to read over her shoulder via the Internet. The net being what it is, more and more people are sharing their reality in real time. For some folks that includes sharing their experience with life-limiting illness and even hospice care.
Serious illness often results in people pulling back from social contact. As energy dwindles, there may only be enough left to handle contact with the closest friends and direct care providers. What's more, "coming out" to others as having serious illness can be a difficult social experience.
Will blogging make it easier to share the reality of end of life care with anyone who cares to learn? I think it will. Since I believe that the Internet is changing everything anyway, why should that not apply to the last phase of life? These new media offer us new options for how to present ourselves to the world and share who we really are.
At its best, as with Miriam's blog, blogging can be an incredibly authentic and immediate form of social exchange. At its worse, it surpasses even the supermarket tabloids for lack of taste, editorial control, and factual basis. See real photos of Elvis entering hospice! Alien Hospice Abductions! (sigh)
Guess we will have to tune in to the next episode to find out who is the next one off the island.