Author Joanne Harris said that people are “very scared” about telling others they have cancer, but she thought it was “natural” to speak publicly about their experiences.
The Chocolat writer told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that while she was being treated for breast cancer she “shared so much online” and felt “so connected to the world” because of social media.
Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
She said she originally decided that posting on social media about her illness would mean she wouldn’t have to speak to tell many people one by one how her recovery was progressing.
Harris added, “But they realized that when I got feedback from people, I actually noticed that there were a lot of people who were also having the same experience and who felt empowered by coming out and talking .” about that. People are very scared to say, ‘I’ve been diagnosed with cancer’. “
She added that it “wasn’t a completely negative experience for me” because it was detected early thanks to a routine mammogram.
“I’ve been telling people on social media, ‘Don’t let your mammogram go, it could save your life.’ It could have saved mine.
“If you can make something good out of it, why shouldn’t you?”
Harris added that taking her treatment lightly on social media helped her manage her recovery.
“I think it’s one of the coping mechanisms of the human mind to make fun of something terrifying,” she said. “And I also started writing various tweets bringing out the funny side of some of the things that were happening.
“I decided to give my cancer a name, I called it Mr C, I created a hashtag #GoodbyeMrC and I would basically tell jokes about losing my hair, losing my eyebrows, losing my eyelashes and looking like a potato . All of the things that people thought might be important, but given what is happening to you, you feel like they aren’t that important.
“You get the feeling that the situation is pretty amusing.”
Harris’ episode of Desert Island Discs will air today (Sunday) at 11 a.m. on BBC Radio 4.
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