Tweeting Cancer

I find this fascinating.

There is a public "war" going on and it's about whether or not someone should openly and publically (via Twitter) discuss what it is like to fight Stage 4 cancer. This is a very delicate topic!

Is this about freedom of speech? Or is it more about how one person, uncomfortable with a woman telling her stark and tragic story about her battle with breast cancer, publically voices his opinion how it is inappropriate for her to write about it and talk about her fight with Stage 4 cancer in a very candid and public way (via Twitter and a personal blog).

This actually may be more about having a very difficult conversation in public view about a topic that makes some people wince, cower and hide.

Lisa Adams lives with Stage 4 breast cancer and openly discusses her trials and tribulations on her blog at and through Twitter @AdamsLisa.

Bill Keller wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times where he clearly does not appreciate Lisa's candor about her battle with cancer, as he compares her to his father-in-law who quietly died from cancer after his personal decision not to wage an all out war against cancer as Lisa chooses to.

So why the war? When it comes right down to it, isn't every individual entitled to tackle, wage war, and discuss their cancer as they deem necessary? What happened to freedom of speech? After all, no two lives are alike, and therefore no two end-of-lives are the same.

The interesting part about this debate, is that it has hit the headline news. 

Kathleen Reardon wrote an article for the Huffington post titled "If You Don't Like Tweeting About Cancer, Don't Read It".  Her message is clear enough in the article's title alone.  And her message seems quite sensible.

How many of you know someone who has battled or is currently diagnosed with cancer?

How many of you have had a loved one die from cancer?

You are all nodding your heads, affirming that cancer has entered into your life somehow, somewhere, and at some point.  Whether you are a cancer warrier and now living with cancer, or whether you remember holding the hand of your loved one, feeling helpless, and comforting them while at a loss for words to tell them how you wished it wasn't so.

I applaud those that choose to speak openly about their cancer, and I applaud those that choose privacy instead.  Who knows what you might do if you were in their shoes.

For those that like to talk about such topics, there are TED talks about Cancer on There are currently 19 talks on the site-all of them about cancer. share insights on how to talk to someone who has cancer.   The American Cancer Society website at is also filled with tips to talk to others about cancer.

The etiquette of conversing with someone who has cancer includes:

  • Being respectful
  • Being honest
  • Showing support
  • Listening
  • Don't deny reality
  • Being careful with your words

Sounds like good advise for everyone tackling difficult topics of conversation-whether you have cancer or not!

Share with me what you think about this "war" in the news.