Lung Cancer and Search Engines

Last updated: May 2022

If you are newly diagnosed with lung cancer, I cannot stress this enough - stay off Google or any other search engine. I say this to protect your mental health at a sensitive time. When we receive a lung cancer diagnosis (i.e., bad news), we are vulnerable. It is not guaranteed that you will have the same outcome as the people, stories, and statistics that you find on google.

Jumping to the worst case scenario

I am telling you this from experience. When I was diagnosed it was a Friday. I was told to go home and pretend that I didn’t just get life-altering news. I fared well over the weekend without looking up too much information but then I went to work on Monday. I started searching and I came across Facebook posts, groups, and other information on non-small cell lung cancer.

I came across a young lady, somewhere in her 30s, who had just that day or the day before passed away. She was practically the same age as me! I was devastated. My husband (boyfriend at the time) had picked me up from work for lunch and I bawled my eyes out with all the information that I had obtained. Now it is important to note that I later found out that she did not pass from lung cancer, but it was posted by a lung cancer page, and she was indeed a survivor. When you are newly diagnosed and searching the interwebs we miss some of the important things.

Everyone's lung cancer is unique

I have learned over time that a lung cancer diagnosis is as unique as the person being diagnosed. You can have ten people in a room that have all been diagnosed with “lung cancer” and each one has a different subtype, gene mutation, stage, and so on. There are many variations to lung cancer and so one person’s diagnosis and prognosis are completely different than yours. I have seen this firsthand and have dealt with the unfortunate side effect that is called survivor’s guilt. There are many factors that vary from person to person. One lung cancer survivor's path is going to be different than another. Our treatment paths are as unique as the individual getting treated and not to mention there are so many different oncologists with different ways to deal with the disease.

There is a time and place for Google

There will be times that Google will be your friend but, in the beginning, it is better for your mental health to stay off. There will be things that you will need to process before you can start googling things about lung cancer. Eventually, you will want to learn more about the disease, you will want to advocate for more funding and search for ways to do so, and you will also want to find support. All of these are great reasons to go to Google. Statistics are said to be outdated most of the time but can be beneficial to understanding the severity of the disease and to help advocate for better funding by showing where we have been.

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