The breast cancer survivor shares her wisdom, and tells how blogging has helped her and other women heal
In the fall of 2010, Hollye Jacobs, a nurse and social worker from Santa Barbara, CA, was diagnosed with breast cancer. While many would be paralyzed with fear, consumed with medical appointments or too busy dealing with insurance, the then 39-year-old found the time to start a blog, The Silver Pen. “It began as a way to communicate my diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer to friends and family,” says the now cancerfree Jacobs. “What started as a humble message platform has evolved into a must-read daily blog by thousands of women worldwide.”
You have a medical background, but having experienced cancer firsthand, what did you learn that you didn’t know before?
I’ve always been a half-full kind of girl. When I was in the bottomless pit of cancer despair, however, I learned what it really feels like to be sick, like thinking-about-death kind of sick. What I learned when I was in this place was to look for the Silver Linings in life.
Your blog also shares the stories of other women who have dealt with or are currently dealing with cancer. Was that something you set out to do, or did it come about organically?
Sharing stories was not something that I intended to do. I had so many people share their stories with me, each of which inspired me deeply. I thought, I need to share these stories with my readers so that they, too, can find inspiration! I believe that these shared stories help teach, influence, inspire, and ultimately bind people together.
What is your relationship with your readers?
I have the most amazing relationship with my readers. The most meaningful exchanges have been when readers tell me, “You give me words to describe my experience when I could not find them.” The best comments are when people say, “I had no idea how to talk with my children. Thanks to your blog, I am able to talk with my children and know that they will get through this, healthily.”
Speaking of children, how old was your daughter when you told her about having cancer?
My daughter was 4 3/4 when I was diagnosed (and when I told her). Children are incredibly intuitive and smart. In my professional experience as a Pediatric Hospice Nurse and Social Worker, I have seen firsthand that children know something serious is going on even when no one says anything to them. They deserve open lines of truthful communication.
What did you say to her?
1) That she did not cause the cancer. Frequently, children believe that they are to blame for an illness or even death. Sad but true, 2) That cancer is not contagious, 3) That she will be cared for while I am sick and that she will never be left alone. Children mirror the reactions of the adults in their lives. Therefore, I told her calmly and she reacted calmly. I encouraged her to talk to me/us anytime, anywhere about what she was thinking and feeling.
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
The incomparable, binding love between a mother and child is the most beautiful thing in the world. There is nothing, absolutely nothing better than hearing my daughter say, “You’re the best momma in the world.”
What are some sites that you visit everyday?
You mean in addition to Elizabeth Street? I love Slim Paley, Mrs. Lilien and Tory Burch. I am crazy about their style because they incorporate humor, travel, style, fun and seriousness in their ongoing effort to balance work and family. I also love the Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting blog on the New York Times.
How and when do you find time to blog being a mom?
Isn’t that the gazillion dollar question? Like every working mom I know, finding the balance between being a great mom, wife and friend is really challenging. However, for the time being, I seem to be keeping my head above water.