I’m delighted to kick off the 2020 series of Social Spotlight interviews with award-winning blogger, and founder of online cancer support community Let Life Happen, Barbara Jacoby.
Barbara has contributed her two-time breast cancer journey, patient advocacy mission and domestic abuse experience to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.
Hi Barbara, I’d like to start off by asking you to tell us how you got started with social media. What prompted you to get involved?
BJ: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time in January 2008, my husband suggested that I put my thoughts and feelings on paper as my way of getting out my emotions. He promised that if I did, he would find a way to share my writing. True to his word, he created the Let Life Happen website that was named the same as the title song of a 15-song CD that he and I had created together in 2002 and he continues to handle all of the technical aspects for the site.
How wonderful to have that support and to have someone to share the success of your work. How has your mission and your site evolved over the years?
BJ: For more than 12 years, I have been writing a weekly blog as my central platform on my website. As I expanded my mission over the years, I added a daily “in the News” feature nearly 7 years ago and a “Clinical Trials” feature just 3 1/2 years ago And now I have been fortunate enough to have a “Paid Opportunities for Cancer Patients” feature on my site for 6 months as a result of the input received from other organizations who are striving to find such gigs for the patient and caregiver communities.
Twelve years is a long time in the social media world. You’ve seen many new social platforms emerge in that time. Which platform(s) do you enjoy using the most?
BJ: I have a great appreciation for all of them as each has a very distinct purpose. LinkedIn is the one where I have been able to best interact with other medical professionals and patient advocates. Twitter is the easiest way to get out a very concise message about something that I want to share. Facebook is of utmost importance for a number of private communities where information is shared among those dealing with similar issues. Intstagram has been a perfect place to provide a short inspirational message from a quote taken from my blogs. Pinterest has been a great place for the sharing of such things like hairstyles, beauty tips, recipes, etc. for those who are or have received treatment that has changed their physical appearance and needs.
Are there any social media that you consciously avoid?
BJ: I avoid everything audio for a couple of reasons. First, as a paralegal for a business unit in a large corporation, I have seen too many people sued for words that were spoken and were either misquoted or misinterpreted. As I do not have either a nonprofit or any other business entity for my work, I can’t afford to be sued as I don’t have the money to defend myself in even a frivolous lawsuit. Second, and perhaps more importantly, when I listen to someone else who is providing information, if I take notes, I miss all of the subsequent info while I am writing. And if I hear something of particular interest that I want to share further with others, my mind wanders off to thoughts of what to say and how to best present it. And third, I find it more difficult to record a presentation and then go back and listen and stop and start the recording over and over rather than to just be able to read something and deal with each point as I go.
Do you have any advice for those who are just getting started with social media?
BJ: Do your best to decide in advance your exact purpose for being on any social media platform, the audience that you want to reach and be flexible enough to change your course as needed as you go. Nothing is ever going to be perfect so just do the best that you can and your audience will know your heart from the work that you share with them.
What super advice Barbara. I’d certainly agree with you on this. So, I like to end these interviews with a favorite quote or saying. Do you have one you’d like to share?
“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” – Margaret Atwood
I love the age-old wisdom in that quote. Thanks so much Barbara for taking the time to share your social media journey with us and continued success to you.
If you’d like to learn more about Barbara’s work, visit her website www,letlifehappen.com and follow her on Twitter @letlifehappen
This post is part of an ongoing conversation that explores how patient advocates, healthcare professionals, and researchers use social media to communicate their work. For more interviews, click here.