Friends real and virtual provide comfort

Love it or hate it, you have to admit Facebook does have its advantages. Sure, you can stalk an ex-boyfriend or brag about your awesome summer vacation on this form of social media.

But I have discovered in the past few weeks that Facebook is also a great way to share vital information with a lot of people with just a few clicks of the mouse.

As many of you may know, my dad has multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

In the past few weeks, he has been struggling with the effects of a chemotherapy treatment while battling the disease, which has led to several hospital stays.

While I won’t get into all the gory details, I can say it has been a struggle for not only him but also my mom, my brother and me.

During this time, I have been juggling my job and my daily life, along with taking care of both my dog and my parents’ dog — all while my husband was out of town on business.

Some days I think the only things that kept me sane were the text messages and phone calls I received from my mom and the ability to share the news with everyone I know on Facebook.

Some people will say that Facebook is too impersonal in that items you post on Facebook are shared with both your good friends and those acquaintances you added as friends on a whim.

In the few weeks I have been posting personal messages about my dad on Facebook, I have appreciated every kind word, whether it be from a lifelong friend, a new friend or even the acquaintances I forgot were on my friends list.

I have asked for prayers and received more than I could have ever imagined, even from people who have never met my father.

I have been stopped on the street by friends and colleagues who have asked how my dad is doing, giving me another chance to spill my guts about his situation, his blood counts, what the doctors are doing now and all of my fears.

While I haven’t said it all on Facebook, I have been able to use it as a starting point to let out some of my fears and share stories with people I know.

My brother donated blood for the first time Monday as a way to honor my dad who has received literally dozens of bags of blood in the past few weeks.

It was a first for my brother. When I asked how it went, he said it was actually very therapeutic being able to share dad’s story with the kind nurse.

I think I am using Facebook in that same way to start a conversation with people. Sometimes it just feels good to talk.

Yeah, I agree that Facebook can be a creepy way to stalk people. But in the past few weeks, I have learned Facebook can be a way to bring together a community of people. Though they may live on different continents or be generations apart, the can share a common joy, fear or experience.

I don’t know when my dad is going to get to come home from the hospital, but I do know that when he does, I’ll be sharing it on Facebook.

Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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