Day 11 // Google Garble


We’ve all been there – waking up in the middle of the night with a pounding headache, lymph nodes the size of tennis balls, tingling fingers or another ailment with an unexplained origin. Concerned, of course, we reach for our phones or fire up the laptop and begin nervously Googling our symptoms, possible problems and treatment options.

And while sometimes Internet searches can lead to the right answers, other times it can lead to anxiety or what’s called cyberchondria: the unfounded concern over common symptoms based on online literature and research.

The internet is a tool and it can be used appropriately or misused. It’s no news that there is a lot of bogus information on the Internet, particularly when entering the realm of health and wellness. And, of course, you can find anything that will support or negate whatever your cause.

Early on when my symptoms began, the thought of using the Internet was not an option. I vowed to not send my thoughts down unfounded paths causing unnecessary anxiety. There would be enough angst surrounding whatever the diagnosis would be. And what if the concern was all for naught!

With curiosity today, I decided to review my browsing history surrounding the cancer diagnosis. Not to my surprise, I found that pre-diagnosis I had googled “cervical cancer” only twice, post-diagnosis only once along with “endometrial cancer” twice and “radical hysterectomy” once. With chemotherapy the story has been slightly different as I have researched options on managing the side effects. Browsing history total – seven times.

It’s human nature for us to worry when our health may be in question. But to add layers on to that fear from self-diagnosis complicates situations far more than necessary. My doctor, family, friends and nurses have applauded me for keeping my Google- distance. But others have asked very assumingly “why I stayed away from Google” almost as if that’s the norm. My candid answer (besides “why not?”) – Time is valuable. I’d rather spend that time with my daughter and husband, a glass of wine and a good book or working out. And ultimately, I’d rather have peace of mind.