Just like many others who have been diagnosed with cancer, my leukemia diagnosis was not anticipated.
There was no sense that something was wrong, no clear warning signs. Prior to my diagnosis I was living in London, where I had spent two years working as an investment banker before deciding to become an actor and changing my career completely. I was set to join two feature films, and had a visa to move to America. I had been working hard for years, so I wasn’t a stranger to exhaustion. I didn’t realise it was a sign of something far more serious than burn out.
One day, after weeks of exhaustion, I found myself feeling too tired to breathe.
I was visiting home at the time, and my parents rushed me to the hospital. Two days later, doctors told me that I had leukemia. Cancer was never – is never – part of anyone’s plan and yet here I was, being told I needed 900 days of chemotherapy. I had so many questions.
What would life look like after this? What was going to change?Fabian Bolin, CEO and co-founder of War On Cancer
Sat in my hospital bed, I wrote a Facebook post intended for friends and family – I was sharing frank, honest information about my new situation, and looking for advice or knowledge from others. 24 hours later my post had been shared 13,000 times. The amount of love and support I received – from those close to me and those I’d never even met before – was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
I made it my new mission to share my experience with the world through writing about it online through my blog, ‘Fabian Bolin’s War on Cancer’. The blog became my savior throughout the treatment; it gave me a place for me to vent all the frustration and darkness I was feeling and, perhaps most importantly, a place where I could feel less alone. My inbox was filled with thousands of messages from people sharing intimate details of their personal journeys, because I had shared mine with them. Whenever I felt down or sad, which I did (and still do) more often than I admit, I would turn to these stories, looking to them to give me the strength to carry on.
Feeling this immense connection with others, with people who, if I had not been diagnosed with cancer would have been strangers, brought me an enormous amount of comfort.
Every time we share our journey or story, we are reaching out a hand of support to others. People who are currently undergoing treatment can find inspiration by reading about someone similar to them, and can establish real and authentic connections with people who can relate to what they are going through. That’s why myself and my friend and co-founder, Sebastian Hermelin, developed our app, War On Cancer – a social network and safe space for these stories to be shared.
Right now, many people going through cancer will be coping with isolation and may find themselves feeling disconnected from friends and family. When I was feeling isolated, I found the best coping mechanism for me was writing about it. Whilst I don’t expect that everyone will be suited to writing a blog, I think that everyone can benefit from writing for themselves, or even just a few select friends, in order to collect their thoughts and feelings. At War On Cancer, we want to help people to build connections with others, by sharing what they’re going through.
We are a strong community, collectively. Sharing that strength through words will make us all that more powerful.
Fabian was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015, and is currently in remission following 900 days of chemotherapy. From his hospital bed, Fabian uploaded a post to Facebook which went viral, attracting thousands of shares within the first 24 hours. Enthused by this response, he went on to blog about his experiences of battling cancer and, through doing this, realised the positive effects that storytelling had on his own mental health, and the impact that a digital platform which allows people from all over the world to share their own experiences, would have – this is why he created War On Cancer.