If you don’t like seeing jokes or fluff chat comments on the serious topic of breast cancer, if it makes you angry, this page is for you.
For years, my website breast-cancer.ca was just text, with facts and histology pictures, and hardly anyone ever saw it, because it had low rankings in google. This was very disheartening to me, because it was a lot of work to create about 600 pages of content.
Sometime in 2015, I did a re-design and introduced the “Moose and Doc” concept, and the chat between characters. This has made a big difference. People generally are appreciating the website more, and sharing it and linking to it, and that in turn has helped increase its traffic (number of visitors)
Look at how the traffic into breast-cancer.ca has been increasing, starting in late 2015.
( I’m writing this on August 8, 2016, and my daily unique visitors are about 16,000 per day. Before the Moose & Doc concept, it was just a few hundred visitors a day. )
And people with other websites are linking to my site.
People send me emails from time to time, the ratio of positive to negative is about 20 to 1. Yes, I do receive negative comments, (3 negatives since Moose and Doc began) and I hope to learn from them and improve the site.
When I did the redesign, I hired a freelance worker to edit the pages to write and insert the chatty text between characters, and add in the Moose making comments and jokes. This freelance writer was a woman in her 40s who was a nurse in the UK for many years. I had assumed that a woman writer, with healthcare experience, would write “acceptable” jokes that would not offend other women. But visitors to my site don’t know that the joking comments were written by a woman. They assume that I wrote them myself, and because I’m a man, and a doctor, some women feel the urge to complain.
Please complain to me, by email, to [email protected] I will look at any page that bothers you, and if I can substitute different humor, or change it completely to positive affirmations, I will.
One time, instead of emailing me, an angry woman wrote complaint letters to the Health Minister of Canada, to the Complaints Department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, to the Minister of Health in Alberta, and to my hospital administrator. She didn’t know anything about me, but wrote highly inflammatory allegations that I must be horrible in all aspects of my medical practice. Thankfully, these regulators ignored and dismissed it all.
But I was deeply hurt that someone would try to ruin my career and cost me my job, over humor on a hobby website, a site that simply hopes to help and provide information to people.
I also collect positive comments sent by email, but I don’t publish them. I just save them in case I ever need to defend myself, to show the majority of women are appreciative of my website.
Here’s one of the negative emails, (mild) but with a nice outcome.
For balance, here’s a few of the positive comments.
My website shows my name and email address and cellphone number on the bottom of every page. If you want to send some negative feedback, I would appreciate it if you would contact me first. As my website grows in traffic volumes, there may be pages that you encounter, that were never shown to real people before. Google can be like that.
My writing is relaxed tone, and my willingness to mix humor and distraction in a serious topic, are for a purpose that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs, but it does serve a purpose for some people. It makes me seem approachable, and some people need that.
Negative emails are rare, positive emails are once-a-week, but what I commonly get by email and phone calls, are questions being asked by people, once or twice a day. My role in answering these questions, isn’t to give specific medical advice, but usually I can explain situations with simple words, and help women with paralyzing fear and anxiety, to take the next step, which might be a follow-up scan or biopsy, or might be to have some trust that talking to an oncologist about treatment, is far better than facebook friends advice to “try tumeric or essential oils”.
Often, my conversations one-on-one by email, are directly addressing the fear of the cancer. I’ll write something like this, “…suppose the biopsy result comes back, with a lot of medical words and one of those words is cancer. Does that mean you are going to die? No. Most breast cancers are cured. It means that you’ll be following some steps to get treatment, to get it taken care of…”
My website audience seems to be women who have questions and anxiety AFTER their encounter with radiology (for mammograms, ultrasound, biopsy, etc), and BEFORE the resolution of either a benign result or a treatment underway. In this in-between stage of uncertainty, further anxiety about cancer is not helpful.
Yes, my website is different. It doesn’t look like a famous hospital or a famous cancer fund-raiser. It doesn’t look like a women’s health magazine filled with ads. It looks quirky and old-fashioned and personal.
Having said all that, send me that complain email if you wish. I’ll see what I can do about it, and try to improve.
Steven B. Halls, MD, FRCPC