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Losing a friend over Social Media

Losing a friend over Social Media

Posted by Vicki Coupe on 2 February 2015 | 169 Comments

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Losing a friend over Social Media

In Memory of Danielle Robinson, 29th Nov 1975 - 04 Oct 2014

Late last year a dear friend of mine lost her battle with brain cancer. Dani put up a courageous fight and all that knew her were inspired by her bravery, strength and great wit that she displayed in her battle with 'Tim' (the tumour).

But what Dani did during her battle was what was truly inspirational. In May 2013 she was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery. Until then Dani did not know she had a time bomb inside her head. The emergency surgery was successful and saved her life for the time being, but it was not without its problems. It left her weakened down one side of her body, but rather than hide away (as I surely would have) Dani with her characteristic cheeky wit and amazing strength made her battle very public through Facebook. She posted pics of herself with a half shaved head, massive scar and staples and with visually evident paralysis in some areas. She made jokes about herself and she laughed about herself (all the while we were all crying for her).

As time progressed she continued to keep everyone informed of her health and where she was at. Photos of her receiving radiation therapy with her despised mask and chemo were all put out there for the world to see. She held nothing back and in doing so, single handedly raised a massive amount of awareness regarding Brain Cancer. In January 2014 she finished her chemo and radiation, but her freedom was to last only a few short weeks. February saw her undergoing surgery once more.

All the while she kept up her good spirits and kept the world informed of what she was up to through Facebook. The hardest time came in September. She went ominously quiet and your gut told you that the end was near. Towards the end of September her husband posted an update to tell us where Dani was at. She could no longer see, no longer eat, the end was coming.

From this point forward I had never been so glued to Facebook. Holding your breath every time you opened it up to see if the news you were dreading had come through. Breathing a sigh of relief when it didn't, but you were always left wondering if her husband would let us know or if he was having too bad a time of it himself to be able to do it. 

Then on the 4th October, 2 hours after Dani passed away, the status was posted. She was gone, she slipped away, not in any pain.

Dani had hundreds of friends on Facebook (she was the kind of person you could not possibly help but to love the second you met her, such a devious and wicked sense of humour!) and the outpouring of grief was massive. Dani's death created an online community. Strangers sharing their memories and photos of Dani, all coming together as one big community. In many ways it helped a lot, everyone reminiscing about the good times, but at the same time it made it harder to believe. Here was Dani doing this, that or the other or so it would seem, but of course she wasn't. With having spent so much time in hospital, Dani had 'liked' a lot of pages on Facebook. Seeing sponsored posts pop up with 'Danielle likes xyz' was at times a bit creepy. 

In the week leading up to her death I registered a team for the annual Walk 4 Brain Cancer. I did it as I felt I wanted to do something. After Dani's funeral it began to take off. I initially set the fundraising target for my team as $1000. I had hoped we would raise money by having a large number of registrations and people buying the customised t-shirts. I was soooo off target. Walk4Dani raised over $26,000 in approximately one month.This is testament to just how much awareness Dani raised of Brain Cancer and Glioblastoma Multiforme IV by sharing her battle publicly on Facebook.

Facebook has many pros and cons, for me, I am not interested in what you had for breakfast or of your narcissistic selfies. It is certainly breeding a lot of self obsessed people which is never a good thing. But in this circumstance it was a blessing. Through social media we all knew where Dani was at, we all had a place to go back in time and share photos and read some of her cheeky posts.You got an insight into an incredibly strong and beautiful woman and how she coped with a devastating illness. It helped the grieving process immensely.

Now, 4 months down the track Dani's profile is gone. That for me is fundamentally sad. I no longer have a place to go to reminisce of my time with her and I view photos of mine with her in them, that I know she made comments on, but they have just disappeared too. I know it needed to be suspended, for the sponsored posts were driving everyone crazy, but I think Facebook really needs a 'deceased' option, whereby that profile can still be seen by Dani's friends, her photos are still tagged and her comments still viewable. It feels like Facebook just erased a part of life...



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