How an iPad, a camera, and a Tumblr blog helped me fight for my life

Gadgets give us an easier way to find recipes, joke with friends, and kill time on the subway, but they can also have a much grander impact on our lives. This holiday season, we’re stepping back to appreciate those moments. In our ongoing series, Tech That Changed Us, DT writers will share personal tales of how tech has truly reshaped their lives for the better. We hope it has for you, too.

I was sitting in the second row of my 7:50 a.m. World Civ class at university when I went to scratch an itch on my neck and noticed for the first time a poolball-sized lump underneath my collarbone.

A month later, on December 7, 2011, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin lymphoma.

Just one day after receiving the official diagnosis, I made my way down to the Simon Cancer Center at Indiana University in Indianapolis to hear my oncologist’s game plan to attack the cancer at its core. It was there, in the fluorescent-lit room on the oncology floor, that I sat alongside my mother, father, and fiancée as Dr. Larry Cripe told me I would need to undergo seven sessions of ABVD chemotherapy treatments.

Morbidly excited about the new journey I was about to embark on, I inquired as to when my first treatment would begin. Without hesitation and with his signature stoic glare, Cripe responded with a subdued, “Today, if that’s fine by you.” Naively, I pounced at the opportunity to get treatment started and prepared myself for the long walk down the second floor corridors to the infusion center.

On December 7th, 2011 I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin lymphoma.

Once the labs were finalized and paperwork was complete, I entered the infusion room, where I sat alongside fellow cancer patients to take in the cocktail of chemicals whose ultimate goal was to kill me just enough to keep me alive. It was the beginning of a long journey that ultimately took seven months to complete and required me to take a semester off from school to focus on, well, staying above ground.

Until this point in my life, I had never been a writer in any official capacity. I had written a couple dozen essays for college and pieced together a few intrinsic insights on a private blog, but nothing of mine was published for the world to see.

Inspired by the desire to share my journey with the world, I decided to use the one thing I had always held near and dear to my life to tell my story. Technology.

With the camera equipment I had amassed as a photographer, a new iPad in my possession, and the growing desire to explore unknown territory in storytelling, I decided to create “As Each Day Goes On,” a Tumblr blog that gave an inside look at what it was like to battle cancer from the perspective of a patient.

As Each Day Goes On didn’t have a definitive direction or any sort of editorial goal. Its only purpose was as therapy for me to get my thoughts out of my head, to update friends and family on how I was progressing through each treatment, and to hopefully inspire anyone who was going through cancer or who knew someone going through it.

Using my Canon T1i, and 16-35mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, and 50mm f/1.8 leness, I captured as many photographs as I could throughout my journey. From the drives down to Indianapolis, to the long walks down the dim hallways that led to CT scans, I used photography to show a first-person view of chemotherapy. I shared a select few of those images with the world on As Each Day Goes On, alongside words I had somehow managed to type up on my iPad while sitting in the reclining chair inside the infusion center.

Little by little, these entries and images were shared around the globe by fellow Tumblr bloggers, friends, family, and acquaintances. With the views came questions, anonymous and otherwise, from curious readers who were always welcome to submit inquiries. I would then do my best to answer them on the blog.

I decided to create ‘As Each Day Goes On,’ a Tumblr blog that gave an inside look at what it was like to battle cancer.

Unlike my cancer, which was shrinking by the week, As Each Day Goes On was growing. Every day, I would receive messages from others who had either beat cancer or knew someone who had, thanking me for giving them insight into the experience and sharing my journey. At a time when everything seemed to be numbed by the grab bag of painkillers and chemotherapy drugs, Tumblr, my camera, my iPad, and the internet as a whole became a place for inspiration and relief in the most unlikely form. The blog helped keep me going as much as any chemotherapy. It reminded me that I was not alone in this battle.

Eventually, I had to take a break from As Each Day Goes On. Despite only having treatment every other week, it took its toll, both physically and psychologically, to that point that even talking about treatment made me gag. Although I wanted little more than to continue sharing my story, every time I would attempt to finish a sentence or reply to a question, I would have painful mental flashbacks to the last infusion.

After treatments were done, I came back to the blog and did my best to pick up where I left off. But, much like the cancerous cells inside my body, it never came back to life. It now serves as a poignant reminder of how something so seemingly simple as a blog on an iPad can inspire and change a life.

Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

The best battery packs and power stations for use in the outdoors

If you want to keep your smartphones, tablets, and other devices charged while camping int he backcountry these battery packs and portable power stations are rugged enough to survive while providing plenty of power too.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

This A.I.-powered camera follows the action to produce epic selfie videos

Want to capture more epic action selfies? The Obsbot Tail is a camera-gimbal combo that uses artificial intelligence to follow the action. Using a handful of different modes, the camera works to keep the action in the frame.

Sony crams its best camera tech into the new $900 A6400

Love Sony's autofocus, but can't stomach the full-frame price? The Sony A6400 mirrorless camera uses some of the same autofocus technology and the processor of the A9 in a compact, more affordable crop-sensor camera.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 5.6K with new firmware

Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemispheres are stitched together. It also adds support for 24 fps video and RAW time-lapse…

With 5-stop optical stabilization, Fujifilm GF 100-200mm is ready for adventure

Fujifilm revealed a new lens designed to deliver on the GFX system's promise of adventure-ready medium-format photography. The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R is a weather resistant, relatively lightweight, 2x telephoto with impressive stabilization.

Olympus teaser shares glimpse of OM-D camera that’s good for more than sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's capable for landscapes…

Nikon A1000, B600 pack big zooms into compact, budget-friendly cameras

The new Nikon Coolpix A1000 packs in a 35x zoom lens, 4K video, and an optical viewfinder, while Nikon's B600 brings a 60x zoom lens to the table. The cameras are modest updates to Nikon's budget-friendly zoom models.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.