Hi. I’m Pat Wetzel and my blog is www.CancerRoadTrip.com. It’s about life, travel, and adventure. Oh, and by the way, I have incurable cancer.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with nodal marginal zone lymphoma, a rare and supposedly incurable cancer. I naturally became intensely interested in health. I started a blog AntiCancerClub.com and invited writers from a variety of disciplines to share their wisdom and experience.
As a result of my involvement in the cancer community, I also designed an app/platform that rewarded compassionate behavior towards others. Because everyone can use a bit of compassion, especially when dealing with cancer.
I hired a technology group to do the actual development. Instead, they stole my Intellectual Property, registering it with the Patent Office as their own, and refused to talk to me. Thousands of dollars and six months later, my attorneys had gotten nowhere. A lawsuit would cost $500,000 (or more) and take three years of my life, with no guaranteed outcome.
I had counted on the app to help monetize the years of work (and considerable investment) I’d put into AntiCancerClub. But it wasn’t to be. So I sold my house of 18 years to travel because, for me, travel heals. The journey became the blog, CancerRoadTrip.
CancerRoadTrip is about life. It’s about inquiry, passion, and disappointment. It’s about compassion, care and a bit of adventure. Because life is short. What’s on your bucket list? What really matters to you?
1. How long have you been blogging?
I sold my house in June 2018 and that’s when the adventure officially began. But I’ve always liked to write. In college, I once got an A- on an economics paper. I asked why the minus. The professor replied: “You write well, but you don’t have anything original to say.” I hope that’s evolved a bit over the years!
2. Are you a full-time blogger or do you also have another job/career?
CancerRoadTrip, the blog, is just a part of what I’m doing. Through my travels, I got to thinking: “If I could have a CancerRoadTrip to heal, why can’t others?”
So I’m making that a reality. I am putting together a consortium of people and companies. We are bringing together thought leaders in health, psychology and related fields with people impacted by cancer.
Patients receive a scholarship to a bucket list location and for five days we film the interactions of the group, as everyone seeks answers about health and even life. We share the videos for inspiration and education. And we wrap up with a short documentary.
The plan is, over time, to bring groups to different locations around the globe to experience different cultural approaches to life and healing. And, over time, this produces a global documentary series about health and healing.
3. What got you started into blogging?
Calamity! Business betrayal sent me on a course I never would have expected!
I’ve always had a saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough go traveling.”
So when major life adversity strikes, I tend to find comfort in travel. I grew up in a family that traveled for months at a time; I spent summers in the south of France and Greece and I knew Paris better than New York. As a result, I simply love the adventure of being on the road.
In many ways, I think I’ve found where I belong. In addition to writing, I bought a camera last summer. I’d never been a photo buff, but I am now! Photography has introduced a new world for me. I’m not able to play the sports I used to play due to side effects from all the cancer treatments, but I can shoot photos! And it’s become a passion.
4. What is your blog about and how does it help others?
At first, I wasn’t sure how much of the cancer journey to share, but over time I’ve gotten more comfortable with it and I think (hope) that it makes everyone stop and think about what is really important to them.
In the U.S. (and elsewhere) we don’t really have a clue about healthy living. We eat processed food; we think our computers are our companions; our mind is in a state of constant chatter. None of this is healthy.
I hope to spur discussion about the emotional, psychological and practical aspects of building a truly healthy life. It’s something we all need to consider, given that 40% of us will have a cancer diagnosis (!).
5. What is working for you and your blog? Why?
Twitter and Instagram are both great avenues for me to share my adventures. I especially like Instagram in that it’s very visual and kind. I also enjoy the Twitter interactions with my followers.
I introduced a new section on the website “Gallery”, which is a photo slideshow and essay section. The photos are getting good traction on social media and on the site, and it allows me to share a more visual perspective of my adventures.
6. What did not work out so well for your blog? Why?
I think originally trying to position my blog in Travel is a misfit. It is a travel blog, but it’s so much more (or at least I hope it is!) It’s really an exploration of people, places and thought; a reflection of life; and it’s about joy. Cancer makes you truly appreciate LIFE.
Being original has its pros and cons. The world wants you to fit into a nice neat category. I don’t. But I’m sticking with my path because I think the heartfelt quest of my journey is the driving reason to follow me. I don’t write about The Top Ten Things To Do or The Best Breakfast in a given location. I try to share a mix of travel and life adventure with a bit of reflection, against the backdrop of cancer. This may not be the best SEO strategy, but it’s real.
7. What tools are you using that you can introduce my readers to?
I use WordPress for my blog. The themes are great and with some customization, it’s an affordable way to build a nice site.
I also use Ahrefs.com for SEO. I’m new to SEO but working on it. It’s an important element to being found on the web. Lightroom is my photo editing app.
I also use a variety of other programs to monitor and grow my audience. Layout is a great app that allows me to combine photos and share them on social media platforms. I’m always checking out new apps and programs.
8. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a blog?
Have a passion and a long-term view. It is very unlikely that you’ll be an overnight success. It’s a big world out there on the internet and I think the key is to find your voice and connect with your audience. It takes time and perseverance to make that happen.
9. What do you have planned for the future of your website?
We’re currently designing a sister site, www.MyJourneyWithTheBigC.com where we’ll be highlighting the thought leaders, scholarship winners and locations for the healing retreats that we are giving away. It should be launching in September!
If you know anyone who has had or has cancer, please share the information. Signing up on CancerRoadTrip just means that we send you updates on posts and soon scholarship information as it becomes available. Follow me to stay in the know!
10. Where can everyone find you?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AntiCancerClub (I am using this base of 50,000 followers to spread awareness of CancerRoadTrip)
Are you interested in being part of the Featured Writer Friday series? If so, check out the featured writer guidelines. There’s not too much too it. It’s all about you, your writing, and your blog. Come on, click the link and be a part of the fun!!
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To your success.