The O2: Paola Staccioli on the left, Serena Ranieri on the right
ALCASE Italia has decided to give the prestigious Lung Cancer Journalism Award to the author blog The O2 created for OncoLine by Paola Staccioli, writer and freelance journalist, and Serena Ranieri, international event organizer.
OncoLine is the channel entirely devoted to oncology published in Repubblica.it, the most widely read news website in Italy.
The blog’s title is taken from the formula for oxygen: O2. The authors are like two molecules of oxygen that when linked to the article ‘the’ give rise to the name of the blog. The O2, whose symbol seems to evoke the more famous (only for now!) U2, are like a breath of fresh air for those who, overwhelmed by the web’s magnitude, seek information on lung cancer.
Paola Staccioli, author of the pieces submitted to the Global Awards, gives us a first-hand account of her daily life, suddenly turned upside down by the eruption of an unforeseen relapse a year and a half ago. To share her existence with thousands of readers, she has had to face the burden of a not for granted coming out and be open about an illness that, contrary to other neoplasms, does not elicit empathy from the public.
When sharing moments of highest vulnerability, the author never resorts to the ploy of victimization, instead she opts for an extremely lucid style marked by an ironic streak that has become the blog’s distinctive characteristic. The post Cancer aside, I’m well, in which Paola reveals to her readers the formulaic answer that she routinely uses when pressed on the state of her health, adroitly illustrates this trait.
Overall the author’s accounts are a real hymn to life aimed at those who are ill as well as those in good health. It’s an incitation to savor every single moment engaging all five senses, sharper than ever because of the illness, capable of giving moments of unexpected emotions. The author who for professional reasons has toured the world, (and continues to do so,) as a result of her malady has discovered that the most important journey is the one inside oneself to uncover those inner landscapes that no worldly panorama can deliver. Paola’s relationship to her illness is ambivalent, on the one hand she fights to steal time from her cancer, on the other she values the lessons in life that it has bestowed.
Over time the blog has become a place where other patients and family members can share their stories. Thus the author’s experiences become intertwined with that of her readers. This has lead to the creation of a virtual community in which no one is alone, and everyone is nourished by the words of another.
The O2 blog is the illustration of how words can play a role in defeating lung cancer, a devious illness that often thrives on the silence of its victims, amplifying fears and anguish. Words capable of opening new paths to shared knowledge; words that lend an ear and tend a hand across digital space.
translation by Silvia Baraldini