The digital age has changed the way we live, the way we work and now it has also changed the way we view cancer. In addition to offering a world of information, the internet can offer hope, solace and support to cancer patients.
On Twitter, clicking a hashtag like #prostatecancer can instantly return thousands of people who are going through prostate cancer. It can also lead patients to helpful information about the latest treatments or clinical trials.
There are also Facebook groups that offer a safe haven for patients to share some of the thoughts and fears that they might not feel comfortable sharing with their family, friends, or even doctors.
Support groups whether in-person or online can also serve as passive places to read and digest other people’s experiences with cancer. Many patients benefit in the feeling that they are “not alone”.
A columnist for the Lymphoma News Today shared a story online about how the fellow lymphoma sufferers she met online have become her closest friends; so much so that they served as bridesmaids in her wedding. She told about how the strength she drew from online support helped her through the darkest times. She said that in her experience, social media became her safe haven.
In addition, blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts allow users to reach out to others with cancer in faraway places. Many patients report that they have made lasting friendships that endure way beyond their final rounds of chemotherapy or final cancer treatments. Social media has made a huge impact; becoming the 24-hour support group patients need. Patients are comforted when they can reach out and touch and be touched by people who truly understand what life with cancer is like.
Social media also empowers cancer sufferers to share their knowledge and empower themselves and others. Sharing knowledge through online outlets helps patients make informed decisions and be more proactive about their treatments. Today’s patients often bring up new treatment ideas with their doctor; vs. the not so distant past where they were more likely to wait for their doctor’s suggestions.