Social Media and Breast Cancer Support

Connecting with other breast cancer survivors for mutual support, was not easy before social media came on the scene. Since Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other Internet accessible social media sites, newly diagnosed women and men, those in treatment, and those living with metastatic disease can choose from formal and informal support sources made up of survivors, caregivers, and healthcare providers.

During treatment for my first breast cancer, which was before social media came into its own, I wanted so much to find and speak with other survivors. Although I was able to work through treatment, I had no energy by the end of my work day to attend a support group meeting in the evening. I did not have the chance to attend a support group and share and receive support from others recently diagnosed with breast cancer until months after I completed active treatment,

When I was diagnosed with my second primary breast cancer, 10 years later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that social media sites gave me access to a number of breast cancer support groups.

Those of us who choose to use social media for support need to think about how and what we share with others on open sites where many will read our information. While friendship, words of comfort and reassurance are the goals of these sites, some people tend to use them as opportunities to give treatment advice.

Social media sites are not meant to be used as a source of medical advice.

We need to avoid interacting with participants that use these open forums to constantly vent about what is happening to them and offer nothing in the way of support to other participants. The whole premise of a support group is positive sharing to help each other and ourselves.

It is important to remember, when sharing on a social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, that everyone experiences breast cancer differently. While each of us may be able to identify with what each other is experiencing or feeling, it is best not to compare breast cancers. One person’s experience with a particular treatment may not be what we will experience when we have this treatment.

Many of us can benefit from social media support. Such support may make us feel less isolated following a breast cancer diagnosis. During months of treatment, this support can help us get through the bad days.

Social media networks are now available that offer us the chance to connect with each other by the type of breast cancer we have. Other networks give us a more geographic access to each other, while some focus on bringing us together based on age or our life situation.

A few examples of networks that were developed expressly to offer online support for women with breast cancer are:

  •  The MyBCTeam, refers to itself as a social network and online support group for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. MyBCTeam describes its service as providing access to breast cancer providers and peers who are living with or have survived breast cancer.
  •  A pioneer in the social media network, The Breast Cancer Social Media (BCSM) starting as a tweet chat, it has grown into a viable community including all those who are involved in breast cancer from patients and caregivers to advocates researcher, and physicians. The purpose of this social media network is to bring together those who share a common interest; to provide evidence-based education, resource information and support to all affected by breast cancer.
  •  Cancer Hope Network gives breast cancer patients and/or family members the opportunity to be matched with trained volunteer breast cancer survivors that have recovered from a similar treatment experience

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