Managing Your Business Like A Professional

4 Benefits Of An Online Cancer Support Community

by Sherri Robinson

No one ever wants to hear the words "you have cancer." Unfortunately, nearly 1.8 million Americans will be given this diagnosis by their doctor this year. Naturally, this can be an overwhelming life event for the newly diagnosed and their families. Thankfully, you can find support in an online cancer support community. Here are four benefits of becoming a member in one of these forums.

1. Specialized Support Groups

Some cancers, such as breast cancer, are quite common. There are different subtypes of cancer, though, and some are quite rare. For example, while breast cancer is common in women, it can also affect men.

Doctors do diagnose men with breast cancer and while the world wide web has a plethora of information readily available for female breast cancer, you will find less data on male breast cancer.

With so few men diagnosed with breast cancer, it would likely be difficult to find someone in your area who is struggling with the same disease. Online cancer support communities can connect people diagnosed with rare cancers.

2. Professional Healthcare Moderators

Healthcare professionals such as social workers and oncology nurses moderate many online cancer support communities. With their medical background, they are able to provide expert guidance to forum members as they navigate their way through the confusing or conflicting information often found on the internet.

As healthcare professionals, they may also be aware of other support resources as well as research studies, and medication or treatment trials going on. While the information they provide is not a substitute for your healthcare team and should not be construed as medical advice, moderators often do a good job of explaining things in common terms.

3. Decreased Anxiety

Some people do not have a group of supportive people in their "real" life. Others may have people they can talk to, but their circle is unfamiliar with cancer and everything that comes with it. Additionally, some patients live in rural areas without any local support groups.

Dealing with cancer with the assistance of others is tough but when you are on your own, it is usually even more difficult. Having an online community you can turn to for information and support can make coping easier and lessen anxiety.

4. Caregiver Support

Cancer doesn't just affect the patient — it affects the entire family. Loved ones, especially when they are the sole caregiver, must deal with not only caring for the person but their own needs as well as their fears for the future. An online cancer support community provides a supportive forum to discuss these difficult feelings without burdening the patient or other family members.