For many people with cancer, connecting with others provides emotional support and inspiration during a challenging time. Whether it's joining a support group or finding a support buddy, there are several options to get the help you need. Joining an online community makes it easier to connect with others, even if they live far away.
About online communities
Online communities let you create a personal profile where you share information about yourself for others to view. You choose whom to invite or allow access to your profile. Online communities offer several benefits for people with cancer, such as:
Making it easier to stay in touch with family and friends, and reducing your need to repeat the same updates to different people
Connecting you with other people in a similar situation, such as people who have received the same diagnosis
Helping people find support no matter where they live
Giving people who don't like in-person groups another option to connect with others
When considering joining a community, think carefully about what details and how much information you are comfortable sharing with others. This varies from person to person, and it can change over time. Several sites offer privacy settings and tools, which let you control who can view your profile and what they can see or read. When creating a profile, learn about the privacy settings and options the site offers. This will help you find out how your information is used and how it can be accessed. Learning about such features may help you feel more comfortable when sharing your profile. If you don't feel comfortable with the privacy settings and options, you may want to try another platform or tool.
In an online community, you can post a picture or video of yourself and share updates with people in your network whenever you choose. Sharing stories with other people in an online community could be a way to learn about treatment options and other concerns, such as side effects. While sharing these experiences is helpful, keep in mind that only your doctor can give you the best advice for your type of cancer and situation. And remember that your experience with side effects may be different from others.
If you have thought about joining an online community, here are some organizations that offer tools to build a community that can be personalized or communities for different types of cancer:
CancerCare offers about 100 online groups for people with cancer and their loved ones. The groups are led by oncology social workers who give support and guidance.
Cancer Connect combines current cancer treatment news and educational content with a moderated social community for patients and caregivers. Cancer Connect is used by some cancer centers, allowing patients to interact with others receiving treatment at those centers and creating a destination to seek information, support, and inspiration.
Cancer Support Community is an international nonprofit dedicated to providing support, education, and hope to people affected by cancer. They provide support services through a network of professionally-led community-based centers, hospitals, community oncology practices, and online.
Cancer Survivors Network (CSN) is a peer support community from the American Cancer Society for cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, families, and friends. CSN is a safe place to connect with others who share your interests and experiences.
CaringBridge allows you to create a free, private, and secure web page, communicate updates in a patient care journal, share pictures, and coordinate help.
Inspire features groups for people with cancer and their caregivers, as well as for other health conditions. After joining, members can post questions and comments on discussion boards, connect with other group members, and help other members and give encouragement by responding to their stories and questions. Several patient advocate organizations feature support communities on this platform.
Lotsa Helping Hands helps you coordinate caregiving tasks among family members and friends. Users can fill in requests for help on a group calendar for visitors to sign up to help. For example, you could post the dates and times that a ride is needed to and from treatment or mark a time when help is needed with grocery shopping. The message boards allow users to stay up to date and it offers a mobile application for iPhone or Android. They also provide support to members and coordinators of the My Cancer Circle communities.
Know Cancer is dedicated to connecting, educating, and empowering all people affected by the many forms of cancer. It offers an online community that provides social and professional support to patients and their loved ones.
MyLeukemiaTeam is a free social network that connects you with others who have been in your shoes, to provide emotional support and gain practical advice and insights on managing treatment or therapies for leukemia.
MyLifeLine.org is a part of the Cancer Support Community (see above). It provides free websites for people with cancer and caregivers to keep family and friends updated. A calendar on the site helps you keep track of doctor and treatment visits and other important appointments. Users can post requests for help, such as rides to appointments, babysitting, or donations.
Navigating Cancer is a free website specifically for people with cancer and their supporters, offering tools and cancer resources that empower patients to take control of their health and partner more closely with their physicians, support network, and other like patients.
Smart Patients is an online community where patients and families affected by a variety of illnesses can learn from each other about treatments, challenges, and how it all fits into the context of their experience.
This list is provided for informational purposes only. Cancer.Net and ASCO do not endorse the content, operators, products, or services of such applications and websites and are not responsible directly or indirectly for any damages or injury caused by or in connection with use of any content, products, or services available through third-party applications and websites. As always, be sure to talk with your health care team about any questions you may have about information you find.
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More online options
Many patient advocate organizations offer online support services, such as discussion forums and chat rooms. This can also include social media-based support, such as through the organization's Facebook or Twitter accounts or by using a specific hashtag. Look for disease-specific patient advocacy organizations for information on what resources or online support services they offer.