Social media has exploded in popularity in recent years. It continues to grow as more and more accounts are created each day. People use social media to follow the news, keep tabs on family and friends, interact with others, play games, and so much more. Although it often seems like a trivial waste of time to some, it can also offer a level of social connection and support for those experiencing unique issues, such as being diagnosed with cancer.
Those who have been diagnosed with cancer have taken to social media to seek support, give support to others with cancer, and learn more about the specific cancer they have. Of course, there are some drawbacks to be aware of with social media. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with social media and a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
PRO: PEER-TO-PEER SUPPORT
Peer-to-peer support is one of the most important benefits of social media for cancer patients. There are a handful of support sites that are for people diagnosed with and currently fighting cancer. These sites allow patients to interact with each other to chat, exchange knowledge, and offer support during such an incredibly difficult time.
PRO: INFORM FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Peer-to-peer support sites are great but there’s also outlets for family and friends of cancer patients. These social media sites allow patients to update their condition, their treatment information, notes about surgery, and anything else pertaining to their battle. The friends and family members of patients will then be able to read these updates. The social media sites also help patients ask for and organize support. This can include meal trains, donations, rides to treatments, and more.
PRO: PUBLIC FACEBOOK GROUPS
Public Facebook groups offer cancer patients a look at the disease from an international perspective. Patients can interact with people from all over the world. Those people include other patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers, providers, and plenty of other people affected by cancer.
PRO: ACCESSIBLE 24/7
Quite possibly one of the biggest benefits of using social media when fighting cancer is that it is accessible around the clock. You can access the support sites from anywhere in the world at anytime of the day. This allows everyone the opportunity to go straight past the energy, time, and stress of finding support in person. Being able to chat with someone in the middle of the night can be a real blessing.
Privacy is always a number-one concern when doing anything online. This holds true when using social media. This is even more of an issue when others could be monitoring your posts and trying to figure out your identity without you knowing it. This is one point of view to remember when using social media when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
CON: OVERWHELMING INFORMATION
Another potential hazard you can experience when using social media as a cancer patient is that you will come across an overwhelming amount of information. When you search for a topic, you may be inundated with hundreds of links. When you follow pages and accounts on social media, your feed will be flooded with hundreds of articles and posts, some of which could include incorrect information. This can be overwhelming even for patients with a good deal of social media experience.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Dealing with cancer can be lonely and frightening, so having social media can be a way to stay in touch with others and also learn get some support. If you find that social media is mostly helpful, then don’t be frightened by the negative potential. Keep your guard up with strangers and don’t be afraid to block or report someone who is annoying. Take care to notice how you feel after being on social media, and if you find it’s getting you down, it may be time for a break. All in all, however, feeling that connection with the rest of the world may be just what the doctor ordered.
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