Social Media Led Me to Lasting Bonds and Cancer Camaraderie


In spending just a few minutes a day on Twitter, I’ve created a support group with other cancer survivors who know how it feels to face the disease.

Twitter offers patients with cancer a quick and easy way to advocate for fellow survivors. Sure, it would be nice to give an inspiring TED talk about your cancer journey or write a book about your experience to raise the spirits of your fellow travelers, or, you could put those goals on the back burner for something more immediate: Social media interaction.

Think of cancer patient advocacy not in terms of reaching the masses, but a one-on-one, heart-to-heart endeavor. All you really need is to take a few moments every couple of days to check in on your cancer peeps on Twitter. (If you prefer, Facebook has tons of cancer support groups).

I learned that important lesson when I began to reach out to fellow cancer survivors on Twitter. In a year’s time, I’ve built a support group of about 150 cancer survivors, discovering that we are akin in these ways:

  • Still not quite over the shock of hearing the word “cancer” on that fateful day of our diagnosis.
  • Still worried sick the cancer is lurking in there and will come back.
  • Still dreading every single scan in advance and those grueling days afterward before the results arrive.

Right off the bat those of us traveling the cancer journey share a common bond of worries and anxieties, but we also yearn to receive positive vibes and viral love from our kindred spirits.

Tell it Like it Is

Some cancer survivors on social media are not bashful about disclosing their health status and the constant worries that accompany that. Some even post photos of themselves at the infusion center or hospitalized with tubes and portals in plain view. They hold nothing back.

On any given day, I find at least half-dozen or more friends awaiting a dreaded scan or who have received good news or bad from their oncologist. All it takes, then, is to provide prayers, blessings, reassurances and loving concern. Sometimes, congratulations are in order.

Regardless of whether the news is good or bad, social media helps us remember that we’re not in this thing alone.

A Tight-Knit Group

Cancer patients on Twitter form a tight-knit group that is vocal in their support of those who are heading down this most familiar road. We reach out in a timely way with good wishes and an occasional emoji or GIF to top it off.

Strangers become friends and we rejoice with one another over good news. But those in our inner circle also provide tributes to those who lose the fight, tweeting out our heartfelt condolences to surviving family members who take over the Twitter account.

For me, the benefits of spending time with my fellow cancer survivors on Twitter are:

  1. It’s a few minutes a day.
  2. I’ve formed a lasting bond.
  3. It’s an easy way to connect.
  4. I found a purpose with a few keystrokes.

Cancer patient advocacy on Twitter: Give it a try!

Hint: To get started building your cancer community on Twitter, search for #cancersucks, #cancersurvivor and similar hashtags. Ron’s Twitter handle is @CancerLite.

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