Cancer Support Groups on Facebook
- Despite negative press lately, Facebook has proven itself a lifeline of support and connection for cancer patients and survivors. And a support system is vital when battling cancer.
- There are thousands of cancer support groups on Facebook. Posts range from supportive messages to health and medical information, but the latter can sometimes do more harm than good.
- Facebook is a great place to seek support, but it’s not a place you should seek reliable medical information.
Cruz Paulo posted in the CANCER SUPPORT NETWORKS FOUNDATION Facebook group on Oct. 15 looking for support. “My sister learned today that they are going to remove her breast urgently. … She is in need of good energy I don’t care if you know her or not. No one deserves to go through this. So I ask you to post a message of love and hope on her Facebook page as a form of encouragement.” And he got that support.Read More
“I got breast cancer 11 years ago with full mastectomy. I got over it and still hear to tell the tale. Hope this will encourage her to see it’s not all doom and gloom.xxx,” Vanita Page commented.
Having a support system is vital when faced with a potentially deadly illness, and Facebook has fostered that support system for many.
Earlier this month, damaging information about Facebook was brought to light by whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook. What Haugen said has led to what might be the most threatening scandal in Facebook’s short-lived history. Haugen told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that the social media platform “harms children, sows division and undermines democracy in pursuit of breakneck growth and astronomical profits,” according to NPR.
There are thousands of cancer support groups on Facebook, most with thousands of members who post several times a day. Posts range from supportive messages to health and medical information, but the latter can sometimes do more harm than good.
Cancer Warriors Supporting Fellow Warriors
The support from family, friends, or even those who understand what you’re going through is what’s going to get you through it. This is something cancer survivor Kelly Sargent can agree with. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, not knowing anyone, but she says she’s been “blessed with having met some incredible ladies.”
“When I was diagnosed (with ovarian cancer), as soon as I got in the hospital, I started going online to find not only information, but also support groups, stories from survivors, anything that I could find as far as my treatment I definitely looked for,” she tells SurvivorNet. “I have an incredible set of friends that I met after my diagnosis through a Bible study group that have become very, very close friends of mine that are an incredible part of my support system. That support from those ladies has been life-changing for me.”
Cancer warriors supporting fellow cancer warriors is a powerful thing. And even though Sargent didn’t find her support system through Facebook, there are thousands out there who have, and continue to seek support on Facebook.
Cancer Support Groups on Facebook
SurvivorNet has scoured the web and found some of the best cancer support groups for patients and survivors, as well as people with loved ones who have cancer:
- Cancer Support Group (37.8k members) — This group is open to all who want to listen, read, learn, comment and share their story or treatment, “their good news or the bad news … We are here for you … We want to share news that you can use … You are in our prayers.”
- Breast cancer support group for patients and their loved ones. (6.6k members) — This group was created for “those women who have breast cancer, for those who needs support in order for them to be brave and strong enough to face all the difficulties but this is also a group for those who want to give support to all the ladies whose suffering from breast cancer. We are here to give advice to the caregivers of women or men who have breast cancer.”
- Cancer Survivors and Supporters (42.6k members) — This group is for all cancer patients, survivors and loved ones. “This site is to encourage one another and to share different life experiences. This is also to honor all those who lost the battle. We will always keep them in our hearts and prayers.”
- Cancer Support Group for Patients and Their Families (15.9k members) — This group was started to “create a place where those of us can come together and talk about our family members or those who have cancer can talk.”
- CANCER SUPPORT NETWORKS FOUNDATION (4.1k members) — This group’s mission is to “bring all our communities together, sharing ideas, supporting each other psychologically emotionally and reassurance that together we can.”
Great for Support, Reliable Medical Information? Not So Much
While Facebook is a great place to seek support while battling cancer, it’s not a place you should necessarily seek reliable medical information from. These groups are filled with not-so-reliable information about new treatments, as well as alternative therapies.
Patients who rely on unproven methods outside of the conventional medical realm often end up with fatal consequences; a study released by researchers at Yale University in 2017 revealed that patients with cancer who only use alternative treatments are twice as likely to die from the disease.
Dr. Jason Westin, leader of the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma research team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, tells SurvivorNet: “Make sure if you’re finding information on the internet about something that sounds too good to be true, talk to your doctor about it.”
How can you know whether the information you read online, especially medical information, is reliable? There are a few ways:
The National Institutes of Health recommends that, as a rule, the sites you get medical information from should be sponsored by federal government agencies. Knowing who or what sponsors and hosts the website you’re reading from is important, too.
- .gov are government agencies
- .edu identifies an educational institution
- .org usually identifies nonprofit organizations
- .com identifies commercial website
Who wrote the information? Who reviewed it? When was the information written? What is the purpose of this website? These are all important questions to ask yourself when seeking out reliable medical information online; and most of the time, social media isn’t the right place to look.