It’s not quite as exciting as I’ve made it sound with the above title. Upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, feelings of isolation can be overwhelming. This holds true not only for the patient, but for caregivers and family members of the patient. It often feels as though no one can understand the experience except for others who have been through it themselves.
The internet enables us to find communities of support without having to leave our homes. This can be invaluable when you are immune-compromised from chemotherapy, as I was.
Following are five online resources for breast cancer patients:
1. http://www.cancer.org is an incredible all-around resource. Whether you are looking for support for yourself, or your family, or simply resources for the changes your body undergoes through breast cancer treatment, this site can point you in the right direction. Although they are not an “online support group,” they offer their Reach to Recovery program, which pairs cancer patients with cancer survivors. These meetings can take place via telephone, or in person, and you can find more information at http://www.cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/reach-to-recovery.
2. http://www.bcsupport.org is more of a social network for breast cancer patients. You can passively read the information shared by other patients and survivors, or participate in chat rooms. Under the category of laughter being the best medicine, they also have a “daily laugh medicine” tab for anyone who needs a bit of a lift.
3. http://www.pink-link.org offers online chat with other patients and survivors, as well as friends and family members. Breast cancer does not happen in a vacuum: each member of a family experiences it together, in different ways.
4. http://www.dailystrength.org has multiple discussion threads that are available to anyone: breast cancer patients, caregivers, or family members. Individuals will post a topic that comes up in lift form on the home page for breast cancer support: http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Breast-Cancer/support-group.
5. The non-profit Cancer Care offers an online support group that pertains specifically to me: The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation (www.tnbcfoundation.org) keeps the same online chat forum as the above websites. They also offer what they call “Cancer Care for Kids” as a support group for children whose parents are battling breast cancer.
The five above-referenced sites don’t even represent a fraction of what is available online for breast cancer patients and their loved ones. There are groups available for in-person support, as well. Gilda’s Club has several locations nationwide, for example. When in doubt, anyone can call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345.
Isolation is not a requirement of a breast cancer diagnosis. You do not have to take up residence in the Fortress of Solitude. Reaching out – in person or online – can give you the support and understanding that are invaluable during your battle.