How social media can help people cope with cancer

Over the last 12 months two young friends of ours had the misfortune of being diagnosed with cancer. It is sometimes difficult to know how to support people with cancer as you often don’t know the right thing to say nor when to say it. What’s more, research has shown that those suffering from cancer often feel depressed and lonely which makes a tough situation even tougher.

A little while after the first of our friends was diagnosed, we noticed something interesting - she started using Facebook to share updates on her progress and what she was going through. At first it seemed that people were not sure what to say, or whether to hit the "like" button. But soon enough we began to see a tirade of support posts following her updates, including well wishes, notes of support and some people even reflecting on their own past experiences. We noticed the same happen with our second friend. Facebook provided them with an avenue to talk to their friends candidly about what they were going through and to update them on their progress. Furthermore by updating their friends through a single post, they were able to avoid having to re-tell the same story again and again.

In spite of what some critics say about social media, the benefits abound and can be seen in examples such as that illustrated by our two young friends. Facebook has provided them with an avenue to talk about their situation, and in turn receive support from their friends and those that have been through similar ordeals. People often underestimate the enormous value of a few kind words of support when you feel at your lowest. With the help of social media portals such as Facebook, your support network can be far more extensive given how easy it is to communicate with multiple friends at once. Social media clearly has a huge benefit in these situations.

Facebook contains thousands of pages dedicated to support groups helping people to not only cope with cancer but hundreds of other ailments and illnesses. It's worthwhile having a look through these pages and seeing the positive impact it creates for those who need the support the most. So the next time you see a post from a friend talking about a difficult issue, be sure to reach out and show your support. The smallest act of kindness and empathy can have the biggest impact.
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