Many years ago, I was in San Francisco over New Year & we went to see a friend who offered me a glass of wine at 10.30 in the morning local time. When I pointed out that it was a bit early for wine, he said “Honey, it’s always sundown somewhere!” a fact which was brought into focus this weekend when I joined an amazing online lymphoma support community…..
From my perspective, it has been a fairly typical British bank holiday weekend – rain, rain & more rain & because I didn’t have my son at home with me, I had some lazy mornings, drinking coffee, reading books & checking out social media. During my browsing, I came across a support network for lymphoma, sent a request to join it & within 5 minutes had not only received a confirmation of my membership, but also several welcome messages from other members! Over the next few hours, I spent time reading about the experiences of other lymphoma patients & was absolutely blown away by the level of encouragement & words of wisdom offered by others. I have often felt that it is easier to understand what someone is going through if you have been through it yourself & as an empathetic person, I took an enormous amount of comfort reading so many expressions of compassion & understanding.
One post, originally written in the middle of the night, caught my eye in particular & what really struck me was the number of quick responses. I have talked before about keeping my inner little voice in check & one of my biggest problems is that 3am “shift” when everyone else is asleep & when, frankly, no one is going to want a phone call if my mind is working overtime! So where do you turn at times like that?
And that is the beauty of the online community, since there is always someone else around who wants to talk. So, in terms of patient support, it has occurred to me that we’re missing a trick if we don’t use the internet to put more people together like this but there’s something else too - we need to ensure that people who need this support understand how to use it! The internet is an amazing thing & as I have said in previous blogs, the ability for campaigns to go viral highlights the power of social media as long as you have the confidence to use it. Maybe we need to branch out & give people training on how to access social media safely so that they too realise the benefits of being in a true 24 hour society ..