How social media can help you cope with a blood cancer diagnosis
A cancer diagnosis is life-changing. I didn’t know where to turn. But social media helped in many ways, from showing me I wasn’t alone to providing practical tips for coping with chemo
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 23. For a few weeks, I was completely in shock. Everything went by so fast – with all the scans, tests and biopsies, everything was a blur. I didn't really know where to turn. I felt so alone and isolated. I had so many questions.
So what did I do? I turned to Google, of course. I needed to know how my life was going to change and what I was going to go through. That's all I could find at the time, there was no guide book on how to deal with cancer.
Social media showed me that I wasn’t alone
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find anyone who’d be able to relate to what I was going through and how I was feeling. Although there were days throughout treatment when I felt more alone than ever, I came to realise that there are millions of people going through the exact same thing. The pain, the sickness, the chemo – every single thing. It was social media that helped me realise this.
It took me a while to post something with acknowledged my diagnosis on Instagram. I’m pretty sure it was just a quote or something which may have seemed small to others but was a huge deal to me: I was putting myself out there and asking for support. While scrolling through Insta, I found the hashtag #noonefightsalone. It’s so true.
I connected with so many amazing people while going through my treatment.
I’ve met some incredible people on Instagram, Twitter and online forums
Not just on Instagram, but on other social media platforms too. I felt comfortable chatting to people about anything and everything. Cancer really does connect people in such a strange way and you can really develop a strong bond.
I’m now real life friends with many of them. If it wasn’t for cancer, I wouldn’t have met them. So, thanks cancer. I’ve flown to New York to meet a girl called Nicole after speaking to her on Instagram for two years. I was so happy to finally meet someone who had been by my side since I first posted about my diagnosis.
Seeing others sharing their stories and seeing what they are going through really inspired me to put myself out there and share not only the good times but the bad as well and that’s when the best support happened, the support I needed the most.
Yes, you probably have a support system of friends and family, but unless they have or have had cancer and as much as they would like to they can’t relate to the things you are going through.
My advice for anyone looking for support on social media
Search Instagram and Twitter for hashtags relevant to what you’re going through. Sign up to the Bloodwise Forum – it’s an amazing community full of support. Just reach out and comment! Everyone on there is or has been going through something similar to what you are. They’ll be so supportive.
You'll develop an unexplainable bond to anyone else who has or has had cancer. You'll meet other cancer fighters and survivors through social media that you eventually become friends with. They get you. They understand you. They will help you get through it.