image credit goes to growingsocialmedia.com

image credit goes to growingsocialmedia.com

by Amy Malczewski, #facingtheissues

What do social media, cancer, and the holiday’s have in common? A lot more than you think!

Social media has become one of the biggest phenomena on the Internet in the past 10 years, and continues to grow not only in people’s personal lives, but also through business and other fields in the workforce. It’s almost impossible to find a company who isn’t on Facebook, or asking for people to tweet at them. So, it should come as no surprise that social media is hugely popular in the adolescent and young adult cancer community.

“I’m so impressed with how positive people are…You can learn from other people’s experiences vicariously”

The exchange of information and stories on social media – which are often empowering to tell as well as hear – teaches patients coping strategies. The anonymity and openness of the online world is perfect for people who need to vent, says Brad Love, an associate professor of communications at the University of Texas in Austin. Blogs have traditionally been a great resource, but more recently different organizations have been thinking out of the box.

Zachary Linscott, a brain cancer survivor, started an organization called ‘Stupid Cancer’, which puts on conferences, boot camps, town halls and meet ups, in addition to connecting people to hundreds of other support networks throughout the country. Linscott calls it the “yellow pages” for young people with cancer.

Kristen Crane (2014) writes: One of the group’s latest endeavors is “Instapeer,” a mobile app that provides people with immediate one-on-one support from peers. This may be one of the most powerful tools yet, Linscott says, since finding a person who is going through exactly what you are forms immediate bonds and can also be informative. Instead of making 50 calls, cancer patients can read someone’s blog, she adds. On Twitter, patients may engage in weekly chats for specific purposes, such as #bcsm (breast cancer social media), #btsm (brain tumor social media) and #ayacsm (adolescent and young adult cancer societal movement), Zachary says. And websites such as whatnext.com, ihadcancer.com and mybcteam.com are modern versions of traditional forum platforms, he adds.

“I’m so impressed with how positive people are,” Love continues. If someone is feeling negative, feedback from other people can help turn that feeling around. “You can learn from other people’s experiences vicariously,” he adds.

Creating this positive energy around the holidays is especially important.

Kellie Bramlet writes: Help those in need. “The best part of the holidays has been engaging in service — that is, the opportunity to give back to others who are less fortunate and in need. Including my children in these service efforts has been very rewarding for them and allows us to come together as a family and celebrate while also giving to others.” –Andrew Davison, lung cancer survivor

Helping those in need doesn’t have to be going out and getting physically involved in your community. It would mean writing a simple blog post when you’re not feeling well, joining a chat online, and just being there for someone else. Helping someone on an emotional level is sometimes a lot more powerful and rewarding. Just simply being there can really turn someone’s day, or even life, around.

Happy Holidays to all- from everyone here at The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults!

Read full articles and stories here

http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2013/12/cancer-patients-5-ways-to-maintain-holiday-cheer.html

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/12/04/how-social-media-helps-young-people-with-cancer