Join BIDMC's Online Cancer Community
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager Emeritus, Oncology, Social Work
NOVEMBER 26, 2019
I have always been a big fan of good support groups. My long experience has been that a group community can be more helpful to many people going through or recovering from cancer than any other kind of support. Of course groups are not right for everyone, and note the adjective good in my first sentence. They are not all created equal.
The pros and cons of cancer support groups
People have many reasons for thinking that they are not interested in joining a group. Top among them is the legitimate worry that they will hear new things to worry about and/or become attached to other people who may not fare well. These are real possibilities and need to be considered and discussed before joining a group. Let me promise you, however, that an experienced and competent group facilitator will minimize these risks and help the group maneuver through any tough times.
Other concerns include geography, time of the meeting, fighting traffic, difficulty and expense of parking — that is, the logistics of the meeting. Finding a group that meets close to home can alleviate some of these problems. For example, there are support groups at BIDMC’s Lank Cancer Center in Needham. There are also a number of support groups that meet at the BIDMC Cancer Center downtown. For information, contact BIDMC's cancer social workers, who can tell you about support groups at the medical center as well as others in the community.
Finding good cancer support online, 24/7
Several years ago, partly in response to the difficulties mentioned above, we launched an online support community in partnership with Cancer Connect, a national program. Having an online resource eliminates any challenges related to distance, time, and illness, childcare or just busy schedules. Online means that a community is awaiting you whenever you choose to join in. This particular online community also promises that the groups will be monitored, legitimate, and free of the scary problems that can arise on some online chat rooms or cancer groups.
How to join BIDMC's Online Cancer Community
BIDMC's Cancer Community is a portal to many national groups, representing virtually every kind of cancer. Even if you have been diagnosed with an unusual kind of cancer, you are likely to find others in the same situation. Because Cancer Connect represents large cancer centers and smaller hospitals all over the country, there are participants from many places. What quickly matters is that someone else has esophageal or kidney or whatever your kind of cancer is, not that they live a thousand miles away.
Signing up is easy and free. You need to click on the link for Cancer Community, register with your email and a user name. You can choose to use your real name or make up something to protect your confidentiality. No one will know who you are or where you are unless you share that information.
Please give this a try. Join the Cancer Community and ask questions, share tips, explore the challenges of your diagnosis and treatment with others who have been or are going through the same thing. Cancer is too hard to do alone, and this is a very easy way to build your community.
Have you been in a support group or tried an online group? Join the BIDMC Cancer Community and share your story.