Creating Your Cancer Support Network Online
By: Pete Sheehan, MyLifeLine.org Chief Executive Officer
A cancer diagnosis can overwhelm entire families in addition to the physical and emotional toll it takes on patients. Many questions are raised that often go unanswered, at least initially. The sheer volume of communication needed to provide updates to family members and friends can also be overwhelming. MyLifeLine.org, a Denver-based non-profit focused on social and emotional support services for cancer patients, was created to help solve this problem.
MyLifeLine.org exists to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis. We connect cancer patients and caregivers to their community of family and friends for social and emotional support. We provide free personalized web sites, communication services, cancer resources and tools that allow patients and caregivers to share their journey and focus on healing.
I became involved with MyLifeLine.org due to my own experiences and the promising role technology plays to help patients and caregivers. I live in Denver with my wife and two young children while the rest of my extended family resides on the East Coast. When a family member experiences a health issue it can be difficult to travel to see them and provide support in person. Today’s technology, however, ensures that every patient can stay connected to their entire support community, and each member of the support community has the ability to stay involved and provide strength and inspiration to the patient. Research has shown that a thriving support community is beneficial to patients’ healing process.
- A recent study of 735,0000 cancer patients included in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program found that improving social support for our patients may be equally as important as providing effective therapy, and it is less costly to develop and implement.1
- The provision of practical support increases the likelihood of adherence to evidence-based medicine 3.6 times.” 2
Patients aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a strong support community. Caregivers, the people taking care of the patients and coordinating communication and care, need to be supported just as much as the patient. It can be equally overwhelming to be the primary person supporting the patient and managing care, appointments, medications, meals and transportation on top of lives that are already busy.
WHAT PATIENTS & THE ONCOLOGY COMMUNITY ARE SAYING
I encourage anyone facing cancer, or anyone who knows someone with cancer, to consider setting up a free site with MyLifeLine.org. We’ve heard from a countless number of people how it positively changed their experience with cancer. A family living across the country was able to know when their loved one had a chemo appointment. A small town rallied around a hardworking individual to raise thousands of dollars for their medical costs. A single woman was able to schedule meals delivered to her from her eager to help group of friends. We heard from one patient who loved MyLifeLine.org because he was able to have a sense of normalcy with his friends; since they were up to date on his condition, they could spend time together without asking about his cancer.
MyLifeLine.org goes beyond the personal websites to connect patients and caregivers to their support community, and allow them to gain control, be empowered and become their own advocate. The service is offered for free to all people impacted by cancer.
1. Aizer AA, Chen M-H, McCarthy EP, et al: Marital status and survival in patients with cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 31:3869-3876, 2013
2. DiMatteo MR: Social support and patient adherence to medical treatment: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology 23:207-218, 2004
MyLifeLine, part of the Cancer Support Community, connects cancer patients and caregivers with their family and friends for social and emotional support. We provide a unique, web-based communication platform with free cancer-specific resources and services to empower patients on their journey. To learn more and build your community, visit www.mylifeline.org