A mother and daughter holding either side of a phone

Finding Support Through Social Media as a Caregiver & Patient

Last updated: May 2019

After being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at 25, my daughter Crystal had to spend a lot of time alone. I went with her to all of her treatments, but on the other days, I had to work. Her sisters and father also had to work which meant Crystal was by herself a lot. When she wasn’t sick in bed, she turned to social media. This was a saving grace and extremely helpful to her because it filled some of the lonely hours. One of the main reasons for this is was because this is where she found a lot of support.

Finding an outlet for stress and loneliness

Crystal is a meteorologist and works on a local TV station doing weather. When she got cancer, she announced her illness to her viewers and then took leave from the station to focus on her health. During that time, she needed an outlet for her stress, discomfort, and loneliness. Sharing her story helped her to cope with everything she had going on in her life. Crystal shared her story in writing or by doing videos. This helped her to put it all into perspective and get out her feelings. By doing this, Crystal got so much support. The letters, well wishes, and gifts she received really helped her to feel better, even on some of her worst days. She was very happy she made the decision to share. It helped her to heal.

Sharing my caregiver story

I believe people are genuinely kind and good-hearted. This was proven by all of the support Crystal received just by sharing her story online. Many people, myself included, like to keep what we are going through to ourselves. I have been rethinking that. I got to see first hand the difference it made in Crystal’s attitude and life, and how sharing her cancer journey helped her to heal. I have started to share my story of being both a caregiver and cancer patient as well, and if nothing else, getting it out in writing is very therapeutic.

If you don’t want to share with others, try keeping a diary. I wish I would have done this when I found out I had cancer, and I wish I would have started keeping a diary for Crystal when she got sick. Both of those times were difficult and I think having an outlet for my stress would would have been very helpful. This may not work for everyone, but it is something to think about. One thing I’ve learned about cancer is to not hold anything in. Letting it all out in some way is what helps many of us to feel better and heal.

Something to think about

Many of us are forced to spend hours in the chemo suite. Just the thought of going there used to have a huge effect on Crystal mentally and physically. Writing and sharing her cancer story helped Crystal to feel better. Perhaps bringing a journal or diary with you might encourage you to write down whatever is on your mind. This is inexpensive and you might find it really helps. One of my philosophies is, "If it doesn't hurt and it might help, why not." Like my daughter, you may find writing and sharing to be very therapeutic and healing.

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