Online Cancer Communities: The Good, the Bad, and the Deeply Personal

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Ever stumbled upon a forum or a Facebook group where people share their personal experiences, advice, and stories about battling cancer? Welcome to the world of online cancer communities. These platforms have become a lifeline for many, offering a space to connect, share, and heal. But like any online community, they come with their own set of pros and cons.

Introduction to Online Cancer Communities

Imagine being diagnosed with cancer. The whirlwind of emotions, questions, and fears can be overwhelming. Now, imagine a place where you can talk to others going through the same journey. Online cancer communities have emerged as a haven for those affected by cancer, providing a platform to share, learn, and connect.

The Good

Emotional Support

One of the most significant benefits of these communities is the emotional support they offer. Being able to talk to someone who truly understands your journey can be therapeutic. It's like having a friend who's been there, done that, and can guide you through the ups and downs.

Sharing Information and Resources

These communities are a goldmine of information. From the latest treatments to supportive therapies, members share resources and advice that can be invaluable. Ever wondered about the side effects of a particular medication? Chances are, someone in the community has firsthand experience.

Building a Global Network

Cancer knows no boundaries, and neither do these communities. They bring together people from all over the world, creating a global network of warriors battling the same enemy.

The Bad

Misinformation and Myths

However, not everything is rosy. With the good comes the bad. Misinformation can spread like wildfire in these communities. From miracle cures to harmful myths, it's essential to approach the information with a critical mind.

Emotional Overwhelm

While sharing can be therapeutic, it can also be overwhelming. Reading about others' struggles and challenges can sometimes amplify one's own fears and anxieties.

Privacy Concerns

Sharing personal health information online always comes with privacy risks. It's crucial to be cautious about what you share and with whom.

The Deeply Personal

Personal Stories and Journeys

Every member has a story. From diagnosis to remission, the deeply personal journeys shared in these communities can be both heart-wrenching and inspiring. They remind us of the resilience of the human spirit.

The Healing Power of Sharing

There's something profoundly healing about sharing one's story. It's as if by putting it out there, you're letting go of some of the pain and making space for healing and hope.

Navigating Personal Boundaries

However, sharing also requires navigating personal boundaries. It's essential to know when to share, how much to share, and when to take a step back for one's own mental well-being.

So, Where to Go?

Choosing the right online cancer community can be a daunting task. With so many options available, how do you decide which one is the best fit for you? Based on insights from this article by Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO, here are some questions to consider:

  • Is the community genuinely supportive?
    While individual needs differ, effective communities are characterized by informed and responsive members. It's essential to find a group that aligns with your preferences and current requirements. Consider if it's the right fit for you.
  • How established is the community? 
    Some groups have a long-standing presence with a vast membership, providing a rich knowledge base. In contrast, newer communities might still be finding their footing. Determine which suits you best.
  • Is the community tailored to my needs?
    Cancer is a wide disease with hundreds of subtypes and characteristics.  Finding a community focused on your cancer type, age, or situation is important for specifics, but general communities hit on large themes and issues. Assess if the discussions resonate with your situation.
  • Are medical professionals involved?
    While a few online communities have medical oversight, many do not. This lack of professional guidance can be a concern. Always evaluate the accuracy of the information shared. If in doubt, consult your healthcare provider.

List of Online Cancer Communities

We can vouch for everything that happens in these communities, but here is a list of online cancer communities.

Cancer Connect
Cancer Support Community
Cancer Survivors Network (CSN)

Cancer Research UK - Online Community


The Colon Club
Colon Town 
(1000’s of locals groups)
I Had Cancer
Lotsa Helping Hands

Know Cancer

Navigating Cancer

Patients Like Me
(many cancer-type specific groups)
Smart Patients
Stupid Cancer (Young Adults) 
Thanks Cancer
(Dark Humor on Twitter) 
ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association

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