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How an online community can help people with cancer cope

Whether you or a loved one is affected by cancer, we understand that everyone’s experience is different. It’s normal to go through a range of emotions – everyone reacts and copes in their own way.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people with cancer and caregivers may feel amplified emotions of anxiety and loneliness or experience new emotions altogether. With physical distancing and changes to our normal routines, this time of increased health concern can be especially challenging for those affected by cancer.

That’s why the Canadian Cancer Society is continuing to offer our telephone and online support services to help people better manage cancer, find community and connection, and build wellness and resilience in the comfort of their homes.

Now and all year-round, our online community at CancerConnection.ca is there for people like Wes.

Joining a community of shared experiences

A middle-aged man with glasses smiling at the camera.

In 2018, Wes felt something was wrong. Thinking he was having a recurrence of kidney stones, his doctor sent him for an ultrasound. While the ultrasound did reveal a kidney stone, doctors were concerned with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in his bloodwork. When multiple tests showed that his PSA levels were rising, Wes was sent for a prostate biopsy. Soon after, Wes learned he had prostate cancer. He struggled to understand the diagnosis and was uncertain about what lay ahead. Turning to the Canadian Cancer Society website, he learned about our nationwide support system for people with cancer and their families. He found CancerConnection.ca and connected with people who helped him navigate this difficult time in his life.

CancerConnection.ca is an online community where people affected by cancer and caregivers can share their experiences and build supportive relationships with others who’ve been there. People living with all types of cancer can join the community and take part in discussions, exchange messages and share helpful information.

For Wes and others on their cancer journey, members of this supportive community can often provide a unique and relatable perspective that family or friends may not be able to offer.

“The community was extremely open. Everyone shared their personal experiences and helped me stay educated through my journey,” says Wes. “Hearing other people’s stories helps you realize that you aren’t alone. Looking up to other people and connecting to their experiences helped ease a lot of anxiety.”

A source of support

After the online community gave so much to him, Wes decided to give back as a community mentor on the site and be a source of support for others. As a mentor, Wes welcomes new members, starts discussions and helps members navigate their cancer journey.

“I see what people post now and it’s almost identical to what I posted when I was diagnosed,” says Wes. “I can relate 100% to these members and provide guidance based on my experience. Giving back what was given to me makes me feel good.”

Having a supportive community of individuals that are going through similar emotions and experiences can help people affected by cancer feel less anxious, more hopeful, and better able to cope with their cancer journey. During a time like this, when people may feel especially isolated or lonely, support for our services like CancerConnection.ca is more important than ever.

We’re here for you during the COVID-19 pandemic

On CancerConnection.ca, you’ll find discussions about different cancer types, the emotional roller coaster of cancer, caring for someone with cancer and many more. If you or a loved one is affected by cancer during this time, some new discussions related to cancer and COVID-19 that you may find useful are COVID-19, COVID-19 repercussions and coronavirus and cancer treatments. In these threads, members are opening up about their questions, concerns and experiences in a safe and supportive environment – and you can too.

We encourage you to join the conversation, build connection and find the support you need on CancerConnection.ca.

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