However, I have also found that it can be a challenge to find resources through social media, since it is sometimes difficult to find relevant organizations and articles depending on the social media platform. So, I thought it might be helpful to dedicate a post to how to use the power of social media when you are looking for resources and support. No matter what stage of the cancer journey you are in, you can find answers to questions and advice through strategies and stories provided by organizations and other patients/survivors.
I know I’ve posted before about the benefits of Facebook and websites like CarePages and Caring Bridge for sharing updates with family and friends, as well as staying connected to the world around you when isolated by treatment.
What I have yet to talk about is the power of Twitter and Facebook for finding resources.
I didn’t have a twitter account until about 2 years ago. I didn’t believe in posting short blurbs about what I was eating or where I was. But, when I started to notice how many influential cancer support organizations were on Twitter, and sharing incredible resources, I realized that little blue birdie had something else to offer. So, I turned my personal Twitter account into an account dedicated to my blog and book. I started following cancer support organizations and people who were leaders in the effort to help adolescents and young adults get care that is appropriate for their age and unique social/emotional needs. In doing so, I’ve noticed that Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool to find resources.
One of the easiest ways to find resources on Twitter is by searching for hashtags relevant to the topic you are looking for. So, to help give you a place to start, here are some hashtags that lead you to a list of tweets with helpful resources from awesome organizations:
#ayacsm – this is a great hashtag co-founded by Emily Drake (@EK_Drake) a health promotion specialist who has done some awesome work in helping promote the AYA cancer cause. She was also part of a recent paper about social media use and online resources for AYA cancer patients and survivors (you can find it here). This hashtag leads you to twitter chat tweets, resources, and more.
#ayacancer or #tyacancer – these lead you to resources shared by great organizations like Teen Cancer America and the Ulman Cancer Fund.
#AYA –leads to resources from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (@Cancer_Strategy) and Young Survival Coalition, as well as the AYA Task Force.
#teencancer – leads to tweets by lots of different groups and individuals.
If you look up these hashtags, you can follow the organizations you find and be updated with resources they share. For example, Teen Cancer America has a #MondayMotivation post, which is really great to read every Monday. Also, by following organizations and individuals involved in helping teens and young adult cancer patients and survivors, you can find out about what they are doing. Last week, there was a Twitter chat about #ayacsm in which people from around the world were allowed to share thoughts on how to get more people involved in the AYA cancer movement. Avenues like that are great ways for us to voice our thoughts and share experiences. Additionally, those kinds of things are great ways to connect with other patients, survivors, and advocates.
Similarly, Facebook can be really useful to find resources from helpful organizations and connect with other people going through similar experiences. Most organizations have Facebook pages, so if you like their page, their posts will show up in your news feed. This is an easy way to find resources that are new and helpful! On Facebook, I follow Stupid Cancer and Critical Mass. They both regularly post articles and resources that I think are really great. Sometimes these organizations also have questions they pose or events they share, so you can find ways to meet other patients/survivors.
If you have any questions about using social media as a patient/survivor, feel free to reach out to me! I’d be happy to try to help you find resources related to whatever you are looking for. Also, I encourage you to check out the resources page on my website, as well as the list of resources at the end of my book (Riding the Cancer Coaster: Survival Guide for Teens and Young Adults, available on Amazon), to find out about more organizations to follow.