Have you heard about Breast Cancer Social Media? Join the #BCSM community!

Breast cancer pink ribbon

Knowledge is Power Series

When you’re sick, or even when you’re well, information and camaraderie help.” That’s how health researcher Susannah Fox opens her excellent 10 minute video on “Peer to Peer Health Advice.” 

YouTube thumbnail for Peer Health Advice video Image sourced from

Breast cancer has never struck my family, but through my work in healthcare social media I know many whom it has … and they often express how important it’s been to them to connect with others who are in the same boat

Peer health advice played a vital role in my own cancer: I’d never known a soul who had my disease, so all I had was fear and bad predictions. It was inspiring to talk to survivors who’d been as sick as me, and to be honest, it was great to be able to get answers in the dark of night to questions that I really didn’t want to bother my doc with: “What will the treatment really be like?”, “How much does it hurt?”, and “If I do survive, will my life change?
Best of all was that my fellow patients answered questions from my perspective: the sick person

Here’s one inspiring example that for me was transformational: they gave me hope. “Doctors are trained not to give us false hope when odds are bad,” they said. “But hope itself can be therapeutic.

There was another secret bonus: amid my own peril, it felt great to discover that I could help others in their journey, too. 

Of course, as with everything else online, you’ve got to be thoughtful about what you read online and who you talk to. So for Breast Cancer Awareness Month we thought we’d offer you some websites and patient communities recommended by my savvy friends in the breast cancer social media world, which they call #BCSM:

(#BCSM co-founder Alicia Staley has an image sharing story long before PocketHealth was born. She was getting care at two different Boston hospitals, and transferring images between them took so long that she got the CDs and carried them 1.3 miles through the snow while sick!)

For offline / IRL connections, in Ontario there’s Gilda’s Club Toronto. And for prevention and early detection, try Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, and the creative KnowYourLemons.

Of course, patient-to-patient connections are not a replacement for physicians. But as Susannah’s video makes clear, they can provide tremendous additional information and emotional support. You don’t have to go it alone.

Thanks to #BCSM co-founder Alicia Staley, “Mighty Casey” Quinlan, and Andrea Downing for their recommendations.

p.s. For maximum impact of your donation dollar, consider giving directly to research, for instance the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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