Keeping Up with Loved Ones Through Social Media

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Have you found it difficult to update your friends about your mesothelioma cancer diagnosis?

Using social media to give updates about your treatment or recovery can help save precious time and energy.

It’s common for patients to get tired of repeating themselves when talking about big news on the phone or in person. A lot of your friends and family members will ask similar questions, which is why sharing on a blog or your Facebook Wall helps everyone catch up and be on the same page.

Of course you will want to have a more personal conversation when you’re talking to those closest in your life. But for some friends, family members, acquaintances, and co-workers, one of the best ways to keep everyone in the loop is posting on a social website.

Unlike an email list with specific recipients, posting on Facebook sends an update to all of your friends. But what if sharing with that many people is uncomfortable?

First, decide what and how much you would like to share. You also have the chance to talk about other parts of your life.

If you’re concerned about privacy, you can always update privacy settings to limit who has access to your posts. Another method you can use to stay private but reach out to the community is to blog anonymously.

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Facebook “What’s on your mind?”

Suleika Jaouad, a columnist for The New York Times, wrote about the challenges she faced when considering whether or not to post about her cancer on Facebook.

After her diagnosis she avoided Facebook and didn’t want anything to do with it. There was a sense of nostalgia from her pre-cancer life that “stirred uncomfortable emotions.”

Eventually she “started to reveal bits and pieces.” And slowly, a significant part of her life was unveiled. Telling others what was on her mind about her cancer actually became therapeutic.

No News Does Not Mean Good News

Start with small short posts until you feel safe and comfortable. Maybe give a quick update about an upcoming doctor appointment or respond to a post on a cancer community wall. For example, many people who have had loved ones affected by mesothelioma post their pictures on our wall.

An important aspect about posting information publicly is feeling that it serves a purpose. Posts don’t have to minimize what you are going through, and they shouldn’t exaggerate either. There is a reward for public honesty that comes in the form of support, others sharing stories and communities to interact with.

Would you like to discuss the challenges you faced with your mesothelioma cancer? Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.


Ben Leer is an outreach coordinator with The Mesothelioma Center. He works toward increasing education and awareness of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Part of Ben's job is to reach out and engage with patients, caregivers and family members on our online communities.

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