This week, a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology told us that social support can have a seriously positive impact on early detection, treatment and even survival of cancer. Makes sense, right? Having someone who advocates for you, encourages you to be proactive about your health, offers advice and extends a hand to hold or shoulder to cry on is helpful. This study got us thinking about our My CCA Support Online Community.
Next year, we’ll be celebrating our 15th birthday here at the Colon Cancer Alliance. We're proud of how we’ve grown and transformed to become the organization we are today, but also of the vital pieces that have remained unchanged. Our My CCA Support Online Community chats are one of our longest-running Patient Support services. In fact, they started in 1999 - the year the Colon Cancer Alliance was founded - in a Yahoo! chat room. Today, the chats continue to help people through their cancer journeys. How? Because they’re an opportunity for colon cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, family and friends from all over the country to connect with and support one other, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hope, encouragement, and genuine affection of our chats are truly contagious. And if the recent research isn't enough, these anecdotes are firsthand proof.
“It’s nice to connect with other people who are going through the same thing,” said Heather, a My CCA Support member and frequent chatter. “These are people you know you can ask questions to and joke with about things others might not get. There are only so many treatments, so chances are the folks in chat have been through it. It makes it easier to go through it yourself when you have others to guide you.”
“Chat to me,” said caregiver Val, “is my time during the day to break away and meet with my friends and share stories, sorrows, happiness, some good laughs, some cries and learn much more than I ever knew about this disease. I treasure the time spent on the chat. I don't think the people on the chat really know what it does for me.”
“When I first joined My CCA Support, I loved the connections I made with people in the chat room,” says stage IV survivor Jeanne. “Some of those people have become fast friends. We are all in the 'chronic cancer' club and relate well with each other. Now, I like helping other people who have been diagnosed with colon cancer. Having been at this for almost eight years, if what I've learned can help ease someone else's path, then I'm fulfilled!”
“The chat room was a life saver for me,” says Mark, a stage III survivor. “I was lost and confused after being diagnosed, and the cancer survivors in the chat room were able to help me through all of my difficulties because they had experienced the same things that I had. Now that I am a survivor, I try to give back by helping newly-diagnosed patients with the issues that they might be experiencing. Also, I think the fact that I am a nine-year survivor might give these folks a sign that there is hope for them, too.”
The My CCA Support chat room is always open, but the best times to participate are during our scheduled chats.
- Daily Chat at 12:00 pm ET: It’s an informal gathering where people share support, humor, advice and friendship
- Stage IV-um Chat at 7:00 pm ET on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month: This chat is for stage IV survivors and caregivers including the newly diagnosed, patients in active treatment, and those with no evidence of disease
- Special Event Chat: These are scheduled chats each month that focus on a specific event or topic, such as the CCA’s National Conference, Managing Medical Records, Caregiving, Cancer & Kids and Humor.