When my diagnosing specialist suggested I had Neuroendocrine Cancer, he also told me not to go online whilst we awaited the results of the liver biopsy. I completely ignored that and went online! I very quickly discovered why he said that because the Neuroendocrine Cancer information online in 2010 was indeed scary, despite me being a very experienced user of computers and the internet; and despite me being to some extent, an information worker. It’s not just knowing where to look, it’s also about the interpretation and knowing what is current and what is out of date. As a novice NET patient, I found out my 5-year survival rate was only 38%. It looked like a credible site but I now know it was totally out of date! I’m still here!
Fast forward 6 years and I now confidently prowl the internet, I know where to look, I know what to ignore, I know what is current and what is out of date. I understand the disease and am able to put most things into context. Even today with much more positive stuff out there about new treatments and much better prognostic forecasts, I suspect for newly diagnosed patients, it will still be scary.
When I established my blog and then my ‘front end’ supporting Facebook site, I decided to put this experience to good use to help others (including myself!). I like to help people navigate the muddy waters of Neuroendocrine Cancer. This can bring with it some tough questions so I’m always careful to manage expectations. Fortunately, I have a number of ‘go to’ sites, people and organisations that I use once I’ve established someone’s requirements.
I’m often reluctant to recommend particular patient forums to anyone as I think many of them can fall into the scary category, particularly those without any form of monitoring or ‘community champions’ who are experienced or trained to handle the issues that can occur online.
Around a year ago, I decided to join the Macmillan Online Community Information site, and was pleased to see it had a blogging app. I found it to be an excellent site and it has a ‘one stop shop’ of supporting tools and information. It’s very easy to navigate and use. You can read the content but you need a logon to blog or comment on any discussion (pretty standard). Their information on many of the issues faced by cancer patients is second to none (Finance, Work, Emotions and many others). I know some NET patients are wary of technical information about NETs online but of all the sites that are designed for supporting multiple cancers, Macmillan is one of the best ones for general NET information. There is also a discussion app (a forum) which I try to monitor and help those who find this site and are struggling to find answers to certain questions. There isn’t really a strong presence in the Neuroendocrine Cancer section but it is a less common cancer. They have a number of ‘Community Champions’ on their forums who are absolutely fantastic and they make you feel comfortable. Moreover, they make you feel like you are not fighting cancer alone.
I’m also a heavy supporter of Macmillan on twitter as some of their campaigns directly benefit Neuroendocrine Cancer. More and more people are now living with Cancer and there has to be more focus on maintenance and support, in particular for the consequences of cancer. Macmillan is at the forefront of these campaigns and they are an organisation that can make a difference. I have listed some Macmillan twitter accounts to follow below. If you’re a tweeter, your help with their campaigning would be appreciated. UK patients can also sign up as an e-campaigner – this is an easy task involving half a dozen 10-minute online activities per year – so you too can help make a difference by adding your voice.
In terms of Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness, the Macmillan blog site is now my 6th biggest referral point to my Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer blog and they have also featured several of my posts and used some as guest blogs. I was therefore both delighted and honoured to have been chosen to feature in their ‘Community Information’ campaign poster which you can see as the header picture in this blog. During the photo shoot, I also got to meet the fantastic staff from Macmillan Cancer Information and Brand Awareness departments.
Finally, please note that Macmillan have advertising space booked and you may see my face as you’re driving through the UK streets or stood at a bus stop. Now that is scary!
Thanks for listening
Ronny Allan – Macmillan Cancer Voice
for those on twitter, please consider following and supporting these twitter accounts:
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