More than 370,000 women with cancer are turning to social media during cancer treatment and recovery, according to a new study.
New research released by Macmillan Cancer Support this week, ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4 shows that vast numbers of women use social media as a way to boost self-esteem while going through cancer treatment.
The research found that more than one in four women (27%) going through cancer treatment or recovery are using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as traditional methods such as speaking to friends and family or health professionals.
Sara Cutting, from Brighton, who has been treated for breast cancer, said: “I came up with a fundraising idea to raise money and awareness for Macmillan by posting a selfie of a silly thing on my head every day, as a way to overcome the fear of losing my hair when I started chemo.
“Prior to this I had never used any social media so I was amazed by the response I had from people far and wide; some people I knew, others complete strangers. That was over three years ago and I still post a picture every day with the hashtags #nowgocheckyourbits and #fightingfearwithfunny.
“I have met so many people online in similar circumstances. It has helped me no end to overcome my ‘new appearance’. I now choose to remain bald by shaving my hair weekly in solidarity of those going through hair loss due to treatment. I love being a baldie – I’ve never felt more confident in myself as I do now and I really believe this comes in part from the love, support and encouragement I get from my online friends and family.”
Of those gaining a self-esteem boost from using social media, more than one in three (35%) say that social media takes their mind off their illness; and half (50%) say that the networks help restore some normalcy into their lives with cancer.
Despite reports claiming that social media has had a negative impact on self-esteem, it appears that for those living with cancer, speaking to people via social media platforms has given them a boost. Almost a quarter (24%) of women who used social media say that one or more digital platforms have improved their self-esteem. And more than half of these (58%) say following the experiences of more people with cancer makes them feel stronger.
These findings demonstrate the ways in which little acts of kindness, such as a simple message or a positive comment, can help give a boost to those living with cancer.
• Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that over 90,000 UK women found using social media during cancer boosted their self-esteem with 38 per cent of them stating that they ‘felt like they could be themselves again’ online
• New research released ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4) when Macmillan is highlighting the impact that little acts of kindness can have on those living with cancer
• Macmillan’s online community is available 24 hours a day for those seeking support https://community.macmillan.org.uk
Ms Dany Bell, Treatment and Recovery Specialist Advisor at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These findings ahead of World Cancer Day show that for many, life with cancer is still life and being able to share their cancer journey or speak to others who are going through something similar can offer a much-needed support system.”
For information and support, go to www.macmillan.org.uk/worldcancerday
For more information please contact:
Kathryn Johnson, Communications Officer – South East
Kjohnson@macmillan.org.uk / 0781 3029 186