As part of the launch of The Silver Pen blog, last week I also launched a new Facebook page by the same name. I’m pretty new to the world of social media. Very new, actually.
I had no idea that one page could inspire the development of an entire community (I mean I guess if I really thought about it, I probably would have agreed that it could potentially have this impact). I digress. Anyway, I am now witnessing this phenomenon firsthand. I have been seriously blown out of the water by the responsiveness to The Silver Pen Facebook page. What is happening on the page is nothing short of miraculous, in my opinion.
Practically overnight (actually over the period of about a week), a community of people has come together for encouragement, support, advice, and resources. It is essentially an online support group.
As I witnessed in graduate school and in my clinical work as a nurse and social worker, participation in a group can have tremendous Silver Lining effects.
Two phrases succinctly describe how valuable support groups are: “Sharing is Caring” and “Learn to Cope through Knowledge and Hope.”
Support group members provide each other with various types of help for a particular shared, usually burdensome issue or illness. The help may take the form of inspiring hope, providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ encounters, providing sympathetic understanding, and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. Members of a support group can also help educate one another about treatment and coping options.
Another advantage of a support group is that people of different ages and walks of life, who were once strangers, have now become friends (as in Facebook friends!). They have something in common with each other. Because they understand each other and what it is like to suffer from a shared life challenge, they are willing to help and support one another.
Now, truth be told, when I was going through treatment, I did not attend a support group. Partially because I could barely get my bald head out of the house for treatment, much less to a support group. Partially because I wasn’t in a place to be able to take in other people’s problems…or so I thought. This is one instance where my professional background did NOT influence my personal experience.
In other words, I think that support group participation could have helped me…especially when I was on Isolation Island. In fact, a variety of studies support the fact that a community can lower levels of stress hormones, improve quality of life, and enhance immune function. Shoulda-coulda-woulda. It’s never too late to teach an old FBC patient a new trick, though!
Speaking of which (yes, I’m the “old” one!), I have to say how excited and honored I am to consider myself a part of this community of people on The Silver Pen Facebook page, not just those who have had or do have cancer by the way. Many people who are friends and/or family members of people with cancer (all different types) are writing. The stories are phenomenal.
Witnessing the fact that the participants are living inspiration to others which is the greatest Silver Lining I can imagine.
If you need some support or inspiration, I’d love to have you join!
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.