Cancer Survivors Make Connection Online
March 30, 2011
- When the diagnosis came - Hodgkins lymphoma - five years ago, Hicks, a self-described type A personality and retired Army aviator went into
- Drawing from the very place that gave him strength as he battled the disease, Hicks pondered the ways to connect fellow cancer patients with
- Since their reunion, the trio have made it their life ambition to bring the comfort Hicks found online to all those faced with cancer, wheth
- The social media website, similar to that of Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIn, allows users to create a profile, chat, join groups, read blogs,
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--Jody Hicks was looking for a battle buddy.
When the diagnosis came - Hodgkins lymphoma - five years ago, Hicks, a self-described type A personality and retired Army aviator went into control mode.
"I immediately tried to take control of something you don't have any control over," Hicks said.
Poring over medical research and data on the Internet, Hicks mostly scared himself with the "what ifs" and uncertainties of his diagnosis. It wasn't until he stumbled across the writings of other patients and survivors online - his battle buddies against cancer - that he began to find a reprieve from his anxiety.
"What I found solace in was other people who had gone through the disease and posted their blog on the Internet," Hicks said.
As he triumphed over the disease, Hicks sought to make something of his second chance at life.
"You kind of feel feeble as a cancer survivor, you want to do something, but there's not much you can do that somebody's not already done," Hicks said.
Drawing from the very place that gave him strength as he battled the disease, Hicks pondered the ways to connect fellow cancer patients with the resources he found online. When he came to work with fellow retired Army aviator Chris Perry two years ago, in the course of reminiscing about their flying days in the early 1990s at Fort Campbell, Ky., he mentioned his fight with cancer, and his idea. Six months later, another Army aviator from their Fort Campbell days Bob Price came to work for Perry, with an expertise in social networking and marketing, just what the duo needed to get their idea off the ground. Since their reunion, the trio have made it their life ambition to bring the comfort Hicks found online to all those faced with cancer, whether they are currently struggling with the disease, call themselves a survivor, or have a loved one with the diagnosis, through P2P Cancer Survivors, a new non-profit organization that brings together those touched by cancer through social media.
"My thought was to put people together so they can just talk," Hicks said. "It's just talking about what you're going through because most of the healing and most of the fight during cancer is in your brain."
The social media website, similar to that of Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIn, allows users to create a profile, chat, join groups, read blogs, share information and check out upcoming events in the area, all the while allowing for those touched by cancer, no matter what kind, to connect with each other.
"I don't care if you're a cancer survivor or you were just diagnosed, you go there and get some type of relief," Price said.
With all three of them affected by cancer in some way, the non-profit aims to turn a highly profitable idea - social media - and use it for the greater good. Ninety percent of all proceeds the organization receives will go back into the cancer community, to the American Cancer Society, Livestrong and the Clearview Cancer Institute, for treatment and research.
"We've all done what we're going to do," Perry said. "We're all at that point in our lives and career that we just want to give back and do something good for the community."
In addition to the website, the group is also in the process of creating an inspirational e-magazine, CANSURVIVE, for its members.
"It's really going to be about survivors and survivors' stories," Price said. "It won't always be great stories, because all endings aren't happy. And sometimes, faced with that end of life path, learning from someone else that went before you and how they did it is just as important as wake up tomorrow and the rainbow's out. Helping that person deal with their path is just as important as a different ending for someone else."
Whatever the ending, it is the journey that binds those affected by cancer together that the founders hope will bring people to the website to share stories of encouragement and loss, friendship, courage and strength. United by the common bond of cancer, the relationship between the 122 members currently registered on the site is unbreakable.
"It's very strong," Hicks said of the camaraderie between those that have cancer. "I would equate it to being as strong as someone that you've gone into battle with. It's the same type of connection that you had."
To learn more about P2P Cancer Survivors, visit www.p2pcancersurvivors.org.