Electronic Resources and Connection During COVID-19
My new friend, Marianne Sarcich, has spent a great deal of effort and time putting together an amazing list of resources for anyone who has cancer and updates her list of resources with new information regularly. Here's a snapshot of some of the resources she has collected and I found valuable and wanted to share with this community. This is only a small compilation of the resources that are currently available.
Cancer specific resources
- A Fresh Chapter - Connect online with the cancer community through the AFC Live series.
- American Breast Cancer Foundation - Has information on all stages of breast cancer in an easy-to-understand format and can be a good resource to help family and friends understand the disease.
- American Cancer Society - You can call the American Cancer Society 24/7, 7 days a week to talk to an information cancer specialist and get connected to resources in your area.
- BreastCancer.Org - Updated information on many breast cancer topic.
- Cancer Support Community - Provides online cancer information as well as a cancer support helpline.
In addition to the cancer-specific resources shared above, she has also pulled together sources for mental health, connection & community. I have highlighted a few of the resources she found in each of these categories.
Mind and body
Mental health support is so important especially during these uncertain and challenging times. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is one organization that offers many support services including one-on-one support, group support, and has a call center available to help those who are struggling or in crisis.
Another resource that Marianne identified to help relieve stress and anxiety is the use of meditation apps. Calm.com is an app that makes meditation easy to do on your own and has both free and for-pay meditations. Insight Timer is another excellent meditation app.
Staying active can have multiple benefits for those living with advanced breast cancer. Making time to take a walk or finding an online yoga or dance class can be helpful. Yoga4cancer is one nonprofit that uses a specialized yoga method tailored for specific physical/emotional needs left by cancer and cancer treatments.
Connection & community
Connecting with others is so important. One way to do this is by virtual get-togethers or hanging out with friends online. A coffee chat, happy hour, or book club are just a few options. There are several platforms you can use to connect including Zoom, FaceTime, Google, Hangouts, and Skype.
If you are looking for entertainment or want to learn something new, you could consider resources that help you develop a new hobby or skill. Marianne found several online art classes and art therapy projects. She also mentioned virtual baking or cooking classes to help you improve your culinary skills. Or for those who don't want to try something new, the Houseparty app lets you connect with friends and play different trivia games.
Give feedback to help organizations improve
As most of you will likely conclude, different organizations will be able to offer different things. As the pandemic has affected everyone, I think most companies are looking at what could be done electronically, what offerings are still relevant and what the community needs. I've seen different organizations approach this question differently and I do think it is important to remind all of you that each and every one of these organizations needs detailed feedback as to what is working and what isn't. I also think that we will see some things stay electronic, but we shall soon see what shakes out.
Advanced breast cancer community needs online resources and support
The main thing that is so important to me and so many other advocates is that people get what they need when they need it. I shared some of the list of organizations that Marianne put together who are providing services regardless of location. I am aware of other options here in Miami, where I live, options that would be accessible for locals. These are great examples of options that each of you can share with others in this community. Sometimes social workers are aware of some of these resources, but many aren't. I've shared the list of resources that I included in this post with the social workers at my cancer center and I would encourage each of you to do the same.
Metastatic breast cancer and the pandemic
I've been living with MBC for three years in 2020 and while I've seen so many people go out of their way to help others, the outpouring of love and help in a variety of ways during this pandemic has blown me away. Through my husband and family and friends, I have heard about the struggles that for-profit companies are dealing with. Non-profits, who rely on donations and the kindness of strangers, are struggling even more. I keep hearing about people I know well being laid off and not sure about what happens next.
And yet, during this time of anxiety, worry and struggle, I see the contributions of people in and outside of the metastatic community just pouring in. It warms my heart and reminds me that there is good in the world. It may be harder to see the good, we might have to look a little harder, and there are some selfish people out there who think that it's ok to sacrifice the elderly and the sick, but it's there.
How can you support someone else today?
What did you think of the resources in Marianne's list?
Are there advocacy goals you would like to accomplish in 2020, despite the pandemic?
Please comment and share below any other resources you have found helpful!
Editor’s note: This article was published on July 22, 2020. Further developments in what we know about COVID-19 are continuously emerging. For more information about COVID-19 and strategies for coping, visit Self-Care in Uncertain Times.
Caregivers: Do you practice self-care?