SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Fighting breast cancer

October 16, 2012

Build your own breast cancer army

Support from friends, family and community are an integral tool in the fight against breast cancer. Many are taking their illness to the Internet, creating online support groups on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums.

Laura! Jane! Laura! This went on for a few minutes because Laura forgot to ask Jane what room she was in on the sixth floor. The two went on screaming until they found each other in the hall. Then, it was like something out of a movie, Laura says.

The two hugged, and cried and laughed at the same time. They reached over and touched the tufts of hair on each other’s otherwise-bald heads. Just as everything else they’d shared as “breast cancer sisters” during the past 11 months, at that moment both women shared similar amounts of regrown tufts of hair on their heads.

Breast cancer survivor and lawyer-turned-rock-musician Laura Roppe turned to an online forum the day she got diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. The next day, as if a private prayer had been answered, Jane Barker from Sheffield, U.K., wrote that she had been diagnosed with exactly the same type of breast cancer on the same day. The two also went on to start their chemotherapy treatments on the same day.

While Roppe also had what she called “flesh and blood” friends and family that supported her, she found one of her biggest sources of support online. Roppe, of San Diego, is just one of many people now turning online to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to seek support when a diagnosis of breast cancer is found. Many women are starting online groups to unite all of their friends and family, which makes sharing information easy, fast and effective. It also makes connecting with strangers going through the same thing easier, something that can be a source of both strength and information for women that often feel alone and isolated.

“Just being diagnosed the same day as someone doesn’t ensure a lifelong bond,” Roppe says of Barker. “We were meant to be sisters, though. We bonded over our love for the BBC version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and I called her ‘My dearest Jane.’”

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Fighting breast cancer
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