Last month Gina, one of our Online Community Champions, shared with the Community part of her cancer journey, specifically interactions with family, friends and colleagues. The blog was called “Most of us just want normality!”, and if you haven’t already read it, it makes for a really thought provoking read.

Gina’s back this week to tell us how she discovered the Online Community when she most needed it, and how it’s helped her to date. Enjoy!

I got my diagnosis on the last appointment of Maundy Thursday. I left the consultants office in a daze trying to make an understanding of what had just been said and what it would all mean. Initially, when I got the appointment at that time, I felt relief, it meant I would have 4 days off to digest and process what I had been told. To compose myself for having to put the mask in place before work so I did not break down in front of others.

However, within a few hours I found the consultants words and sentences rattling round and round my brain, scrutinising every possible inclination that may or may not have been inferred. I wanted to know what it all meant. I wanted answers and I wanted to know what to expect.

I had no one that I knew of that had been diagnosed in my peer group to speak to about it. The everyday doctors and consultants would not be available either and the cancer societies I found were all shut for the Easter holiday.

Four long days of nothing, so I did what they all advise you not to do and started to consult with ‘Doctor Google’, after all he is open 24/7. As I frantically searched various key words and read many websites, most of which either went over my head, or made comments about prognosis and treatment that just confused me further, I stumbled across a search that pointed me to the Macmillan Online Community.

I started to read through posts on the site, I found a whole group dedicated to lung cancer. Stories from real life people that had undergone treatment, how it had affected them and how they coped with the side effects. This is what I needed and wanted to know. What would really happen and how it would really affect me. Not just a list of frightening statistics or unfathomable medical talk.

Since joining the Community, I have received so much support and helped support others going through diagnosis and treatment. At first it all seemed a foreign language to me and I could not keep up with the abbreviations. A few months along, I have read such inspiring and encouraging accounts of people’s resilience in the face of adversity. Delighted in stories of long-term survivors, discussed how new treatments are advancing, and consoled those that have seen their loved ones sadly fall along the way.

I was recently asked to join the team as a Community Champion and despite some apprehension, I accepted as I thought what better way could there be to help others by being a gentle guide on their journeys. Whilst lung cancer is the highest diagnosed cancer, the group is quite small in comparison to others. I am unsure why this is, surprisingly it seems that many people have never heard of the Online Community.

I wanted to help make people aware that we are here and encourage anyone affected by cancer to join the Community. It is a safe place that is always accessible even around work hours, where you can connect to others to speak to about your fears, worries, confusion, pain and sometimes despair.

The further good news is that the Macmillan Support Line is now also available 365 days of the year, 8am to 8pm, with the Financial Guides and Energy Advice teams available ‘til 5pm, and the Work Support team 6pm. You can call the Support Line free on 0808 808 0000.If you found yourself in a similar situation to Gina following a diagnosis, why not share it with us in the comments section below.

New to the Online Community? Join our new to the site group - other members will be on hand to point you in the right direction.