FRIEND REQUEST – from social network to support network

New research released by Macmillan Cancer Support, ahead of World Cancer Day on 4th February, shows that vast numbers of women are using social media as a way of boosting their self-esteem while going through cancer treatment.

  • More than 370,000 women with cancer are turning to social media during cancer treatment and recovery, according to a new study
  • Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that over 90,000 UK women found using social media during cancer boosted their self-esteem with 38 per cent of them stating that they ‘felt like they could be themselves again’ online New research released ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4th) when Macmillan is highlighting the impact that little acts of kindness can have on those living with cancer
  • Macmillan’s Online Community is available 24 hours a day for those seeking support

The charity’s latest research found that more than 1 in 4 women (27%) going through cancer treatment or recovery are now using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as traditional methods such as speaking to friends and family or health professionals. Of those gaining a self-esteem boost from using social media, more than 1 in 3 (35%) say that social media takes their mind off their illness and half (50%) say that the networks help restore some normalcy into their lives with cancer. 

Despite reports claiming that social media has had a negative impact on self-esteem, it appears that for those living with cancer, speaking to people via social media platforms has given them a boost. Almost a quarter (24%) of women who used social media say that one or more digital platforms have improved their self-esteem, and more than half of these (58%) say following the experiences of more people with cancer makes them feel stronger.

These findings follow on from research by Macmillan Cancer Support which showed that 1 in 6 (15%) people who have or have had cancer would rather talk to friends and family about health issues online or on social media than in person [iv]. This is supported by stats which show that more than two thirds (68%) of those whose self-esteem was boosted say that social media was a good source of practical and/or emotional advice.

These findings demonstrate the ways in which little acts of kindness – such as a simple message or a positive comment – can help give a boost to those living with cancer.

For many it seems social media has provided a much-needed life line, as nearly two thirds (65%) of women who gained self-esteem from using social media during their cancer experience said the messages from other people help give them courage to keep going and 2 in 5 (44%) said the social networks also help them to feel less alone.

For others, the sites are a welcome distraction from their health concerns, with more than third saying they are a place where they can be themselves again (38%).

Audrey Allan, 36, from Glasgow has undergone breast cancer treatment, said: “After I was diagnosed I started to blog about cancer and share what I was going through on Instagram. Now I’ve been in touch with so many people going through the same experience – people as far away as America and Mexico. Making these connections has really helped me cope with the stress of cancer and made me feel less alone. The support and encouragement I received through my Instagram page has kept me going through this whole rollercoaster.”

Ms Dany Bell, Treatment and Recovery Specialist Advisor at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “These findings ahead of World Cancer Day show that for many, life with cancer is still life and being able to share their cancer journey or speak to others who are going through something similar can offer a much-needed support system.”

For information and support, go to


Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.