Social Networking in the Time of Crisis

Nancy Muller Health Pro
  • One of my best friends - a girlfriend in high school and later one of my roommates in college - recently learned that a rare but virulent cancer has returned and with a rage. Eager to offer Martha comfort and encouragement from afar as she underwent surgery at M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, I found myself escorted online to her personalized web site at www. There, I found I can track the course of her treatment and remain in touch through her recovery. Through her site, I can feel intimately connected to Martha and her family through her posts to all of us visiting the site and leaving our prayers and good wishes for her. There's a journal section where Martha has entered background information on her cancer and now gives frequent updates on her condition. I can even choose to be alerted, as I have, by email every time she makes a new journal entry. This allows her to conserve her strength and energy for her health needs, while be sustained emotionally by all of us friends.

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    CaringBridge® was created twelve years ago when a friend of the founder gave birth to a premature baby and needed help communicating with her family and friends.  Instead of making dozens of repetitive phone calls for her friend, CaringBridge was created. No doubt, it represents one of the first electronic social networks. Today, over 155,000 CaringBridge sites have been launched, and in the last 12 months alone over 30 million visitors have reportedly logged on to offer emotional and social support during health crises of loved ones. Since its inception, nearly one billion visits have cumulatively been made to these personal web sites. The electronic community is operative in all 50 states and more than 215 countries and territories across the globe. It is a 501(c )(3) not for profit corporation that functions as a web service of connectivity among people during a critical illness, treatment or recovery. Warm in design, brilliantly simple, and easy to navigate, the organization's site was prominently featured recently1 on CNN Health.


    We all need caring and connection. When confronted with overwhelming problems we can't explain or solve by ourselves, we need the understanding, empathy, and advice of others as we seek suggestions, experience-based counsel, or simply an ear. This is how we are propelled forward as humans to persevere through any adversity, whether it is life-threatening or chronic, temporary or permanent.


    Recently at NAFC we completed a nationwide, online survey of women ages 40 - 65 with symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB).  Among the findings, was the revelation that half (49%) of all such patients don't believe they will EVER completely manage their OAB symptoms of urgency and frequency threatening  their freedom and quality of life.


    That's why places like HealthCentral exist on the web, to be a resource and a source of connectivity. Not unlike CaringBridge, we offer a forum where visitors can privately pose questions, or express concerns, and exchange advice. To participate, you must register with us and agree to have your postings monitored so that only appropriate exchanges take place in this otherwise public domain. If you feel you can benefit or help others with their challenges of bladder and bowel control problems, browse our Incontinence website, learn from our experts, and be a part of a welcoming group.


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    Read more about NAFC's OAB survey results - you may find yourself mirrored in the lives of the respondents. And get connected with others to help you.


    Visit the NAFC Website for more information on who we are and what we do.


    Nancy Muller

    July 14, 2009



    1 Accessed at on June 17, 2009



Published On: July 29, 2009