Don’t Ride the Struggle Bus Alone: Tap Into The Power of Community
Posted: October 18, 2021
Friends, family, caring medical staff, other cancer thrivers - all can be passengers on your struggle-bus ride, and community makes the wheels on the bus go round and round. But what does it mean to have community, and why is it so integral to your cancer experience?
What is a community?
Is it what you pay your neighborhood HOA fees to be part of? Is it your group text that keeps blowing up while you’re in the zone? Is it the people who march alongside you for justice?
Yes. All of that.
A community is a group of people who share something in common, often feeling a sense of belonging or interpersonal connection with one another.
Connecting with people who have shared experiences can be beneficial when going through something traumatic such as a cancer diagnosis. Mutual understanding, tips, and empathy from fellow thrivers or caregivers are better than what any scary Reddit thread can provide.
Healthy communities practice vulnerability, interaction, and empathy.
Emotional support is essential for healing.
Whether you’re team glass-half-full or struggle with emotional distress, finding others to lean on in a community is key to processing those complicated feels.
Emotional support can come from family, friends, or even empathetic strangers who are willing to invest time with you. Keyword: willing. Not everyone will be the best support for you (like friends who ghost you or medical professionals who don’t have your best interest in mind).
Support does more than produce good vibes -- it may even help with healing. According to Elizabeth Bouchard, MA, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, cancer patients who have a sound support system may even have better outcomes.
Love is the best medicine (okay, well, and whatever else is in your treatment plan).
Community fosters much-needed human connection.
We love emotional support animals as much as the next dog mom, but there’s something unique about our bond with other people.
Human connection and being able to relate to someone on a deeper level can help you feel less alone. Knowing someone else is going through a similar experience reminds you this bus route has more than one stop.
Navigating the Cancer Map
Support from a community makes it a little easier for cancer thrivers or caregivers to navigate the various routes of a cancer diagnosis. There is so much unknown, that understanding someone else’s path - for better or worse - creates a sense of assurance in our minds.
Potential cancer outcomes should always be discussed with your medical team (and not Dr. Google).
Finding your tribe(s) can help you feel more prepared for whatever the future may bring you.
Communities can help reduce feelings of stress, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, or bad medical experiences. The best communities allow a judgment-free space for sharing things like:
Feelings (like with the buddhi social support tool)
Hint: Drop your supporters a link to our buddhi shop for gift ideas!
Be selective and find the welcoming communities.
Protect your peace and your people. When it comes to cancer-support communities, the wrong people can suck all the warm vibes in the world away. Steer clear from the “Positivity Pushers” and “Cancer Muggles” who feed off of your diagnosis for the wrong reasons (aka their clout).
Outside of buddhi, lots of online or in-person communities provide support and connection for thrivers and caregivers around the world.
Some of our favorite communities (online and IRL):
Hip Hop Happy Hour (on Instagram)
Local support group offerings such as Gilda’s Club in Chicago
Or nonprofit services and religious institutions (e.g., churches)
We may be biased, but the emergence of online communities is transforming the way people “do” cancer. These groups and tools allow thrivers and caregivers to engage in conversations and meet diverse friends when and where it’s convenient. No crappy hospital basement support groups are needed.
At buddhi, we’re rooting for you no matter where you find community. We’d love to have you join in on the chatter, though!