April 29, 2012 - No Comments!

Social Media as Healing

Over the past several years I have become, what I like to think, an expert in social media. I teach classes, consult with small businesses, develop brands, and launch books using integrated digital media strategies. I’ve been very focused on using it as a vehicle for helping people and businesses optimize their success. And I’ve never really been involved in social media as a fun, personal thing, with the exception of Facebook a little bit. Everything I’ve done with Facebook, twitter, and Linkedin has been with a very specific purpose.

Until now.

My sister-in-law, Manira “Sam” David, was recently diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer. Of course it was such a shock to our whole family, and to all those close to her. If you’ve ever had a trauma such as this happen to a family member or friend, you know the series of emotions that pass through your mind and heart very quickly: concern, confusion, anger, more concern, fear, helplessness.

And you ask yourself the questions: What do I do? How can I help? When should I call? What’s happening? You don’t want to call if she doesn’t feel up to talking, or if a lot of others are calling, too. If you’re in a different city, like I am, then you can’t go visit, or sit with her during a chemo treatment.

From Day 1, Sam started posting her progress and news about her treatments and doctor visits on Facebook. Every time there was an update, there was a post. With each chemo treatment I was able to see how she responded, if she did well, if she was sick. She documented the wonderful support system she had at work, when and if she was able to work, if the chemo was having the desired effect.  And she also had a text campaign going as well, sending a text update after each treatment or doctor visit.

At one point, when she knew she would start losing her hair, instead of asking everyone to shave their head, too, Sam instead asked that everyone send her a lock of hair for her scrapbook. The hair thing was especially traumatic for her and for all of us that know her. I’ve known Sam for over 30 years, and she’s only ever had very long, very thick, very gorgeous hair.  We all knew that might be the worst part for her.

But instead of not posting about it, or trying to hide it, she documented the whole process. It was beautiful! I saw a big, bright smile instead of someone feeling sorry for herself.

At first, I was selfishly happy to be able to see her progress and updates without having to worry about when to call. And, I was also happy to be able join the many, many comments of encouragement and love.  But then it dawned on me, that Sam was able to use a social media and text “campaign”, so to speak, to help her healing process. It took bravery and courage to publicize her sickness, every detail, for the world to see. With every post, came tons of comments, words of encouragement, love, and prayer. It seemed to me that it allowed Sam to receive all this good energy, and it allowed all of us who care so much to feel like we were contributing in some small way to making her feel better and offer support. What a beautiful use of social media. There are many Web sites out there where you can create a page and where people can go for updates, but with everyone on Facebook, and with a text-enabled smart phone, what better way to communicate?

Sam, you’re brilliant! You are going to come out of this strong and healthy. And I think that everyone who knows you appreciates, like I do, that we are able to share in your journey. It’s not quite over yet, but I look forward to hearing about the next steps. Thank you. I think your courage and bravery will be an inspiration to others. And from one social media professional to another...great job with that!

Published by: Connie Glover in Social Media

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