Wisdo is an online community assisting people as they move through the challenges of serious illnesses by providing wisdom from people who have already faced those challenges. Although Wisdo does not focus exclusively on cancer, it does include support communities for people with breast or prostate cancer and will soon expand into more than 15 different types of cancer.

“Wisdo helps people take on life’s greatest challenges by equipping them with wisdom from those who’ve been there,” Boaz Gaon, CEO and Director of Communities at Wisdo.com in Mountain View, California, said in an interview with Oncology Nurse Advisor.

“Our community members identify the major ‘steps’ that were part of their own journey through a certain life challenge or opportunity, and then they add specific insights (tips, reflections, etc) to help others know what to expect and never feel lonely,” he said.

A major benefit of social media is that it is accessible from anywhere and at any time, allowing patients, family members, and health care providers to bypass the energy, emotions, and time spent seeking support in person.

“Connecting with others who understand your fears, questions, anxieties, side effects, etc, is one of the most valuable elements of social media platforms,” Tinianov said. “And if you’re anxious about an upcoming scan and unable to sleep at 3 AM, you will likely find company and comfort online.”

Tinianov also noted that for patients who feel uncomfortable sharing in a face-to-face forum, social media platforms can help them find the support they need. But the fact that connections are made virtually does not diminish their value or importance.

“When connections made via social media are powerful, people inevitably extend their relationships offline, either through email, phone calls, or face-to-face interaction,” she said.

In addition to overcoming fear and loneliness, these outlets can augment clinical advice by providing insights and suggestions to patients with cancer that they might not receive otherwise.

“When we asked breast cancer survivors and their family members to identify the major steps that make up the breast cancer experience, they suggested steps like ‘Cutting your hair before chemotherapy, ‘Informing your employer about your diagnosis,’ and ‘Going back to work after treatment,” Gaon explained. “This wisdom is usually found and shared online more than in official pamphlets and clinical textbooks.”

Nurses, Nurse Navigators, and Social Media Platforms

Some social media platforms can benefit the cancer community beyond patients. Nurses and nurse navigators can use the outlets to improve their comprehension of their patients.

“Whether [nurses and nurse navigators] join the conversation or just listen in to the dialogue, a better understanding of the concerns, fears, goals, challenges, and successes of cancer patients and their families helps to provide additional whole-person context,” Tinianov said.

Not only can nurses and nurse navigators learn about their patients through participation in social media platforms, but they can also provide important insights to these communities.

“Nurses are wisdom personified,” Gaon said. “They know that there is more to being a patient than just going through the clinical steps of an illness. Nurses provide practical, emotional, and physical support when you need it the most. They are the backbone of health care.”