I love my job working on the Macmillan Online Community. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. Every day there’s something new and exciting happening. One of the absolutely brilliant things about this job is to see new people coming in and there can be such a big turnaround. 24 hours later they will be posting things saying, ‘I can’t believe I found this place – it’s amazing, you’ve really helped me.’
We have a group of volunteers, our community champions, helping us to run the site. These are all people who have been active on the community for a long time. All of them have their own cancer experience. They are like our super users. They know what to expect, they know the kind of situation that people are in who have just been diagnosed. They know that it’s knocked them sideways.
The Online Community offers peer support for people affected by cancer. It is made up of around 100 different groups. So each group is a community. The groups are roughly organised into cancer types and experiences. Cancer type is self-explanatory, and cancer experience might be things like bereaved groups, carers, friends and family – that kind of support. It’s all about people with experience of cancer supporting each other. So you would be able to talk to other people who have maybe been through similar things as you. They might have the same diagnosis, or be in a similar situation. It makes people feel less alone.
I think it’s incredibly helpful for people to talk to others who have been through a similar experience themselves. I think it makes them feel more supported, and it certainly makes them feel more informed. The Online Community is a busy place and last year there were 14,000 new topics and over 100,000 replies. I think one of the best things about the Online Community is that it’s open 24/7. You could log on anytime, day or night, and be pretty sure that there’s going to be someone else online to talk to.
Another great thing is that there are lots of groups for rarer cancers too, as well as the bigger groups, such as the breast cancer group. We think it’s really important to have somewhere to actively promote the less busy groups for rarer cancers – because those are the groups that people need to find more.