Health Concerns: How to Keep Family Updated

When Jennifer Wilson Cooper learned she had ovarian cancer, she launched a blog as a way to share her story with others and to make it easy for friends and family to keep up with her progress. Little did she know she'd quickly-and dramatically-expand her circle of friends (you can follow Cooper's journey on her blog, Four Seeds, which is featured in Quality Health's free cancer newsletter and on the site).

People with cancer and other serious diseases used to rely on time-intensive methods, such as personal letters and phone calls, to keep loved ones updated. This is draining, both physically and emotionally, especially when they need to focus all their energy on getting well.

Now, thanks to the Internet, cancer patients have many options for sharing health status updates with others. Like Cooper, you can create your own blog. Or, you can take advantage of the many free (or almost free) online services that facilitate this communication process. Using an online tool makes it a snap to update people who want to know how you or your family member is doing. This method is fast, easy, and efficient; and you can share the same information with a large group at the same time.

These online forums also provide a way for others to support, reassure, and cheer you in a non-intrusive way. When you're not feeling well, you might not be up to a live visitor, but an electronic note of love or encouragement can help you stay connected and feel less isolated.

Most online forums make it simple to create a website or a blog, set up a guestbook for visitors to sign, and post photos. You determine the level of privacy that is most comfortable for you. Many forums even have tools for mobile devices so you can stay connected even when you (or they) are not near a computer.

There are several popular online tools for disseminating updates.

The founders of and designed these sites specifically to connect people who have an illness with friends and family.

In addition to connecting and providing emotional support to people who are ill, the Human Tribe Project also has a fundraising component. Unlike typical disease fundraisers, which funnel donations to research organizations, the Human Tribe Project directs the funds to help individuals cover the costs of medical treatment. and Facebook are general tools for connecting people, but you can also use them to keep others updated on your health status. You can set your privacy settings on both sites to limit who has access to your personal information.

Sources: Web. Web. Web. Web.