Internet to the Rescue; Dealing with a Life-Altering Diagnosis


A few decades ago, if a doctor diagnosed you with some conditions, it seemed like a death pronouncement. They were the only source of information. Seeing an alternative opinion may have been possible but getting another patient with a similar condition for a different perspective was highly impractical if not impossible.

Today, people do not have to suffer a similar fate. The global interconnectedness between one patient and another has offered more avenues for people to reach out to each other. When your healthcare provider diagnoses you with particular conditions, the internet can be a haven. While it is advisable not to self-diagnose using information from the web, connecting with other patients is beneficial.

Power in Numbers

Like in any other profession, doctors are bound by ethical practices. Doctors have to uphold doctor-patient confidentiality and cannot disclose details unless they are a danger to themselves or others. Hence, even if the doctor treats other people with similar conditions as your diagnosis, they cannot reveal that information. Whereas the doctor should hold their silence, the patient is not under similar obligations.

Family is often a great source of support for members struggling with a medical condition. However, their deficiency in knowledge and inability to understand the disease’s first-hand effects can make it harder to cope with a condition. There are forums where patients of a specific disease discuss their day-to-day experiences with the diseases.

Social media sites are handy in connecting people. Sometimes, thinking you are alone in a situation causes so much anxiety impacting the patient’s spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being. Some forums allow a member to narrate their experiences and coping mechanism, discuss treatment plans and most importantly, offer support and encouragement.

The Downsides

Human beings are social, and going online to look for people experiencing a similar struggle has become normal. Though there are benefits to accrue from the connections, not all people have the best intentions. Some are looking for guinea pigs for their selfish motives. Not everyone in those groups is sick; some people are there for emotional and financial extortion. There may be no group for some conditions, and you will have to either create a forum or accept the solo struggles.

Reading about someone else’s journey with a condition similar to yours may create a mental image of expectations, but it is a blurry picture. The expectations can be misleading. Every person will respond differently to the news of a terminal diagnosis. It is essential to understand that the determinants for one person’s condition will vary from one patient to another. Just because something worked for someone does not mean you will experience similar results.