Cancer leaves a lasting mark on an individual, even for those who live with the promise of survival. The unfortunate reality is rooted in coping with the thought of it returning, which often causes depression and anxiety. This inspired Amy Ohm to create an online community known as TreatmentDiaries.com, to support people living with any type of chronic illness along with those who care and advocate for them.
In 2004, the 41-year old was diagnosed with melanoma, a term she had never heard before, she said. In an attempt to calm her fears, she said she searched the Internet to learn more about the stage-three skin cancer she was up against.
“What I found was a lot of negative news,” recalled Ohm. “There was not a lot of good information about the prospective of beating the odds. I think I went into denial after that. It took me a few days before I could even accept the diagnosis.”
Today, Ohm considers herself lucky. Seven years after the jarring diagnosis, she is cancer free. But there is something about battling a chronic illness that she says has never left her.
“It’s constantly something that’s always on the top of my mind,” said Ohm, who has experienced reoccurrences of skin cancer but nothing as severe as the melanoma she fought in 2004. “Once you’ve had an illness, you’re always worried it will come back. It’s something that becomes a part of you.”
Understanding first-hand the amount of support those dealing with complex medical conditions need, Ohm said she has created a Web site that can “build a support network for those who need more than a physical support circle, or want a little more anonymity, or just need support on a more regular basis.”
Members turn to her site to share their thoughts about the medical battles they’re fighting privately or publicly through condition-specific web pages that connect members sharing similar medical struggles.
“It’s nice to be able to vent to others who understand your situation, because sometimes you don’t want to tire out your family,” said Janet Palutke, a hospital administrative director who uses the site and recommends it to her patients at Valley Health Winchester Medical Center.
TreatmentDiaries.com is a unique online resource, because it provides real information exchange between real people coping with or caring for anyone with a chronic illness or rare disease. It fills the everyday needs of those learning to cope with a condition that never goes away. It’s a community of people who understand exactly what you are going through and who become inspired by helping others get through the day, even when they don’t feel well.
This virtual support group is free and always available; offering a safe place to anonymously keep multiple diaries of your daily journey, across more than one condition – either privately or shared out with others, allowing for shared coping strategies, support for others and the exchange of information.
Six months after its launch, Ohm said thousands of people from the U.S. to New Zealand to Nigeria are sharing stories and support on TreatmentDiaries.com.
“The reaction of people who are embracing the Web site is so rewarding,” said Ohm, who manages it from Berryville, Virginia. “I feel like this is my purpose. Cancer happened to me for a reason.” She said she believes her survival has helped give her the purpose to share her story and provide hope to others in need of genuine connections.
One user, who recently signed-up said she received a message from one of the oldest living survivors of the complex heart disease that her 22-month old is currently fighting. “Just knowing there are adults living with this heart disease and living with a good quality of life is encouraging. I’m grateful for the ability to connect with this community,” She’s not alone.
“I’m always surprised to see more and more people signing-up every day,” said a member who asked to be identified by her user name, “gmama.” She said she stumbled across the website while researching a muscle disease her mom was diagnosed with last year.
“I think it has lasting appeal. I have six kids who all have their own medical issues and as you get older, you start having to deal with things too that you may want to talk to others about who can relate. The people on there are really great. There are a handful of people I talk to everyday who I really feel like are my friends,” she said.
TreatmentDiaries.com is dedicated to the needs of all types of users including; individual patients, caregivers, family members and advocates. We promote the importance of keeping a diary of life changing experiences and the significance of engaging in behaviors and activities which promote health, mental wellness and the self-management of chronic conditions.
TreatmentDiaries.com was inspired by real stories of people struggling with chronic conditions and in desperate need of on-going support at every stage of an illness through wellness! Our goal is to connect those facing similar circumstances and facilitate the sharing of valuable information and support.
“We want people to make authentic, quality, lifelong, and if they wish anonymous connections, and inspire others to live life to the fullest, no matter what their condition” said Ohm, co-founder of TreatmentDiaries.com.
For more information
- Telephone: 540.955.8070
- Website: www.treatmentdiaries.com