If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and you’re looking for answers, I’ve found a new place where you can go. It’s called “Talk About Health,” and it’s an excellent online resource for anyone touched by cancer.
The organization was founded by Murray Jones. Murray, curiously, has an engineering background, but after talking to him a little while, I could definitely understand why he started this project. In fact, our stories are quite similar, in that we both were caretakers for our fathers, and that experience changed our lives.
Caring for a Father Changes a Son
“My father is a melanoma survivor and I was a caregiver for him,” Murray said. “He had to go through surgery and chemotherapy, and everyone in my family wanted to help, but we had no one to talk to. We had no idea what to do.”
Murray says the experience was one of the most difficult in his life. He tried to educate himself and to seek out helpful resources, but found the process often daunting and frustrating. “It took me years to educate myself on what the issues were, what the possibilities were, and what could be done, and I’m still learning.”
At high risk for melanoma himself because of his family history, Murray grew determined to change things. “I wanted to help,” he says. “I figured there had to be a better way for people to find information and to get personalized support.”
The Beginnings of Talk About Health
Talk About Health isn’t another “cancer forum” where people just talk about their experiences. Rather, it’s a question and answer community that pairs any question with the right person to answer it.
“It’s less about having a conversation and more about providing answers,” Murray says. “We’re creating a database of knowledge that will improve over time.”
Who provides the answers? Serious experts. We’re talking leading hospital surgeons, oncologists, and other medical professionals; university scientific researchers; financial advisors; legal professionals; career and employment experts; psychiatrists; masters of public health; real cancer survivors; yoga experts; and many more-all volunteering their expertise for online members.
“We give people several different perspectives so they can understand,” Murray says. For example, if you ask a question on breast cancer surgery, Talk About Health may pair you up with a surgeon, a counselor, and a survivor who’s been through that surgery. Information from all three is likely to help you understand the issue from various points of view. Staff members continually organize and moderate the content so that other visitors may also benefit.
A Growing Service
In the next five years, Murray hopes to see Talk About Health expand. Right now the site focuses on breast cancer, but he says an ovarian cancer sister site is already in the works.
“I hope to empower people to decide how they would like to be communicated with, who they’d like to meet, and the timing of each step,” Murray said.
Best of all? It’s free. All you have to do is sign up with your email, name, password, and status (patient, survivor, or caregiver). The organization also gives regular online workshops where guests take questions from members. I’m actually going to be giving one of these workshops on Friday November 4, 2011.
In the meantime, if you’d like to try Talk About Health, click on their website below, sign up, and ask your question. Or, you may find an answer is already there.
“No one else out there is combining physician and patient input and organizing it in a way that’s easy to find,” Murray said. “We’re doing that. We’re providing real answers. We don’t want you to feel alone.”
If you’d like to ask your question at Talk About Health, click here, and let me know what you think!