- Today’s Cancer Warrior is Mailet Lopez of I Had Cancer, a social support network founded just six months ago. With almost 6000 members representing over 60 different countries, I Had Cancer’s mission is to provide an online community for anyone touched by cancer and looking for information from others who have walked in their shoes.
Mailet’s story is not atypical, unfortunately. She was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer in 2008 when she was only 33 years old. Although she had a strong network of supportive family and friends, she didn’t have anyone to talk to who really understood what she was experiencing. When she did talk to other cancer survivors, she still felt isolated. Their age and experiences were different from hers and they hadn’t dealt with issues that troubled her, such as reproductive and work concerns.
The isolation of her experience left Mailet feeling angry and very alone. There were things she couldn’t share with her family and friends because they couldn’t understand. She looked to the Internet, but was overwhelmed by an avalanche of information. Making it worse, she felt pressured to make a quick decision about her treatment.
At that very moment, a chance meeting changed everything. She was connected to a one-year survivor who told her about a low dose chemo regime which Mailet discussed with her doctor. She made the decision to pursue that course of treatment and it was very successful. She was able to work and moved forward with her mantra, “I had cancer and I’m not going to die.”
After her treatment, Mailet gave back by speaking to other patients seeking information about her chemo. That led to a blog, which led to the idea of a community with the ability to create connections between people with the same cancers, concerns, ages, geographic area, etc. To further the experience, I Had Cancer is structured to allow general discussions as well as more private, members-only, sharing.
Since its inception, I Had Cancer has connected survivors, fighters and supporters/caregivers. “There was someone who joined who was 800 miles away from his closest relatives. He immediately got connected to someone with his cancer and they have been sharing ever since. He’s no longer alone,” Mailet is proud to say.
“Creating this site is my gift of cancer,” Mailet reveals. “I am one of those people who believe things happen for a reason. Because I have the equipment to make things come out of this, by leveraging my business experience, I was able to create I Had Cancer.” As it is for so many of us, the gift is in being able to give back. “I wish it had been around for me, it would have made life easier. Now, I have an immense sense of joy seeing others connect and share information.”
Thank you Mailet for sharing your story and good luck with the site!
Photo courtesy of I Had Cancer
Survival > Existence,