Can-Did: The Cancer Support Network

Bulgarian Ambassador, Jeny Rasheva on founding the cancer support network, Can-Did.

 

One Young World has this unexplainable ability to wake people up and make them think. Everyone who has attended at least one of the Summits knows what I am talking about. You’ve all heard the stories of the amazing people who are already doing inspiring things, you’ve discussed some rather scary global issues, you’ve made pledges together with more than 1,000 people on actions you are going to take, and then you leave the Summit. You are inspired. You start thinking about what you can actually do. You tell your friends and family about it, you talk to other Ambassadors and all of a sudden it starts to become real. Then comes the time when you want to turn those thoughts into action. That’s what happened to me.

When I left Pittsburgh back in October 2012, I was determined not to find myself in the situation where I come up with an idea for positive change and then say “Yes, it would be nice…Maybe one day.” I heard too much about the harsh reality of the world and at the same time I was too inspired to let myself say this. I thought of the Plenary Session that touched me the most – the one on Global Health. Partly because of personal experiences and partly because I am fascinated by medicine, I am particularly passionate about cancer treatment.

 

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               (Above: Jeny Rasheva at the Opening Ceremony in Pittsburgh last year) 

 

Cancer is one of those subjects that you can talk about with ease if neither you nor your loved ones have suffered from it. It has become so common that people take it as part of everyday life. You hear that someone has passed away from cancer and you say “Oh no” but in your head you say that this must have been expected due to the nature of the disease. Then you tell yourself “One day they will find a cure for it” and you go on with your everyday life.

That’s what you do if you haven’t been affected by it, directly or indirectly. If you have, however, things are a bit different. You know what it was like when this person in your family was first diagnosed and you know what they had to go through. You know how their smile looked paler even if they were trying to put on a brave face. You know about the uncertainty they had to face every day and that great hope that would come from the smallest sign of improvement. What you don’t know is what was going through their head. Only someone who’s had it would know. I can only guess what might be going through the mind of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Though what I don’t need to guess is that those thoughts can be scary and sometimes self-destructive.

Patients are not always well informed about the nature of the disease, the treatment options and the support they can get. The ones diagnosed with cancer often give up just because of the presumption that there’s no cure or that it’s too late for something to be done. Sometimes one’s pre-existing beliefs around the disease lead to psychological breakdown and make the battle with cancer even more difficult. I’ve been lucky enough to hear many stories of people who have successfully fought the disease and I’ve seen the positive effect of sharing those stories with cancer sufferers.

That’s why I decided to create an online platform for people who, in one way or another, have been affected by cancer. I started building Can-Did – a social network, where people can use blogs, discussions and private messaging to share information around the disease and success stories about beating cancer. The website is also for those who have friends or family affected by it or just supporters of the idea that cancer can be beaten.

Registering on the website is easy and takes no more than one minute. When people register they can do this as a supporter/believer, friend/relative, fighter or a survivor. They can create a profile, tell their story, share updates, add friends and connect with like-minded people. Once they have logged-in, they can comment on the blog posts, create posts themselves and start their own discussions or message other users privately. Can-Did users can discuss topics they are interested in, get advice on problems they might have or share tips for success. If users identify someone who could benefit from their help by hearing about their experience or someone who could help them with their own experience, they are encouraged to talk to them because such relationships are priceless and can save lives!

The website went live on 1 May 2013 and started attracting its first members. I started by posting my story around the subject and had someone else share their experience shortly after that. Their post is about positive thinking and I can see some good discussions developing around it. I am looking forward to seeing what’s on people’s minds; thoughts, tips, concerns, positive stories or anything else they want to share. Can-Did evolves every day and I am excited to see the activity on the website increasing. The more comments, posts and discussions there are the bigger the effect it will have.

Can-Did’s services are free for everyone. The platform was created entirely on a voluntary basis and all costs have been covered by personal funds. However, help from professionals (doctors/psychologists) who are willing to volunteer some time and expertise, or from anyone who would like to get involved and help with the website, is more than welcome.

Can-Did was created to bring about positive change and I am convinced that with the support of like-minded people this mission will be accomplished. I’ve made a pledge to myself: I will do whatever I can to make this website grow and connect more people. If you are reading this and in any way identify even with just a small part of it, then please do visit Can-Did and share your thoughts. Share your questions and opinions, your concerns and ideas, and pass it on to other people. Remember that the success stories of fighting cancer need to be spread because someone out there needs to hear them.

 

Visit the Can-Did website here: http://www.can-did.org/

Can-Did is now on Facebook, you can help support Jeny's work with a like and a share.

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