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  • How the Cancer Community has Benefited from Social Media

    How the Cancer Community has Benefited from Social Media

    While cancer is certainly not a new disease, the new generation of tech savvy volunteers building fund raising, forums and awareness for cancer research is. With over 320 million Facebook profiles, 18 million Twitter users, and 35 million LinkedIn professionals, you can’t deny the power of spreading a message through online social networks. Here are some of the best examples to date:

    #BlameDrewsCancer & #BlameEthansCancer

    Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2009 and decided to publicly challenge the social media community to help find a cure to cancer. His current effort, using the hashtag on Twitter #blamedrewscancer, is currently used as an excuse for anything that goes wrong for Drew’s followers on a day-to-day basis. Drew’s goal is to get sponsorship for each tweet using the hashtag for $1/ tweet. Ethan Zohn, a reality TV star from the CBS show Survivor  has joined Drew’s fundraising efforts. Together, Drew and Ethan have generated over 35,000 blame tweets- with topics varying from medical issues to computer malfunctions and potty training problems.

    Drew Carey gets involved

    Drew Olanoff has also put his Twitter handle, @Drew up for auction to Drew Carey (@DrewFromTV) to raise money for LiveStrong. For each follower @DrewFromTV gets through the end of 2009, he will donate $1 to curing cancer through LiveStrong. Drew Carey’s account currently has over 360,000 followers!


    Yet another social media experiment backing cancer research is the #BeatCancer blog-a-thon. Bloggers and social media users across Twitter and Facebook tagged #BeatCancer to raise one cent per mention over a 24 hour period, with proceeds going to several cancer related non-profits including StandUp2Cancer (more on that below), Alex’s Lemonade, Bright Pink, and Spirit Jump. eBay/Paypal and MillerCoors Brewing funded the donations, with Radian6, SevansStrategy and Slash7 donating their online services. While the #BeatCancer movement ended on October 17th, $70,000 was donated to the non-profits selected and the group received mention in the Guiness Book of World Records.


    Started through a townhall style business marketing concept, the Social Media Club has branched out across the country to raise the word about the effectiveness of social media platforms for business and non-profit use. This includes their fundraising effort, SU2C. SU2C was the first event of its kind to combine traditional media, with powerhouse news sources ABC, NBC, and CBS with social media experts to draw attention to a one night newscast across all three channels. Katie Couric, Brian Williams,  and Charlie Gibson anchored this special telecast on September 5, 2008 with support from other celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron, Scarlett Johansson, Christina Applegate, and Sally Field. Social media participants were asked to follow and tweet/blog/facebook post about the event, which raised over $76 million dollars for the SU2C ‘Dream Team’- five research departments with more than 200 researchers working on expedited forms of treatment for cancer patients.

    Lance Armstrong- LiveStrong

    The Lance Armstrong foundation, also under the moniker LiveStrong, has used social media outreach to provide a cancer support and awareness network. LAF uses popular social sharing sites Flickr and YouTube in addition to the more widely used Facebook and Twitter tags to generate buzz for their community. LAF takes a personal approach with their social media efforts; while most organizations focus on fundraising, Livestrong’s Facebook fan page provides a forum for personal interaction with cancer survivors. While LAF/Livestrong does participate in fundraising outreach, they do so with the support of other community members such as Drew Olanoff. Their main focus, through social media, is providing support and awareness to the cancer community.

    Mayo Clinic & Social Media Outreach

    The Mayo Clinic treats 500,000 patients annually, with approximately 25% of their patients located out of state and in many cases, out of the country. To foster stronger lines of communication with its patients, the Mayo Clinic has adopted an active social media policy to communicate more effectively. The Syndication and Social Media department at the Mayo Clinic frequently posts YouTube videos on a variety of topics, ranging from cancer to the H1N1 virus. With over 1 million views on their YouTube account and 10,000+ Facebook fans, cancer patients, and any patient treated at the Mayo Clinic can interact with specialists hundreds of thousands of miles away with a click of a button. The Mayo Clinic also offers resources online that can be easily found on their site or via search engines, providing free information including podcasts on concerning health issues to those who are not current clinic patients.

    Cancer & Social Media

    Social media has proven to be a successful tool for up and coming non-profits, and an excellent resource for those affected by cancer. Joining a cancer social network like Know Cancer is a way for people to get the support they need, and get connected with others in a similar situation. Another benefit for cancer patients and survivors is to get connected with medical professionals like Dr. Simmeon Jaggernauth, an Oncologist who has embraced social media as a way to connect with those in need. For more information on how you can get involved in Know Cancer’s social media efforts, or to get started in the social media circle yourself, feel free to leave a comment below. We’re happy to provide a community to help you and your loved ones find support.Here are just a few other places you can find us: Know Cancer on Twitter Know Cancer on Facebook Know Cancer on Myspace Know Cancer on StumbleUpon Know Cancer on YouTube Know Cancer on Delicious


    This is a guest post by Dina Riccobono. Dina is the founder of TheFreelancerNetwork, a national agency connecting clients with top online media consultants. She specializes in marketing, event planning and social media as part of TFN. Dina also works with MarketLeverage Interactive Advertising as their Marketing and Social Media Manager. You can find Dina on Twitter.