Friends and family of someone with a cancer diagnosis often feel frustrated because they don’t know how to help. You might be surprised to find out that making someone feel better and improving their health can be simple: Let them know that you’re thinking about them.
Current research shows that when you send a message to someone, you:
- put them in a better mood, and
- can improve their physical health.
Researchers at the University of Arizona found that cancer patients with a strong support network are less likely to suffer from loneliness, depression, anxiety, and stress. Patients who feel supported by their friends and family have better health improvements.
Creating a Flower
Thoughtful messages give patients the kind of encouragement they need to feel better, mentally and physically. A core design choice for Flower is about combining photos, videos, recordings, and notes. We’re building Flower so that you and your friends can mix and match media to create a unique message of support. Using the “Create a Flower” and “Co-Creators” features, you and anyone you add to the flower can create a slideshow of photos, recordings, and messages.
Flower will also let friends and family offer other forms of support through “I Can Offer” but even something as simple as sending a message can have positive health benefits.
What makes people feel supported?
As part of our user research, we talked to cancer patients about what kinds of messages made them feel the most supported. We came up with five main types of supportive messages:
- An update. Cancer patients often worry about their responsibilities, even if other people have stepped in to help out. Reassure them with an update about family members, activities, projects, or pets that they might be concerned about.
- A reminder of a happy memory. Patients don’t always want to talk about their health. Sometimes being supportive means helping them think about other things, like re-telling a good story about the two of you.
- A request for advice. It’s difficult to always be the one asking for help. One way to make patients feel supported is to ask them to help you in solving a problem.
- A little humor. Cancer is a serious disease and it requires a lot of attention and thought from patients and their friends and family. Sometimes the best way to be supportive is to share a joke or a funny picture to help lighten the mood.
- A “just thinking of you” message. Whether it’s a video of cats, a picture from your life, a song you both enjoy, or just a short text, patients feel supported when you remind them that you’re rooting for them.
You’ll be able to use Flower to tell someone that they are important to you and when you do, you could actually improve their health.
Kelly, S. (2015). Social support of cancer patients and their caregivers [Internal Company Document]. Dogpatch Technology, Inc., San Francisco, CA
Segrin, C., Badger, T., and Pasvogel, A. (2015). Loneliness and emotional support predict physical and psychological distress in Latinas with breast cancer and their supportive partners, The Open Psychology Journal, 8(Suppl 2-M8), 105-112.