Kudos and thanks to Liz Szabo (@LizSzabo on Twitter) from USA Today for her 10/23/12 article "Breast cancer survivor group is a social movement" about the weekly breast cancer social media (hashtag #bcsm on Twitter) tweetchat and online support group. Co-founded by two breast cancer survivors/bloggers Jody Schoger (@jodyms) and Alicia Staley (@stales) a little over a year ago, the group has blossomed into a vibrant community of support for breast cancer patients and their families, caregivers, friends, and many other interested folks. If you're unfamiliar with the lingo, a tweetchat is a virtual meet-up on Twitter at a specified time, often repeated weekly or at some other interval, around a predetermined hashtag, which is a type of metadata. The conversation is often organized around questions or topics posted by the moderator, although tweetchats are by definition unstructured and free-flowing. Here's a more detailed explanation.
The USA Today story emphasizes the power of the community that has arisen out of this online gathering. While it seems improbable that meaningful interaction could really occur over the exchange of 140-character tweets, that is exactly what happens, and the online conversation is deeply-nuanced and powerful. I have been honored to be a guest expert on #bcsm, and I frequently join in the conversation, which occurs most Monday evenings at 9:00 pm Eastern time.
I appreciate Liz Szabo allowing me to be quoted for the article and more importantly for publicizing the existence of the group and the good that it is doing. This is another example of how social media provide opportunities for connection and community that transcends geographical, institutional, and socioeconomic boundaries.