Anonymity plus support is a powerful combination made possible by Web technology.

Anonymity plus support is a powerful combination made possible by Web technology.(WEBSITES PICTURED)For those who prefer anonymity or live in remote areas, Internet discussion boards offer the same core benefits as in-person support groups: "a sense of membership, that you belong," says Melissa Jenkins, community coordinator at, which has one of the Web's most visited breast cancer message boards.

They also give people a chance to ask questions they might never voice in public. "'I want my mojo back—How do I deal with lost libido?' 'How do I feel sexual?' Those questions come up all the time in our chat rooms," says Jenkins. "Sometimes it's easier to talk to strangers."

More about support groups

Choose a message board or other online discussion with the same care you would an in-person support group. Although in this case you may have to take a look around yourself instead of asking so many questions.

Tip for new visitors
Don't take it personally if message board members are slow to open up.

Online communities can be tight-knit, and those logging in for the first time are sometimes scrutinized. "When you enter [a message board], say who you are and what your connection is to breast cancer," advises Jenkins. Veterans of many online forums may be "reluctant to accept new people till they learn more about you."

For more information on finding support, visit our support groups Web guide.