Local woman creates online community for support over shared illness experiences
In this social media age, many people "over-share" and reveal too much information to strangers online. But, for one local woman, she has turned that culture into a positive force.
Amy Ohm created an online home for people dealing with illness to get support and maintain their privacy, and she is getting recognition and support from all over the world.
“I definitely have purpose in my life and I didn't see that coming,” Ohm said.
For Ohm, her purpose came after a cancer diagnosis of Stage 2 Melanoma in 2004.
“I was just desperate for a connection and I had to find it and needed information. And I was angry, really, really angry,” she said.
Afraid to tell her husband and children, Ohm says the first thing she did was Google “Melanoma.”
“I started to read about people who were dying from it and at that very moment I was very focused on finding someone else but it wasn't going to be a friend or family member because I knew they didn't have that experience,” she said.
Eight years later, Ohm is now cancer free. But, her experience inspired her to create "Treatment Diaries." The site connects people who share their conditions in a strictly private way—no names or personally identifiable information is collected. What is shared though, are personal stories about living with illness.
“It's a very intimate and private conversation, you think about the essence of a diary, these are things that are locked up that you wouldn't necessarily say in a forum or chat room,” she said.
There are now 650,000 diaries total: 1,600 conditions and 4,000 new dairies a month. Treatment diaries has partnered with local hospitals like Washington Hospital Center and also the "get well network" to help patients in the hospital as well. Ohm says going to a site for just one condition may not be enough for most patients.
“You might be a breast cancer survivor but you also as a result have an auto immune condition, you might live with Lyphidema and you might also have depression and anxiety,” she said.
Ohm says she never imagined her own health struggles would lead to so much good.
“Sickness is everywhere and people are very isolated and alone when it comes to illness so it's a huge need,” she said.
Treatment Diaries is a finalist for Forbes "most promising companies in America" list and was recognized by Startup Nation as one of the top mother owned businesses in the country.