Know Before You Go:
PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY & YOUR HEALTH
Before you participate with any Internet resource (email list, message board or newsgroup), know that any information you give may be available to anyone already there. Sometimes everything you provide is owned by them and they can legally do whatever they want with it: sell it or publish it.
At Web sites, look for a privacy statement buried in small print that might say what they can do with the information you give. Read it closely. It is their legal disclaimer if you complain. But learn from real life. The large and famed "Dr. Koop" medical site went bankrupt in 2002 and all names and information they acquired were sold as assets.
So much for that privacy!
Also, like vultures, some people hang out ("lurk") on lists and boards (even about cancer) to capture email addresses and then sell them to or use them for commercial (mass) mailing lists (called spam). That is how these blood-suckers pay the rent.
If you are concerned about your privacy, there is a way to give some protection and still participate.
1. Never join any list or group with your real name or address.
2. Never give your real name or address in a group or list message.
3. Instead, get an alternate email account with another name (consider it your pen name) and use it for lists and groups.
Some email accounts allow a change of name/address. If so, test it with a close friend to ensure that it does not disclose your actual name and email address.
Otherwise, try (and practice first with) one of the free accounts like Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) or HotMail (www.hotmail.com.)
4. Remember, you don't know who is giving you advice. There are some out there who know less than you and yet they will spout opinions. Don't let fear, desperation or urgency dictate or replace your medical care, causing you to grasp at, believe or try anything.
Team up with your physician and you'll make it.