BEACON (Beneficial, Empowering, Accessible, Cancer Online Network) is a free, self-paced online system that provides cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors tools to reduce stress, cultivate joy, and practice wellness. This program was developed by Wellness Within, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people navigate the fog of information and emotions surrounding cancer diagnosis; their goal is to give space to focus on your quality of life while letting the doctors focus on the disease.
Wellness Within provides a wide variety of free live virtual classes and online services, such as BEACON, designed to enhance a person's quality of life by incorporating practices that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Their curriculum includes classes in Expressive Arts, Healing Movement, Meditation & Mindfulness, Nutrition & Cooking, and Guest Speakers. Free in-person services are also available at their center in Roseville, California. BEACON is designed to provide support based on where the individual is in their cancer journey. It is available in English and can be accessed through a web browser.
The program is divided into three modules: 1. Orientation, 2. In Treatment and 3. After Treatment. You can access any of the modules or lessons in any order at any given time.
The Orientation module provides you with an overview of Wellness Within and the research empowering its programs.
The In Treatment module gives you useful resources to help you navigate after being diagnosed with cancer and when undergoing treatment. The module focuses on areas such as movement, mindfulness, nutrition & cooking, and expressive arts.
The After Treatment module contains resources for when treatment ends. This module builds on the areas explored in module 2 and addresses a variety of additional topics such as overcoming the trauma of cancer, sleep, the effects of chemo brain, and reducing environmental toxins.
How it works
BEACON can be accessed via web browser from your phone or computer, and all you need is an email address to enroll. Once you've registered, log in to your account to access the course dashboard. From there, all you have to do is choose the module you want to access and click on the lesson you wish to take. Lessons are available in one of three formats: video, audio, or text. Each lesson has an icon next to it that shows the format it is in. Audio and written lessons can both be downloaded.
The written lessons contain links to the studies that back up the information presented. After exploring and seeing how the program’s website works, I recommend you download the written lessons as you won't be able to click on those links if you are reading the lesson from the program’s website. The lesson will download as a PDF file. Audio and video lessons run very well on the program website. You can also listen to the audio lessons through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pandora, etc. To do so, click on the corresponding streaming icon when you play the audio from the BEACON website.
BEACON offers tools that speak to the needs of people diagnosed with cancer with the aim to restore healing and inspire positivity. Despite its practical nature, BEACON does a great job explaining body changes you may experience after cancer treatment, such as chemo brain and pain, and how to cope. You can also learn about these topics in Zero Breast Cancer’s Survivorship Factsheets. BEACON also provides tips on how to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, which align with Zero Breast Cancer advice found in our Generations campaign.
While the program interface was not visually appealing to me, I found its content to be excellent, and I believe those motivated to complete the program after being diagnosed with cancer won't find it an issue.
It has been shown that people with cancer who incorporate mind-body support can experience a decrease in depression; an increased sense of well-being and engagement; improved coping skills; and less pain, fatigue, and energy. BEACON can be an excellent and easy-to-use resource to help you cultivate that type of connection.
This review was written by Laura Custodio, ZBC Bilingual Program Coordinator.