Ventura County cancer patients can research new treatments online using a computer recently made available by the Wellness Community in Westlake Village.
They can also meet other people in cyberspace who are battling the disease, said Susan Friedman, who is business manager of the nonprofit organization, which provides free support services to cancer patients and their families.
Friedman said she realized the Wellness Community needed Internet access when her son-in-law was diagnosed with advanced metastasis melanoma, in which cancerous skin cells spread to other parts of the body.
He used the Internet to locate up-to-the-minute information about experimental treatments available in other parts of the country, and chat rooms where people swapped information and encouragement.
"He found very supportive people," Friedman said. "They cheer each other up, and that helps them feel less like victims."
Friedman said her organization will provide training on using the Internet and will develop a list of online resources that cancer patients may want to investigate.
The computer is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the organization's offices at 530 Hampshire Road, Westlake Village. The service is made possible by a $20,000 grant from Ortho-Biotech Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
The Wellness Community's Web address is www.wellness-comm.org; its phone number is 379-4777.