In late May, Chelsea Campbell and her four-person team of programmers and marketers will launch Take Care, an app focused on connecting young adults at various levels of cancer treatment or management to each other. Campbell said she first noticed the “huge gap in social help” when she had cancer.
Upon conducting interviews with seventy people suffering from cancer or who previously had it, she found that “right now loneliness, isolation, and depression are very very common amongst these individuals.” When she entered the St. Paul’s Greenhouse program, Campbell knew she wanted to create a sense of empowerment and social support for young adults especially; she said, “typically young adults are kind of the marginalized group in cancer support. There are great resources for kids up to eighteen but after that you’re just recognized as an adult with cancer.”
“The support groups are often filled with people who are 60, 70, 80, … so when you come in and you’re the youngest by thirty years it’s not actually helpful; it’s hurtful.”
Campbell credits the Greenhouse program for helping her make tangible improvements and gain the confidence she needed to develp the app. “Technology … is the language of young adults and is a way to keep things flexible,” said Campbell, regarding her choice to use a mobile app platform. “Not all individuals who have cancer are able to go out into the community just yet, and it keeps it more open to individuals at all stages of cancer.”
The app allows users to develop a profile and be as open and honest as they care to be. They can divulge their diagnosis, learn about local programs and services, and share coping strategies with each other.
Campbell noted that the app was similar in many respects to the American-based program Stupid Cancer, but she felt that Stupid Cancer, while good at creating digital communities, “lacks the function of connecting people with resources in their area.” This is one of the key features upon which Take Care focuses — rather than a thin digital community across Canada, “we want to be able to provide the [most accurate] programs,” even if that means limiting selection to just Waterloo.
Another important feature of Take Care is its duality as a creative outlet. Campbell explains, “not everyone is willing to share in the same way, and so maybe they’ve created poetry or art or music or a blog [regarding cancer]. So it provides an outlet to share what they’re going through in a less formal way.”
Take Care is developing its network in preparation for its upcoming app launch.
Photo above courtesy Stephanie Collings