mHealth Apps Converge On The Fight Against Pediatric Cancer

New York, NY-based non-profit Stupid Cancer, one of the largest pediatric cancer non-profits in the country, launches a crowdfuding campaign to raise funds for a new mHealth app designed to support kids in the fight against cancer.

“In our relentless pursuit to innovate and push our industry forward, Stupid Cancer is getting ready to enter the mobile health app space in a big way,” says CEO and founder Matthew Zachary in a statement about the initiative. Zachary himself is a cancer survivor. At 21-years old, the then concert pianist lost use of his left hand after being diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. He was told he’d likely never perform again, and was given a 50/50 chance of survival.  “This platform stands to revolutionize cancer support for the next generation and usher in a new era of patient empowerment and advocacy."

The app is designed to address a problem initially noted by the Institute of Medicine, which found that a lack of peer support is a contributing barrier in the fight to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Stupid Cancer’s app Instapeer addresses this by establishing one-on-one peer connections among its users. Peer matching services for pediatric cancer patients are currently only available through antiquated call center-based programs. Stupid Cancer hopes to change this by launching a mHealth platform designed to support patients on the form factor of their choice.

Pediatric patients are report feeling especially isolated when diagnosed with cancer. Young adults fighting cancer while trying to keep up with school, or start dating, or earn a degree, or begin their careers. They are a population that struggles with different life challenges than older cancer patients, and the need for peer support is critical. Stupid Cancer has set a target goal of $50,000 and has raised 4% of that since its launch.

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Last month, Cigna made news in the pediatric cancer world after announcing a partnership with mHealth developers Hope Lab, who have created a gamified mHealth app designed to engage pediatric patients in a fun game called Re-Mission 2: Nanobot’s Revenge, that is designed to provide motivattion and education.

In the game, patients take the role of a microscopic robot. Using weapons like chemotherapy, antibiotics and the body’s immune system, players fight to destroy a growing tumor as it tries to escape into the blood stream. The fight takes place around the body, in the brain, lungs, bones. Players earn points for winning, which can be traded in the in-game store for awards that create a stronger and more powerful micro-robot.  Scientific research published in the medical journal Pediatrics correlates the game with improves outcomes through improving treatment adherence and boosting self-efficacy.

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