Thursday 2 June, 2022

Co-founder Fabian Bolin Leaves War On Cancer Operationally

Fabian Bolin leaves his operational role at War On Cancer to step into a new role as advisor for the company. Here’s a note from our Co-founder, Sebastian Hermelin:

One of my biggest adventures in life started off on a sad note when my best friend messaged to let me know he’d been diagnosed with cancer. Now that Fabian is leaving War On Cancer operationally and stepping into a role as advisor, I want to take the opportunity to share some insights into our founder’s story and highlight the way in which we are moving forward on our mission.

Fabian’s diagnosis in 2015 and our daily conversations over the phone during the months after was the start of War On Cancer. The reason we started it came from a desire to do something for others – to change the narrative of what cancer is or could be, to the benefit of those going through it. Seven years later, War On Cancer is a company that helps more than 30,000 people impacted by cancer in over 30 countries. We are on the cusp of changing how people talk about cancer and how the patient’s voice can be amplified in a meaningful way to pave the way for positive change in cancer research and care. We set off on this adventure with a dream to change the reality of what going through cancer means. Now, this dream is becoming reality before our eyes.

It’s with nostalgia that I think back on the time when we were first invited to MedTech Forum in Brussels back in 2018 because we “talked about cancer differently” or when we were invited by one of the big pharmaceutical companies to their executive summit in the US because we “made people realise the value of their work.” We thought we were already making a difference just because we were invited to speak. Today, we do less speaking, and do more by building a product that people love.. 

A lot has changed in the last seven years and I’m happy to witness a turning point in how people speak about their own cancer experiences, and how the life science sector talks about their responsibility in the wellbeing of their patients.. In addition, the War On Cancer team has grown in our understanding of what we are building and who we are building it for.

Fabian’s decision to leave War On Cancer operationally is not something he takes lightly, and neither do I. More importantly, the decision comes out of necessity, not a want. Fabian has given his all to War On Cancer from the very first day of his diagnosis, at the detriment of his own health. During a moment when most people impacted by cancer are advised to recuperate, Fabian built War On Cancer in an effort to help others. I think that says a lot, if not everything.

Fabian’s experience and way of looking at life with cancer was the eye-opener that lay the foundation for the company’s purpose. He’s also the reason why we take an active stance for patients and have their well-being be our utmost priority in all decisions we make. Many claim the “patient-first”-narrative, but being “patient-founded” is the key here. That’s why we resonate with the people we’ve set out to help.

So what does this mean from a company purpose, mission and vision point of view?

War On Cancer has over the years grown into something that is exponentially bigger than a story or two friends trying to change the world and make an impact. I know Fabian will agree when I say that where we find ourselves is the result of a tremendous team effort over the last couple of years – from our colleagues, member community, investors and beyond. His leaving is a sad moment but also a moment of clarity and alignment. Nothing has changed in terms of where or what we come from. The reason we exist and the purpose we fulfill is defined, goals are set, and we work relentlessly to get there whilst listening to and learning from our community along the way.

This adventure started with Fabian and right now, we’re in the middle of it. It’s exciting, filled with potential, and we know that hard work is required to reach our goals. The importance of what we aim to achieve can’t be overstated, as well as the War On cancer team and my commitment to get there.

On a personal note, Fabian is one of those people you’ll notice in a room as he truly lights it up. He made me think more of myself, not in terms of value but in terms of capability. He always picked me up when I was down. He has been, and will remain, one of my best friends. The very reason I set out to help build War On Cancer was in hopes to help people impacted by cancer. By enabling Fabian to pursue what he needs in order to regain his health, we practice what we preach.

Building something on a foundation that makes it easy for people to join in the mission is fantastic. Enabling your vision to live on without you is the way to reach truly big goals. Fabian did both.

Thank you Fabian!

– Seb

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