Former investment banker Fabian Bolin has set up a social media network to help improve the mental health of everyone affected by cancer. Bolin launched War On Cancer, a social network app, after being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015 at the age of 28, and finding comfort in speaking about his journey on the internet. From his hospital bed, Bolin uploaded a post that went viral with 13,000 shares in just 24 hours. He eventually went on to blog about his experiences with cancer and now credits storytelling with improving his mental health.
“The blog became my savior in what would be the most painful and dramatic period of my life. Naturally, I experienced a flow of different emotions and my blog was my way to vent them all,” he says. “Sharing my experience gave me a greater sense of purpose and meaning than I have ever felt before in my life. I, together with Sebastian Hermelin, who supported me throughout my entire journey, felt an urge to help people in similar situations, on a global level. Together we decided to build a company around storytelling and that’s where the idea for War On Cancer came from.”
Based in Sweden, War On Cancer has been designed for patients, survivors and their loved ones. It provides users with a place to share their stories and experiences and connect with other people with similar experiences.
“The main purpose of the platform is for storytelling and social networking. As a member of the platform, you can share your journey or follow others. Additionally, based on the user information provided (such as diagnosis), the platform automatically suggests people to follow,” explains Bolin.
“Members can engage in discussions in the comments section or via private or group conversations. The platform aims to facilitate real and authentic connections between people.” But through the use of transparent and consensual data sharing, the firm also hopes to drive cancer research. “We are currently also working on a feature that appeals to our users’ altruistic side by enabling consensual data sharing,” he says
“Together with our partners from the life science sector, we are building a feature within the app which will allow members to share their health data through surveys, should they wish to, for research purposes.”
For Bolin, turning an initial idea into a reality has been a journey of successes and obstacles. “Our team has grown to 13 great employees and we’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to speak about War On Cancer, and raise awareness around the mental health issues that go alongside cancer diagnoses, at conferences in and around Europe and the U.S.,” he says.
“Building a company is hard on many levels. You have the financial distress, the mental challenges, and, of course, the physical effort required to work relentlessly while undergoing chemotherapy. However, I can safely say that we have never been even remotely close to giving up.”
Looking ahead, Bolin’s aim is to support as many people as possible. He concludes: “Right now the main and only priority for us is to welcome all cancer patients, survivors and loved ones to War On Cancer, providing a safe place where open, honest conversations can be had, connections made and friendships forged. Together we hope to improve the mental health of those with cancer.”