War On Cancer featured in WIRED UK, an article covering how War On Cancer aims to tackle the hidden mental health impacts of cancer.
At the age of 28 Fabian Bolin fell ill with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. After the diagnosis, in May 2015, the investment banker turned actor was given a 60 to 70 per cent chance of recovery. “I felt like my life was ruined,” he says. “And I had a bunch of questions – not so much about the practicalities of the cancer itself, but more about life with cancer. What happens on a normal Tuesday? How should I eat or exercise to maximise the chance of survival?”
Unsatisfied with the answers he was getting from doctors, both in London and his native Sweden, he turned to social media – and his Facebook post was shared more than 30,000 times. For many patients, the mental side of cancer can be as tough as the physical symptoms: they often feel lonely, and that they can’t share their problems without overburdening friends and family. Bolin describes reading other people’s stories in the comments on his post as a life-changing experience. “We started thinking, ‘What if we can replicate this experience that I’m having on a global level?’”
In May 2016, Bolin and his friend Sebastian Hermelin launched War On Cancer, a social network app for everyone affected by cancer. It offers a safe space where sufferers can share stories, which they may not want their Facebook friends to see, with others in the same position. But it could also help accelerate the search for a cure.
“The industry has a really big problem with getting their hands on patient-reported data,” says Hermelin, who is now COO of War On Cancer. “That’s data on how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, how they’re responding to treatment.”