Imagine a place where cancer patients can connect with others who relate to their journey…and this is exactly what Sebastian Hermelin is creating in his work as CEO and co-founder of the Stockholm-based tech start-up War On Cancer.
It all started in 2015 when Sebastian’s close friend, Fabian Bolin (now Chairman of War On Cancer), was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia. Fabian documented his personal experience on a blog which resonated with tens of thousands of people online. Together with Sebastian, they came up with the idea: to create a place where everyone impacted by cancer can band together and grow through adversity. This became War On Cancer, a digital support tool for everyone affected by cancer.
We heard from Sebastian that whilst 80% of cancer patients are known to experience mental health difficulties, this is only formally diagnosed in 20% of cases and the majority of these patients do not experience the help they receive as sufficient. Not to mention all the cases which aren’t diagnosed and therefore not treated at all. The premise of War On Cancer is to treat patients like people and positively impact the lives of anyone impacted by cancer, humanising the disease by redefining and destigmatising the many elements of the cancer experience.
War On Cancer provides a connected safe space in the form of an online app where members can find not only fellow patients to share their experience but also healthcare professionals who readily share their knowledge. Members can take part in research, with current studies looking at topics such as mental health, communicating via emojis and lung cancer. The War On Cancer app also contains a Mental Health Buddy feature called Moody, which aims to educate and help support people and their mental health during and after cancer. It brings valuable insights, suggests helpful actions to take, and utilises machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve suggestions over time.
Sebastian’s inspiring presentation prompted a lively discussion with the Inspire2Live audience including questions about the availability of the app in additional languages to increase the global outreach and comments about the importance of offering mental health support as part of treatment for cancer. One of our patient advocates, Franklin Mtei, offered to translate the app into Swahili to enable distribution in East Africa and Sebastian invited us all to consider how we can support the translation in our local languages and regions.
Keep up the great work Sebastian and team! We’re looking forward to working more together in the future!
Patient Advocate, Inspire2Live