The NZ Breast Cancer Foundation has launched what is thought to be a world-first with their new app, mybc, which acts as an online community that also provides access to specialist nurses and private portals for members to track their own breast cancer experience.
Within the mybc community there are sub-communities for different breast cancer patient groups - a place for people to connect and share experiences with others like them. But it’s much more than that: members can book individual video, audio or live-chat appointments with a breastcare nurse; as well as being able to store medical records and track personal progress and milestones in their own private portal. All members can participate in Living Well, a survivorship programme designed to help people return to “normal” life after breast cancer. In addition, a wide range of articles, videos and web resources will provide extended information on a range of topics.
Says NZ Breast Cancer Foundation chief executive, Evangelina Henderson, “Women often tell us, ‘I couldn’t find anyone else like me,’ whether they mean their kind of breast cancer, or someone in the same family circumstances. So we’ve been wrestling for a while with the challenge of helping people find each other, no matter where they are in our spread-out country. We were also keenly aware that people outside our cities don’t get to connect with specialist breastcare nurses as much as they’d like. We looked at the various apps and online platforms around the world, but didn’t see any that did what we wanted.”
The NZBCF felt that patients should be able to engage with their own progress to whatever extent suits them. The app offers this - they can track privately whatever measures they want: energy, happiness, treatment side-effects and more. They can then choose to share that information with their medical team or friends and supporters – or not.
“We were also very keen to add in a survivorship programme, because we hear from women that when the health system cuts them loose, it can be difficult to pick up the threads of normal life. Plus, they often want to make long-term lifestyle changes, and if they stay on hormone treatment for 10 years, as many do, there can be issues around living with that. Basically, breast cancer changes your life, and we’re acknowledging that with our Living Well programme,” Henderson says.
Supporters of breast cancer patients also have access to mybc, but in a more limited way. They can’t join the community, but can make appointments with a nurse and can access resources.
New Zealanders can sign up to mybc at www.mybc.care, or from download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play.