Squeaky has partnered with the Sony Foundation Australia to build a networking platform for young people in Australia who are dealing with cancer. We leveraged our platform IHadCancer.com, a digital health and lifestyle brand dedicated to improving the day-to-day life of cancer survivors, fighters and caregivers, to launch You Can Connect (youcan.org.au).
The platform provides an online extension of You Can, a youth cancer program set up by the Sony Foundation Australia in 2010. You Can’s aim is to fund specialised youth cancer centres around Australia to address the current gap in the healthcare system. According to You Can, “Currently, young Australians with cancer are a ‘forgotten generation’ who are falling through the gaps of our medical system. Young people aged between 16 and 25 have significantly poorer survival rates than children and older adults due to a lack of access to age appropriate care.”
You Can Connect was born out of the need identified by You Can and Peter MacCallum Hospital, Melbourne for a place where young people affected by cancer could reach out for peer support, or get peer support, no matter where they were, their proximity to a physical You Can Centre or what stage they were at in their journey. A place where they could go when they can’t talk to their parents, when their mates don’t get it, a place where they won’t have to censor their journey. A virtual You Can Centre where all the discussions were by young people, for young people.
About the partnership, Sophie Ryan, CEO of the Sony Foundation says, “We believe this [partnership] would have a huge success rate in Australia and really tap into an area that desperately requires more engagement, support and networking for so many.”
“Cancer is a disease that can take all of your control away,” said Mailet Lopez, the CEO and founder of IHadCancer.com and Managing Director of Squeaky. “You feel helpless, lost, afraid, confused, and — most troubling — alone. This is an even more pressing issue for younger cancer patients who are limited to a much smaller pool of peers capable of empathizing with their experiences. As a result, many people diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15 – 35 have no support system and no way of finding one despite there being millions of people in the world going through the same experiences.”
Mailet founded IHadCancer while she was in this demographic because she wanted to make sure no one else would have the difficulties connecting with others the way she did during her cancer journey. Although she had great support from her family, she found that they couldn’t fully understand what she was going through. She spent a lot of time searching online, but she couldn’t find a resource that easily connected her with someone who could answer specific questions.
After finishing treatment, Mailet decided that she wanted to help other patients deal with cancer, so with the help and support of Squeaky, she set out to build an online community that would allow people to search by age, gender, location, type of cancer and year diagnosed to find others who truly understood.
Both IHadCancer and You Can Connect were designed, developed and are managed in-house at Squeaky.