Project Details

Woman laying on bed wearing a Livestrong wristband

Cancer Hacks

Straight-talking tips for cancer patients

By Livestrong

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @CancerHacks

Organisation URL:
Organisation Twitter: @livestrong

  • Health
  • Internet
  • Social Software

Cancer causes eight million deaths, or one in every eight, a year worldwide - higher than AIDS, malaria and TB combined. Cancer Hacks is a platform for patients and survivors within that community to share advice, tips, knowledge and support.

The peer-to-peer platform for cancer patients and survivors was set up by the Livestrong Foundation. Livestrong, which cyclist Lance Armstrong founded in 1997 after his diagnosis with cancer, has, despite his personal fall from grace, retained a powerful community, including 2.5 million direct beneficiaries of Livestrong programmes.

Right from the start, Livestrong has ‘hacked’ the cancer support ecosystem: eschewing the word ‘victim’ or ‘sufferer’, patients are instead called ‘survivors’; generating an unprecedented show of grassroots support and positivity with its iconic yellow Livestrong/Nike wristbands. A total of 87 million wristbands were sold; raising $500 million in funding to deliver services and push for policy changes that fill what they describe as ‘the financial, emotional, physical and practical gaps in care for cancer patients and survivors, to improve care and quality of life.’

Cancer Hacks takes the same radical approach into the online world – focusing the foundation’s whole global community, of survivors and experts, on the task of building a compendium of knowledge, from the seriously useful, like advice on financial support and tax guidance, to breezy crowd-sourced tips that the medical establishment might overlook, such as how to cure stuffy noses from swollen blood vessels with an ice cube or info on places that offer free fly-fishing retreats for men in remission.

Critics say that accuracy is occasionally the casualty of the site’s informal tone of voice and unmoderated content, however, the foundation sticks to their guns, saying Cancer Hacks is an important part of their drive to give patients more voice, and emotional and social support. ‘Our current cancer care system needs to do better on putting patients front and center,’ says Doug Ulman, foundation President and CEO. ‘Resources have been focused on the search for a future cure for cancer …sometimes to the detriment of people struggling with the disease today.’ 

Image 'LiveStrong' courtesy of mireia_mlm

Last updated: 11th of June, 2014

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