In 2011, Dr Bram Kuiper and Door Vonk met while working at the Helen Dowling Institute (HDI), a psychological centre for cancer patients in the Netherlands. Before he became the CEO of the HDI in 2000, Bram worked at the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam as a clinical psychologist. He offered psychological support to hundreds of cancer patients and their loved ones, provided intervision to oncological nurses and was an active advocate for integrating psychological care with medical care. Door ran her own advisory company and worked at the HDI as a fundraiser when their paths crossed. Both of them noticed that many cancer patients were suffering from severe fatigue as a result of their cancer, the medical treatments and the emotional and social impact of their illness.
After creating successful group interventions with fatigued cancer patients, the HDI started an online training program in 2009 for the treatment of cancer-related fatigue. The training consisted of a nine-week program and weekly feedback from therapists. The results of a study on the online intervention in 2012 were amazing: 35% of the users noticed a significant, positive change in their level of fatigue. Another 50% felt much less fatigued. So 85% benefited from the therapy. It even proved to be equal to face-to-face intervention. Bram and Door realized that this was something they could take to the next level. So many more people could benefit from this! However, to upscale the online intervention in this form was impossible, with the weekly consults with therapists. They decided to turn the online therapy into an English language app, to reach millions of fatigued cancer patients worldwide, even though they knew nothing about building apps. If they’d only known what they would be up against…
Since 2012, Bram and Door have been on a rollercoaster ride called Tired of Cancer. Inevitable set-backs didn’t prevent them from pursuing their goal. They blindly put their own money into the project, fully convinced that they would succeed in the end. Again and again they managed to convince investors and stakeholders with their heartfelt story and unstoppable passion for making this app. And time and time again people put their faith in their mission, even though there was no sign of the app yet. For five years Bram and Door worked in the evenings and weekends to develop their project. Admission to the Horizon2020 Phase 2 program of the European Commission was a major turning point: since July 2017 Bram and Door stopped working at the HDI and started working fulltime at Tired of Cancer. They even hired three young potentials to help them. They found creative partners to help realize their vision and technical partners to build the app. With the team working at full speed, the English version of the app will be launched in early 2018. Dutch, German and Spanish version will follow in the months thereafter.
Bram and Door are proud to say that the Tired of Cancer app delivers an effective, easy-to-use, self-management tool for the treatment of cancer-related fatigue. They are driven by the opportunity to increase the reach and impact of this tool worldwide for fatigued cancer patients and cannot wait to show you the app and all its benefits.