The Cancer Dojo app is a new recovery tool that can aid cancer patients in all aspects of their treatment.
It was launched last year by cancer survivor and international award-winning creative director, Conn Bertish, who believes your thoughts can affect your well-being. The app teaches cancer patients how to actively engage with their treatments, stay motivated, generate their own meditations, learn to visualise, be more mindful, eat better, laugh more and become happier and healthier.
The Cancer Dojo has 16 levels of positive behaviour-changing methodology, over 1 000 unique screens, videos, gifs (animated images) and voice notes. Plus, more than 400 images, thought starters (questions or ideas to help you think about a topic) and tasks. Together these provide a playful, upbeat forum filled with the tools, content and information to help create a positive mindset, which ultimately boosts the immune system.
“Cancer Dojo gives organised innovation to cancer patients who are looking for a way to take back control of their lives,” concludes Professor Jeanette Parks, head of Groote Schuur Hospital Oncology.
The Cancer Dojo app is available at the App Store (Apple) and Google Play Store.
What else you can do to get well
When it comes to recovering from cancer, support from loved ones and taking mindful, positive steps toward your healing make the biggest difference.
Professor Alan Davidson, head of Red Cross Oncology, Cape Town, says: “A positive mind-set is critical – a positive patient, and a positive family, are going to survive the rigours of the treatments more easily.”
A cancer diagnosis changes everyone, but, like the Cancer Dojo app, there are tools available to help you forge a new life.
My story: ‘I was terrified cancer would return, while Tim looked to the future’
*Dani Binnington, 38, works part-time in a health shop. She lives with her husband Tim and their eight-year old daughter and twin girls, aged six.
“I found the lump while watching TV one evening. I was only 33, so my GP thought it was a cyst, but I had a biopsy to make certain. When the doctor said it was cancer, I was shattered. Fortunately, it hadn’t spread. But during chemo, my hair fell out and I had spots all over my neck. I wore a wig and though my husband told me I looked lovely, I didn’t feel it. I just wanted my hair back. We continued to make love, even during treatment, because we felt it would keep us close.
The hardest time was once chemo and radiotherapy were over. I hated having to wait to see if the cancer would return. I tested positive for the BRCA1 faulty gene, which raises the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and that made me feel really low. I was trying so hard to recover from the cancer I’d already had, and then had to get my head around reducing the risk of more cancer in the future. It was awful to think my girls might have inherited the faulty gene, too. I went to a dark place.
At each three-monthly check-up, I was told there was no recurrence, but I had aches and pains, which I now think were psychosomatic because I was so scared. I kept telling Tim the cancer had spread, but he stayed calm and said we should deal with the facts, not the ‘what ifs’. He wanted to book a Thailand holiday and I was terrified I wouldn’t make the trip. But Tim was adamant we needed to create new, happy memories. I’m so grateful he persuaded me. The whole holiday I kept thinking, ‘I’m here, I can’t believe it.’ My mom-in-law also suggested yoga. At first I was worried my wig would slip off, but the stretching felt so good. It helped me trust my body again, which made me feel more sensual, even sexy. I started researching healthy eating, too – it was empowering to think I could help keep myself well. Tim was relieved I’d found something that made me feel positive. He even encouraged me to go on a yoga holiday to Goa without him.
Due to my increased risk of getting breast cancer again, I chose to have a risk-reducing double mastectomy two years after my diagnosis. I wanted to be around for my girls as long as possible. I had reconstruction surgery, using implants, at the same time as the mastectomy. Before the bandages came off, I decided I was going to like my new breasts. The hardest thing was getting used to how they felt. There’s no sensation in them, so Tim and I weren’t even sure whether to make them part of our intimate life – but now they’re just another part of my body.
By the time I had the surgery, I was very into my healthy lifestyle – I even checked myself out of hospital the next day so I could recover at home with green juices. Tim has been so supportive of my new way of eating, although when I first made courgette spaghetti, he got a takeaway!
I’ve still not had the all-clear, and I’m planning surgery to remove my ovaries because ovarian cancer is a risk, too, so the journey continues. But I feel lucky and try not to worry about the future. I have so much respect for Tim – his love, patience and optimism pulled us through.”
TIM SAYS “It was tough when Dani thought that she had a life-threatening disease after her treatment was over. She had to get checked out to put her mind at rest, but I had been looking forward to her treatment ending so that we could go back to normal.
There were times when my mind wasn’t on daily life. I tried to stay upbeat, but it wasn’t always easy, so I went for counselling. One thing the counsellor said was that we can only deal with what is now – hearing that helped me a lot.
Dani is strong and we’ve always been good together, but we’ll never have the life we had before. That’s okay, though. We appreciate every day and don’t put off doing the things we want to do.”
*This article originally appeared in woman&home UK.