New wellbeing app provides support to teenagers and young adults with cancer

Patients and clinicians from The Royal Marsden have collaborated with Careology to develop an innovative app to offer health and wellbeing support for young people with cancer.

Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, the app will provide access to a wide range of content specifically tailored for the needs of young people.

It will include information on the topics identified by young people as most important to them, including managing symptoms, fatigue, body image, food and nutrition and mental health support, specifically around managing anxiety.

The content has been codeveloped by 16–24-year-old patients and their clinicians. For each theme, a representative from The Royal Marsden’s Teenage and Young Adult Youth Forum was paired up with a clinician, such as a lead nurse, occupational therapist, or nutritionist, to ensure information is accurate and relevant to a young person going through or recovering from treatment.

Emma T nurse

Emma Thistlethwayte, Teenage & Young Adult Lead Nurse at The Royal Marsden, was one of those involved in developing the app’s content.

She says: “We are so pleased that the Careology app will enhance the psychological support available to our teenage and young adult patients at The Royal Marsden.

“Being diagnosed with cancer at a young age is life-changing, and it affects people emotionally as well as physically. A number of our young patients are referred to our psychological support service, which is funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. We wanted to provide further mental health support to them through every stage of their diagnosis, treatment and beyond, and Careology’s solution enables exactly that.

“Incorporating the patient voice was very important to us, and the tools and resources in the app will support and empower patients to contribute to their own emotional wellbeing and overall health.”

Symptom tracking features within the Careology app enable the young person to record the symptoms and feelings they are experiencing. As a result, they are shown personalised and age-specific content, including peer-to-peer advice, poems, tips, articles and recipes.

Lauren TYA app

Lauren Merry, 21, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 when she was only 14 years old. After relapsing a couple of years later, she was treated at The Royal Marsden’s Oak Centre for Children and Young People.

Lauren went on to get the all-clear in December 2017 and is now a member of The Youth Forum at The Royal Marsden, helping to support other young patients who are going through their own cancer diagnosis. Lauren helped to develop content for the app, writing some top tips for other young cancer patients.

She said: “We should all be looking after our mental wellbeing anyway but with a cancer diagnosis, it’s something that becomes even more important.

“As something which has been co-developed by young patients who have been through a cancer experience, I think it will make a huge difference in supporting other young people and making them feel less alone. If you’re having an ‘up’ or a ‘down’ day, it will provide articles that support you.”

Careology plans to share the content in the app with other hospitals wishing to help Teenage and Young Adult cancer patients.