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App to assist in the fight against cancer

12 Jul 2017

Can you imagine if those fighting cancer could use their cell phones to help beat the disease?

The possibility is closer than you think, but your help is needed to make it a reality. Cancer fighters could soon be armed with medically supported tools and content to help increase their survival rate, now that the prototype for the Cancer Dojo mobile app is complete. Getting it into their hands is only a click away with a global crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo set to raise the first R100 000 from South Africans. This will be used to complete the first stage of development to make the app compatible with Android and iOS devices and geographically relevant to wherever it is used.

Cancer Dojo is the brainchild of cancer survivor and international award-winning Creative Director, Conn Bertish. He explains that the app turns cancer patients into cancer warriors by helping them to boost their own immune systems and augment the effects of their treatments through the use of creative techniques, tasks and fun challenges informed by Psychoneuroimmunology – the science behind how our minds affect how our bodies behave. It also uses a combination of online, mobile and social media technologies together with visual, auditory and community stimuli.

According to Bertish, “The Cancer Dojo app will be a space where cancer warriors can learn, find purpose within their disease and grow stronger whilst sharing skills and boosting
their resilience within a supportive, inspired community.” Bertish beat a severe and rare form of adult brain cancer in 2013, using the power of imagination and visual thinking to immerse himself in his bout with the disease and enhance the traditional treatments that he was prescribed.

Using his pen, paper and playful problem solving attitude, he began drawing a series of metaphors that helped him visualise his tumour and the multiple effects that different treatments would have on his cells. He was also able to concentrate energy where his body needed it most – augmenting the effects of his chemotherapy, radiation and numerous surgeries by linking his mind to his body in a playful, targeted way. This enabled him to prepare different organs, glands and muscles to combat the many negative side-effects of his debilitating treatments.

Bertish then took this thinking into everyday life. It became a game, a daily routine. He had found a playful, fear-debunking way to interact with his cancer and imagine himself beating it. Ultimately, his creative thinking increased his chances of survival and Bertish has since been urged by doctors, oncologists, neurologists and professors of science to use his experience and share this playful visual approach (dubbed Dojo Thinking) with the world. The result is The Cancer Dojo. Former head of Western Cape Government’s Department of Health, Dr Tom Sutcliffe, says, “At last a brilliant app that helps a lay person understand and thoroughly engage with his or her cancer on a creative, self-healing path.”

Top South African integrative medicine specialist and Medical Director of The Hummingbird Cancer Centre, Dr James Laporta, states, “This is an evolution in health care – the Cancer Dojo app is exactly what the world needs right now – a modern-day solution to helping millions.” Dr Claudius van Wyk, a member of the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK, concurs, “Cancer Dojo is a worthy endeavour to give the practical effect of the application of new Psychoneuroimmunology insights to those affected by this challenging condition, of whom Conn Bertish is a noteworthy exemplar.”

Oncologist, Dr Garth Davids, adds, “A vital step in any cancer journey is to be empowered to face its many challenges. Conn’s journey inspires and empowers.”

Bertish’s ideas of using creativity to engender health and resilience have not only been given the nod by the local medical fraternity, but also saw him receiving a standing ovation from the International Society of Paediatric Oncology after delivering the opening address at the organisation’s congress in Cape Town. Plus, he was invited to speak at the IF Italians Festival of Design Thinking in Italy and Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in the US, sharing the stage with the likes of Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon; musician, Iggy Pop and actor, Will Smith.

“The Cancer Dojo app helps patients unlock the powerful ways that they can play an active
and positive role in their own healing and recovery. We just need the world to help us make it
real,” concludes Bertish.

To pledge your support and help increase the global cancer survival rate;
Visit Find out more about Cancer Dojo at or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


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