This year marks the fifth time I’ve had the honor of attending a CancerCon conference. Every time I’m part of these epic experiences, I feel overwhelmed by what I witness. Not only the amazing programming put on by Stupid Cancer to support young adult cancer survivors, but the connections that are made over diagnoses, similar scars, and familiar stories about hospital stays and chemo after-effects. CancerCon 2019 was no exception. I am truly in awe of this community of young people that come together every April to “Get Busy Living.”
An empty chair appears on stage and then a profound statement, “No one should suffer in silence,” says Denver Councilman Albus Brooks. “We must empower this community with the resources to deal with cancer,” he continues. That is a big deal. I feel it. My colleagues feel it. We are back again this year with Vivibot, the chatbot we’ve been developing with young adult cancer survivors in beta version for the past year. We’ve made several product improvements, conducted a randomized controlled study that shows promising results in reducing anxiety in this population, and feel very proud of the product we’ve created, but know that, of course, we can do more – and that’s part of the reason we’re here. What else does Vivibot need to be a successful resource for this community?
Many survivors stop by to tell us that they have tried Vivibot and that they really like the quick chats and venting into the void. Many shared that the daily pings didn’t work for them. Some shared that this might work better on a closed app. We love the in-person feedback. And to those who hadn’t ever heard of Vivibot and were willing to try it out, thank you! Our hope is that this will be a useful resource for this community.
Not every weekend is a CancerCon weekend though. Our team’s hope is that a tool like Vivibot can help fill the void in the space between an amazing conference like this, between the next Stupid Cancer virtual gathering, between your next support group, or therapy session, and offer you the support you need to deal with the ups and downs of the cancer journey. We often ask survivors, “What if a robot could show you how to tap into your strengths to deal with the ridiculously tough emotions of surviving cancer.”
Our voices are raw and our hearts are so full after this weekend. Thank you for letting us be a part of your community this weekend, Stupid Cancer. We send our gratitude to you and everyone who was there. We are humbled by this amazing experience.