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CPSI Share                                                  
Leader; Provider; Public
9/13/2018 6:00 PM

By: Chelsea Campbell

Chelsea Campbell is the Founder of a health care start-up known as Take Care which was launched in the Fall of 2017. Chelsea has been recognized for her work and has received funding through the GreenHouse, a social impact incubator, and The Spark Initiative. Chelsea is studying Social Development Studies at the University of Waterloo and aspires to be a Child Life Specialist in the near future. To find out more about Take Care go to www.takecare-organization.com.



In 2016, I was starting my second semester at the University of Waterloo when I was suddenly diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I was nineteen years old. I had just gained independence by moving away from home, I was just beginning to get into the rhythms of university life and now I found myself facing a serious health issue. I decided to stay in school throughout my cancer experience, and the medical care I received was incredible, but any social care was severely lacking. It was challenging to find the support I needed or even be able to recognize that I needed support at all. 

Almost a year later, I was introduced to another young adult with Thyroid Cancer and the instant connection we had was incredible. I felt understood and supported in a way I hadn’t up to that point. Months later, I was informed about a cancer support center right in my own city that I could have accessed. These encounters really got me thinking. Why wasn’t I connected with others? Why didn’t I know about the programs running in my own city? In a world so technologically advanced- why aren’t these things happening?

My curiosity lead to conducting interviews as I connected with 72 individuals who had cancer as young adults and the results were significant. 92% of these individuals experienced loneliness during their cancer experience, while 64% experienced isolation. Only 8% knew more than 3 individuals around their age with cancer, this statistic alone is lonely and isolating. When I asked what is one thing that these individuals wished they had during their cancer experience, 97% of the answers I received had to do with connection. People want that connection and support, they just don’t know where to find it. 

Through these interviews, research and many conversations, I was able to recognize three distinct problems that were negatively impacting my cancer experience as a young adult and the experiences of those around me. The first problem is that there is a lack of meaningful connection and support for the young adult cancer community. You can find support and programming for children and for adults fairly easily but there is a distinct gap where young adult support should be. The second problem is that programs that do exist have low interaction because people who need them don’t know about them or they are not accessible due to factors such as location. The third problem is that mental health struggles are very prevalent amongst this specific community of young adults with cancer. Though these are big problems, it seemed as though they could be addressed, to some extent, in a simple way. 

In September of 2017 I entered into a social entrepreneurship program called GreenHouse, which is run through the University of Waterloo. It was there where I made it my mission to change the way young adults experience cancer and tackle these problems. I wanted to use technology in the young adult cancer community to create meaningful connection through suitable methods, to empower young adults through personal and adaptable connection, to bridge the gaps between what already exists and the individuals who could benefit from it and to allow for easier navigation of programs and resources for young adults in the cancer community. Which is when the concept of Take Care was created!

Take Care is an app-based platform for young adults with cancer and young adult cancer survivors to find meaningful connection and support. Take Care focuses on connection to peers who understand, connection to programs the young adult can access in their own community, connection to helpful and applicable resources and connection to creative outlet space for young adults who may want to express themselves in different ways through our online platform. This simple solution has the ability to create a large impact. The Take Care app will be available for download on Apple and Android phones this Fall. Right now, Take Care is focused in Ontario, but it is our goal that Take Care would reach across Canada in the near future, to ensure every young adult touched by cancer is receiving the help and care that they deserve! 

In my opinion, the coolest thing about Take Care is that it was created due to a problem that I experienced as a patient in the health care system. Our experiences as patients allow us to understand challenges more deeply and create change so others don’t have to face these challenges in the same way. It is my hope that through Take Care, a stronger, more connected and supported young adult cancer community will be established so the only problem to be faced is the cancer itself!