NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A cancer diagnosis can be devastating and disorienting.
There’s so much to keep track of – medications, doctor’s appointments, and keeping family and friends informed. Now, there’s an app for that.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, cancer apps can actually improve a patient’s outcome.
Cancer can cause depression and anxiety and compromise your ability to organize. Plus, chemotherapy and radiation can impair your thinking. All of which affect both quality of life and effectiveness of treatment.
Two years ago, Cynthia Lalaran was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer. She had chemo and a double mastectomy, but says that actually wasn’t the hardest thing she had to contend with.
“The only thing that was overwhelming to manage was logistics and scheduling and the number of appointments I suddenly had on my calendar,” she says.
Then, there’s the sometimes daunting task of keeping up with your all-important support system.
“Sometimes you don’t want to post everything on Facebook. Sometimes you want to post to your eight or nine or 10 people in your close support network,” Lalaran says. “I didn’t have that, and I wish I had that.”
Now, she’s learning the ins and outs of a new app called Living With. It’s a digital assistant made for cancer patients.
“They’ll feel more organized. They’ll have information that they need to bring to the doctor. They’ll have information that the doctor is giving them all in one place,” says Liz Barrett, global president of Pfizer Oncology.
Living With just launched with a splash in Times Square, but there are a number of similar, highly rated apps in the App Store.
One key feature to look for is the ability to track your emotional state, like anxiety, pain, depression, even anger and denial, Dr. Max reports. Being able to then report that to your doctor makes a big difference.
“Any resource that helps the patient organize his care, the outcomes are better, the survival times are longer, the quality of life is better,” says Dr. Prakash Masand, an adjunct professor at Duke NUS.
It’s the kind of help Lalaran wishes she had two years ago.
“Then you have your phone in your pocket, in your hand all the time. It’d be great to have my network right there all the time,” she says.
Living With and most of the other so-called cancer apps are available for free in the App Store. But look carefully for the features you need, especially being able to track and report information to your doctor.