Recently, we were pleasantly surprised to find an iTunes application for AYA Survivorship and wanted to know more about how it came to be available. So, we tracked down one of the designers, Deborah Vollmer Dahlke, chair of the Cancer Alliance of Texas and doctoral student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health, for an interview.
The SAMFund: Tell us about the app and how it came to be developed. We’re excited to share it with our blog readers, it is an excellent resource for “on the go” healthy living for young adult cancer survivors.
Dahlke: The app was “born” in spring of 2012 in response to the need to improve the quality of life and potential outcomes for adolescents and young adults (AYA) cancer survivors. It was a project primarily for the AYA audience, but is applicable to all cancer survivors because it provides accessible, evidence-based information and has an interactive self-assessment to promote healthy survivorship behaviors.
The SAMFund: Tell us more about how it works.
Dahlke: We wanted to make sure that AYAs could create a personalized survivorship plan in addition to providing guidelines for cancer screening, resources, and other information. The interactive assessment functionality supplements the plan, by helping users assess their health habits, calculate their body mass index (BMI), and avoid other diseases like heart disease, diabetes, bone loss, and stroke. After a series of questions based on cancer survivorship studies, the assessment provides personalized scores for lifestyle, physical activity, diet and nutrition, and well-being. Users can save their scores and re-take the assessment at any time.
Dahlke: Glad you like the tips! If you choose, they can be sent to your iPhone every day. They are an important tool to help users be mindful of healthy activities, exercise goals, and nutrition. We are working on some new apps that will be mobile accessible so we can share similar tips and tools across all mobile platforms, not just iPhones.
Dahlke: We think survivorship plans are key tools for healthy survivorship. Survivorship plans are not a medical diagnosis or recommendation. Rather, it is intended as a personal reference document that can be revised periodically. It’s a good idea for AYAs to share the plan with their health care providers to incorporate recommendations for regular medical checkups, routine screenings, and other information specific to their diagnosis and experience. And it’s good to review survivorship plans with family members and other caregivers.
Our team was also grateful for the support of The Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group, the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. COG generously allowed the AYA Healthy Survivorship app to share their “Health Links” guidelines. In addition, COG’s website includes materials for both providers and survivors including the Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers.
The SAMFund: Last but certainly not least, where do YAs download the app? Do you have any plans for updates?
Dahlke: Download the app from the iTunes store and visit Healthy Survivorship to find links to develop a personalized survivorship plan. We definitely have plans to update the app as new AYA research and guidelines become available. We also anticipate creating a Spanish version of a survivorship app soon.