by Alanna Iverson
I have had three family members impacted by cancer, as well as my beloved dog Matilda, and many more friends. Among those who have fought, I have lost an Aunt, a Grandfather and a (wo)man’s best friend. To honor their memories, I joined the 2011 Texas 4000 cycling team and biked with 44 fellow UT students from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK in order to spread hope, knowledge, and charity
In 2012, I helped found the UT Austin chapter of Camp Kesem, a free summer camp put on my college students for kids with a parent affected by cancer. I also spent a year interning at the LIVESTRONG Foundation from 2012-2013. During that year, I was able to come face-to-face with some of the survivors supported by the programs and staff of the Foundation.
As a LIVESTRONG Leader, I am kept up-to-date with the initiatives the Foundation is pushing out. After hearing about the Big C Competition I immediately thought it was an ingenious idea. Who better to ask about innovations that will help the cancer community than those in the cancer community? The only thing I was missing was an innovation…
For a few months, I have been following the journey of my kindergarten teacher’s husband’s battle with cancer over Social Media and noticed that a lot of her updates had to do with the practical challenges that come after a diagnosis: getting her daughter to volleyball practice, getting her husband to chemo while she was teaching, getting meals on a schedule so as not to end up with a full freezer on a Monday and nothing to eat on Friday. I let the challenge of coming up with an innovation simmer in my brain for a few weeks, when all of a sudden at around 7am during my Friday commute to work an idea popped into my head:
What if there was a free, online tool out there that could help families like Mrs. Hurst’s keep schedule of their lives without placing the burden on one or two friends or family members?
As soon as I thought of the idea for Cahootshare, I knew exactly where to go — The Big C. There is no organization I trust more to help me get an idea like Cahootshare off the ground than the LIVESTRONG Foundation. This one of a kind competition gives my idea the highest chance of success based on our similar missions, I’d be crazy to go anywhere else.
From the beginning, the main purpose of the website is to help outsource some of the practical challenges that come after a diagnosis to those who are willing to help, but don’t always know how. By using an online calendar and wish list, those affected can ask for help without feeling burdensome to those around them. Their family and friends can also know exactly how to help, whether it’s by giving time, money, or resources, to fill a direct need rather than wanting to help without knowing how. Now I’m never going to be the one to find the cure for cancer, but I can create a website. And if this website helps reduce even a small amount of stress for families after a diagnosis then I think we’re headed in the right direction.
Winning the Big C Competition would mean more than winning any other competition I’ve ever entered, for one simple reason. This competition isn’t for me — it’s for the 32.5 million people living with cancer today; it’s for all of their caretakers that struggle with the everyday tasks that become infinitely more challenging after a diagnosis; and it’s for everyone who wants to help but doesn’t quite know how.
Turning my dream of Cahootshare into a reality would not only change my life, but the lives of cancer fighters and caretakers everywhere. And that last part is really what it’s all about.