Why we launched Speak
In Japan today, one in two of the population will experience cancer. Japan’s population is 130 million, which means that approximately 1% of the population is a cancer patient at some point in time. Although this is such a familiar disease that many people experience, we believe that there is a lack of places where people can talk about their lives when they become patients.
Why do we need a place to talk?
When diagnosed with cancer, patients face three challenges. First, treatment. Then, how to coordinate work and other activities while undergoing treatment. The second is thinking about your own life. When you are diagnosed with cancer, you feel shock and a strong sense of isolation. Many people complain, “Why did I get cancer?”. As tests and procedures begin for treatment and social life, the cancer disease, which until now has been someone else’s problem, becomes your own. By verbalizing and communicating about the physical and mental pain you are feeling at this time, you can help organize your feelings, gather information efficiently, and make better choices.
Who can support?
Regarding treatment and social life, there is a full range of insurance and welfare programs in Japan. There will be a system to support your choices. But what about your own life? Who will you talk to about it? It works best to talk to other cancer patients or to a professional who understands cancer patients.
Speak will provide three functions.
First, it is the right gateway to information. There is a lot of useful information online today. We are creating a public data portal for patients so that they can get to the right information without getting lost. We are creating a portal of public data for patients, mainly information for patients from the National Cancer Center and the Japanese Cancer Association, as well as local patient information provided by each municipality.
Second, it is a place for patients to meet other patients. These are called peer counseling or patient groups, where you can talk with similar patients.
Third, it is a place to meet with professionals who can work together to find solutions to the personal problems patients face in their daily lives. We look for specific ways to alleviate the pain caused by cancer and treatment, such as how to deal with the symptoms and side effects of the disease, how to regulate one’s feelings, and how to research information.