Optimizing Care for Cancer-Related Problems with Sexual Health and Fertility
Dec 9, 2019
Winners of the Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize are actively working to transform what it means to live with a cancer diagnosis and improve the patient experience throughout the cancer journey. The C3 Prize is a challenge that seeks to fund the best non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care for patients, caregivers and their loved ones.
Will2Love, one of this year’s C3 Prize Innovation Prize winners – selected by an expert panel of judges during a live pitch event on October 25, 2019 – provides education and expert guidance to help people impacted by cancer manage their sexual health and fertility.
Prevalent Challenges, Yet Rarely Discussed
Living with cancer or as a cancer survivor comes with challenges and concerns that are rarely discussed, including those relating to sexual and reproductive health. Clinical psychologist Leslie Schover, Ph.D., who is internationally recognized as an expert on sexual problems and infertility related to cancer treatment and other chronic illnesses, founded Will2Love to help cancer survivors prevent or overcome sexual or fertility problems.
“Will2Love is a digital health company that uses personalized content, interactive exercises and goal-setting to promote learning and behavior change to help men and women to reclaim their sexual selves and pursue their dreams of having children after cancer,” Schover said.
Will2Love offers online self-help tools for men and women, online training and support for oncology health professionals, and guidance for hospitals on how to structure a reproductive health program.
Each new survivor or partner using a Will2Love self-help program completes questions about his or her type of cancer and treatment, specific sexual problems, desire for help with fertility and parenthood, and relationship and dating issues, in order to create a personalized homepage with links to the most relevant content in the program. Will2Love guides people in choosing top goals for the program and tailors content accordingly, providing links to readings and/or exercises, and strategies to overcome potential barriers. After 12 weeks, people have the ability to review their progress and create a plan for the next 12 weeks.
“For people impacted by cancer, including survivors, issues with sexual and reproductive health are incredibly prevalent; yet these issues are rarely discussed or treated,” said Schover. “We are striving to empower survivors through education and provide support to healthcare professionals to help explore solutions to these challenges.”
Will2Love's tool for healthcare professionals teaches them to use the self-help programs with patients, including how to discuss sex and fertility comfortably and conduct assessments.
What’s Next for Will2Love
Will2Love intends to use the C3 Prize to expand the reach and awareness of Will2Love, and create specialized versions of its patient self-help programs for specific groups of people, which may include content for younger survivors (diagnosed with cancer from birth to age 40), LGBTQ-specific content and content for patients who speak Spanish.
Along with the funding, all winners will have the opportunity to attend TEDMED 2020 as TEDMED Scholars, joining a unique, multidisciplinary community of leading thinkers and doers from across the landscape of health, medicine, and scientific innovation. The winners also will receive a yearlong complimentary membership to MATTER, a global healthcare startup incubator, community nexus and corporate innovation accelerator.