From Fuck Cancer’s Founder, A New App For People Who Ask “How Can I Help?”

When someone gets sick, well-meaning friends and family often offer help that’s not really helpful. New coordinated care app StandWith helps seamlessly coordinate the type of care patients actually need.

From Fuck Cancer’s Founder, A New App For People Who Ask “How Can I Help?”

As Yael Cohen knows too well, when a family member gets sick, all the people who offer to help generally aren’t very helpful, despite good intentions. “So much of the time people send flowers and casseroles,” Cohen, founder of Fuck Cancer, told Fast Company. “No one needs a fucking casserole; you’ve got 14 bouquets of flowers that are dying and nobody has walked the dog.” And walking the dog is just one of many, many day-to-day things that need to get done.

Yael Cohen

In fact, asking “How can I help?” or sending the umpteenth bagel delivery can make things more stressful. Cohen, who started the nonprofit Fuck Cancer when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and was one of her mom’s main caregivers, spent hours fielding phone calls and emails, delegating tasks to various people in her family’s life. Over time, she hacked together solutions to organize correspondences and dole out responsibilities. But none of that was quite good enough, so she decided to build something better.

StandWith is a care management app that comes out of Cohen’s experiences. Caregivers use it to assign tasks or send updates to anyone who might want to help out, connecting through Facebook, email, or Google+. You can categorize these people into three groups: family, friends, and acquaintances. You might only share certain things with family, for example. (In future versions, users will be able to create their own buckets.)

Once the groups are set up, the caregiver can ask for help from any or all of the people. You might ask someone to pick up the kids from school, buy more tissues, or pick up groceries, for example. The app will send out a push notification to the right people, who can accept or ignore. If nobody answers the call, it stays red; once someone takes on the errand, it turns yellow; once it’s completed it turns green.

StandWith App

This isn’t the first caregiver app. But unlike some of the others, it’s task oriented, and not for managing an illness, stresses Cohen. StandWith doesn’t ask for insurance, illness information, or pathology. This is about managing all the other things that surround illness, not the sickness itself.

That focus makes it incredibly simple, one of its draws. “From ideation to execution, we stripped away to so many functionalities and screens,” explained Cohen. “We really thought about how can we make it clean and beautiful.” Not everyone helping out will be tech savvy. Cohen tried to create something so easy a grandma can use it.

StandWith also makes completing tasks easy with in-app purchasing. Say you don’t have time to pick up groceries, but want to contribute. StandWith’s strategic partners let you help from afar. Instead of driving to Whole Foods, you could arrange food delivery through AmazonFresh, for example. Cohen wouldn’t detail any specific retailers she is in talks with, but potential partners could include eBay, Amazon, AmazonFresh, Uber, Lyft, Seamless, GrubHub,, and more. StandWith’s API talks to the APIs of these companies, making payment processes seamless, too. (You don’t have to enter credit card information a million times.)


Working with companies is also one of StandWith’s smart monetization strategies. The app is free to users. Retailers, however, pay for partnerships. Later versions of the app will also allow brands to send in-app thank-you messages. If someone purchased something from Seamless to help a sick friend, for example, Seamless might pay to send thank-you messages with deals, like a free Starbucks latte, or a discount. “This is an opportunity for brands to leave an indelible mark on people,” explained Cohen. If Seamless helps get you through cancer, you’ll probably think of it favorably for a while.

StandWith is launching today in closed beta. Select members of the Fuck Cancer community, as well as select members from undisclosed charity partners, will have access to the app “to ensure that this gets into the hands that need it most now,” said Cohen. The app will open up to the public in the fall.

About the author

Rebecca Greenfield is a former Fast Company staff writer. She was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic Wire, where she focused on technology news.