As in many contexts, in Greece, patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) often experience significant levels of stigma. Patients can feel isolated and experience a lack of support during their treatment. The Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois” (translated and referred to as My Alma) is the largest patient group in Greece and well known for the services it provides. To better support MBC patients, there is a need for tailored interventions, which are easily accessible, that promote hope and help individuals set and achieve realistic goals. My Alma developed a smartphone application (app) with information, psychological advice and tips to support MBC patients in their journey, as well as calendars and exercise videos designed to help promote healthy behaviours.
My Alma is a patient group whose vision is that every breast cancer patient in Greece has full psychosocial support and information on all aspects concerning their health, career and life. Moreover, the organisation works on breast cancer awareness in Greece to ensure every woman is informed about the importance of prevention and early detection.
“To be awarded with the SPARC grant by UICC and Pfizer Oncology is an honour and a heavy duty for us, due to the fact that we are trusted by two of the largest institutions in the world to be the voice of and to give voice to the metastatic breast cancer patients all over Greece. Thank you for helping us reach out to the isolated metastatic community in our country.”
My Alma was one of twenty organisations awarded a SPARC MBC Challenge grant in 2017, with the specific aim of developing a digital app supporting Greek-speaking patients in Greece.
The app was designed based on the questions that MBC patients often and routinely ask through the “My Alma Helpline”. The app called “My Alma” provides useful information about MBC and ways to deal with different aspects of the disease. The content also includes motivational support for how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and increase compliance to treatment. Additionally, the app suggests ways to improve patients’ quality of life. The app features content such as:
The app has been developed in a user-friendly way and has the potential to reach all Greek-speaking MBC patients, especially those who have limited access to information and services, or who live low-income settings where support may be most needed.
My Alma collaborated with Medical School of The University of Thessaly to develop and launch the app. The app was launched via two press conferences in Greece, which generated national media coverage and interest about MBC in Greece as well as the importance of the project.
Within two months of the launch, more than 200 users downloaded the app and My Alma received positive feedback from users. In order to further promote the app, pamphlets were produced and distributed in 10 hospitals around Greece.
The success of the app has been since recognised by two awards in innovation: the Greek Healthcare Αward and the Greek Mobile Excellence Awards 2019.
My Alma’s future plans are to create a version of the app in English.
Organisation’s website: Hellenic Association for Women with Breast Cancer (In Greek and English)
App webpage: My Alma App
Video on the app: My Alma Promo
(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the SPARC reports)