When we can’t control our bodies, we can control these other things. The Manta Planner helps with those.
Co-founder and CEO Dr. Hillary Lin recently sat down with two incredible women and breast cancer thrivers, Samira Daswani and Molly Lindquist of Manta Cares, a company transforming how we manage cancer based off of real experience.
Manta Cares started as a way for Samira to regain sense of agency during her own treatment and, through a series of serendipitous events, turned into a platform helping numerous people through their cancer journeys.
How did Manta Cares begin?
When Samira was going through breast cancer treatment, she knew that tracking symptoms and keeping close records could improve outcomes, but wasn’t given an easy way to do this. As she sat in doctors’ offices in a gown she had to hold closed, she knew she didn’t want to maneuver with a computer or her phone. She wanted something that was paper, but the red folder with loose papers her doctors gave her felt too chaotic.
She decided to make something for herself. She created some templates on InDesign and sent them to a local printer where she ordered one copy. When she went to pick it up, she was given four copies. The woman working at the printer told her, “Hey I think this could really help many people. I’m giving you three more copies to give to others.”
She gave one to a nonprofit and a year later, that nonprofit asked if they could buy a bunch of planners from her. That was the beginning of what Manta Cares is today.
The paper vs. digital experience
While the patient experience was very intentionally designed for paper, caregivers have been asking for a digital version, thus the team is working with their community to create a digital product - stay tuned 🎉
The digital version is not meant to replace the paper planners and notebooks in existence. These will continue to be the main product, as they allow Manta Cares to meet patients and their families where they’re at and having something tangible that you can hold and write in offers a sense of control and comfort
Lastly, your brain is transformed during chemo, and Samira found that she very much wanted to be able to write things down on her own time on paper
What is the difference between the Planner and Notebook?
Both help you track medications, symptoms, and stay organized on your healthcare journey
The Planner is designed to be a comprehensive platform for a patient going through treatment or a caregiver supporting a loved one
The Planner includes modules around treatment decision making and is full of templates to keep track of things
The Notebook is designed for survivors to support the long tail of survivorship to stay organized between their less frequent visits (every 3, 6, 12+ months), and it’s also intended to support people who don’t have cancer, such as those with chronic illness
The Notebook is a lighter weight version of the Planner that doesn’t mention cancer, but does still offer the most popular templates and tools
Both are meant to be one place to capture all things medical regardless of the type of disease you’re dealing with
Why does Manta Cares offer coaching?
Samira and Molly quickly realized that coaching and mental health in general is such a large, unmet need for the cancer population
Their coaching is all done by certified coaches, and it’s meant to help you adjust to your new normal and help manage burnout for caregivers
You can also find the Planner and Notebook on Amazon
Their podcast, The Patient From Hell, is available on any streaming platform and comes out every other Wednesday. It’s meant for patients, caregivers, and survivors seeking a confident way to manage complex medical conditions.
Molly’s tips for someone with cancer:
Remember you will find silver linings in there, even though it’s really hard
When going through treatment, we lose control of these experiences, but we can take control of how we channel them
If you can find those moments of joy and gratitude, it’s incredibly helpful in making it through
Samira’s tips for someone with cancer:
Oncologists are spending the time to prepare for your appointments, and as a patient, you need to do the same thing. Prepare for your appointments by:
Writing down your questions
Tacking your symptoms
Capturing your medications
Talk about what’s going on with you because the oncologist is making decisions based on information you’re telling them.