Updated 15 March 2017

Survivor launches global cancer-fighting platform

'Cancer dojo', aims to strengthen the human immune system and enable a more positive cancer outcome.


When Conn Bertish, one of Cape Town’s top creative thinkers and a well-known cancer survivor, beat cancer in 2013, he began a process of launching a global cancer-fighting platform called "cancer dojo", which aims to empower people facing cancer with the tools and techniques shown to strengthen the human immune system and ultimately enable a more positive cancer outcome.

Read: Childhood cancer: know the facts

His ideas of using creativity to engender health and resilience were met with equal measures of applause, curiosity and scepticism.

Playful visual methodology

However, just a few months after launching the platform, Bertish’s innovative complimentary approach to combatting cancer has been given the nod by the medical fraternity in the form of an invitation to deliver the opening address at the International Society of Paediatric Oncology’s (SIOP) four day conference.

The conference, set to open on 8 October 2015, will see top paediatric oncologists from around the globe convening in Cape Town to discuss and showcase the latest advances in childhood oncology.

Read: Diagnosing cancer 

The fact that a conference of such magnitude considers this kind of thinking worthy enough to discuss speaks greatly about the medical profession’s growing appetite for exploring new ways to combat cancer in the new and booming digitally enabled age,” says Bertish.

The cancer dojo digital platform and mobile app uses a playful visual methodology (dubbed "Dojo Thinking") that embraces psychoneuroimmunology – the science behind how our minds affect how our bodies behave – and utilises online, mobile and social media technologies together with visual, auditory and community stimuli to enable people facing cancer to boost their own immune systems and augment the effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Bertish built the programme using the techniques which helped him beat cancer after being diagnosed with a rare form of adult brain tumour.

Read: Treating cancer

“While the app is being built for all people affected by cancer, it is highly relevant for kids, who are natural playful thinkers and therefore more adept at applying the 'Dojo Thinking' way to health,” concludes Bertish. 

Read more:

Foundation helps kids with cancer

Common childhood Leukaemia now curable

Child cancer survivors at risk

Image: Conn Bertish

Cancer dojo


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Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

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