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App helps young adults manage medications in fight against cancer

SALT LAKE CITY – The fight against cancer has a new weapon: a smart phone app.

Sara Goeser is a college student studying to be a nurse. She loves camping, snow and riding dirt bikes. She’s also a cancer survivor.

Doctors found a softball-sized tumor resting on her heart in 2015. Goeser is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and she said she gets a lot of help and support from friends, family—and now her phone.

“I have been using the app since 2015,” she tells Fox 13.

A recent study by the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah showed that adolescents and young adults have not had as much success surviving cancer as children and older adults.

The study suggests that this group gets distracted by their busy lives and doesn’t take their medicine as often.

“I am a certified nursing assistant at Seasons Health and Rehab, and I am also a full-time student at the University of Utah,” Goeser said of her busy schedule.

Researchers decided to test if a smart phone app could help remind teens and young adults to take their medicine.

“I was in my hospital bed, and I had the Amazon group just wander into my room,” Goeser recalled. “And they said, ‘Would you be interested in joining our research study?’ …and I said of course I would be OK with this,” Goeser said.

The app reminds Goeser when to take her medicine, helping her keep track of dozens of pills per day.

“You’re not so worried about, ‘Oh, what medication do I have to take?’ and then you have to sort through all your medications on the table or wherever you keep your medications,” Goeser said.

Goeser’s family can also log into the app and see what she's taking and her dosages.

The 12-week study concluded that the medication reminder app helped teens and young adults stay on top of their treatments. Goeser agrees with that finding.

“It’s just really helpful, knowing that you are taking care of your health and yourself, but you’re also having a fun time with it, with music and the app itself,” she said.

Goeser said she remains optimistic.

“The doctors didn't think I would save my hair nor come out of the hospital alive, so I proved them wrong,” she said.