Design Engineering
Showcase 2020

LightHouse: Cancer Support Group

Malvika Bhasin
Global Innovation Design
Prof. Rafael Calvo
Breaking Barriers

The cancer journey is physically and mentally exhausting where social support is extremely significant in contributing to one’s quality of life. Furthermore, patients often find hope in survivors and survivors find belonging in contributing with their stories, but many never get to experience this connection.

LightHouse is an engaging tool to facilitate social support between cancer patients and survivors through conversations, gratitude practices and playful interactions.

LightHouse - an engaging support group app for cancer survivors and patients


Psychosocial distress is a significant concern among cancer patients who experience difficult social environments and face barriers in accessing in-person support groups. Unmet needs of cancer survivors include using their experiences to assist others. Mobile phone based social interactions open up the possibility of connecting cancer survivors and patients globally to improve the psychosocial wellness of all parties involved.

By combining user-centred design methods with a focused literature review, the decisions leading to LightHouse spanned across 3 months. Interviews with current cancer patients and survivors revealed that current methods of online social support throughout the cancer trajectory are insufficient and lacking as most of them start and end with a group chat. Qualitative and quantitative semi structured interviews combined with recommendations for post traumatic growth informed the features of the final design outcome. Series of brainstorming sessions were followed by creating an information architecture and wireframes which were reiterated after discussions with the stakeholders and experts. The usability of the app was evaluated through video recorded think aloud observations and contextual enquiry.


LightHouse connects those who understand the cancer journey using the following features:

Connect - Intimate Interaction

Allows patients and survivors to find each other and connect based on filters they select. Once a profile is found, interactions of different levels are possible.

Posts - Group Chat Filters

Stressful messages on group chats sometimes result in patients feeling de-motivated while others respect the need for everyone to express their state of mind openly. Keeping this in consideration, LightHouse has multi select tags on the home page which empowers users to control the content they consume.

Pursuits - Discrete Expression

Delivering methods of expressing oneself discreetly involves a separate feature with the option of anonymity. Depending on whether the catharsis is of a negative or positive nature, objects are used as metaphors for an emotional release.

Journal - Practice Gratitude

Gratitude along with social support are factors facilitating Post- Traumatic Growth in cancer survivors. Throughout the app, sharing gratitude for the day is incentivised for increased wellness.

Fun - Build Friendships

Here, the 36 questions for intimacy to build friends out of strangers is leveraged to initiate intimate conversations topics that are beyond cancer.

 — LightHouse: Cancer Support Group


Amazing innovation n a very helpful n caring project. Will help humanity to connect in times of need. Keep it up 👍

Sabina Gupta

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