Our Story

Manta Cares was born from our founder Samira's personal experience as a cancer patient. Samira was diagnosed with breast cancer a week after turning 30. An AYA cancer survivor, she is on a mission to help patients, survivors, and caregivers thrive during their cancer journeys.

In our founder's words...

"I was lucky—I had a lot of support from my loving family and wonderful community. Despite being relatively well-prepared, battling cancer was the most overwhelming two years of my life. Sometimes I still feel utterly out of control. 

Planning helps me and my loved ones know what is going on and what the next day, week, or month will look like. Together we designed Manta Planner as a way to give back to this wonderful community of cancer patients, caregivers, and supporters that we now belong to."

— Samira

  • Samira Daswani, breast cancer survivor, cancer survivor, breast cancer awareness month, cancer advocate, patient advocacy, lumpectomy, BRCA1, double mastectomy, chemo, radiation therapy, cancer treatment, malignant tumor, causes of breast cancer

    Samira Daswani

    Samira is a healthcare strategy and design expert. She's led product design and management teams in the medical diagnostics industry, incubated and launched numerous healthcare startups. She started her career at McKinsey & Company. She has degrees from MIT, Wellesley College and Stanford University. In her spare time, she does strength training, swims, and paints. 

    Founder, AYA Cancer Survivor 
  • Molly Lindquist, breast cancer survivor, cancer survivor, breast cancer awareness month, cancer advocate, patient advocacy, lumpectomy, BRCA1, double mastectomy, chemo, radiation therapy, cancer treatment, malignant tumor, causes of breast cancer

    Molly Lindquist

    Molly, a mom and breast cancer survivor, joins Manta Cares as the strategy lead. She previously founded Consano, a 501(c)(3) crowdfunding platform for medical research, after her cancer diagnosis in 2011 at the age of 32. Molly graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics.

    Strategy Lead, Breast Cancer Thriver 
  • Christy Wang, cancer caregiver, patient advocacy, clinical trials, ketogenic diet, what is cancer, cancer month, long covid, cancer cure

    Christy Wang

    Christy is a student at Stanford University interested in using design, psychology, and data to advance social entrepreneurship and create positive change in the world. She likes to paint, read, cartoon, and go on scenic walks in her free time.

    Product & Marketing Intern 
  • Maeve Baechler, cancer survivor, what is cancer, clinical trials, cancer treatment, patient advocacy, MRI, cancer awareness month, malignant tumor, what is cancer, life coaching, cancer coaching

    Maeve Baechler

    Maeve is a doctor and life coach. She was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma at the age of 25 while attending the University of Washington School of Medicine. Her passion to connect with patients at a deeper level led her to pursue a certification in life coaching during her third year of residency. She specializes in coaching cancer patients and their caregivers. 

    Life & Cancer Coach 

Our Process

We created Manta Planner using principles of human-centered design to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test our planning tool. Gathering user feedback and reflecting on personal cancer experiences, we crafted an all-in-one resource that meets the needs of cancer patients and caregivers alike.

An in-depth dive into our human-centered design

Empathize

Our design process begins with empathizing with users of our planning tool: cancer patients and caregivers.

We conducted and analyzed interviews with key stakeholders including patients, caregivers, hospitals, non-profits, and advocacy groups to identity user needs.

Our key learnings show that stakeholders desire:

i) One organization tool for everything

ii) To gain back control of their lives

iii) A physical place to take notes and journal

iv) User friendly designs

Define

Once we have gained a comprehensive understanding of user needs, we sought to define the gap between available resources and user demands.

We asked ourselves why cancer patients and caregivers have the unique set of needs and goals they do. Through integrative research, assessment, and feedback from stakeholders, we established the following insights:

i) Symptom-tracking needs to be physical and digital

ii) Users want “actionable insights”

iii) Need for one advocate from diagnosis through survivorship

Ideate

With both high-level and concrete user needs in mind, we set about to build a solution for patients and caregivers.

Our solution emerged in the form of a planner—an all-in-one companion for those impacted by cancer, documenting their journey from beginning to end.

Prototype

The first version of our cancer planning tool was our founder's own cancer journal documenting her cancer journey from treatment to recovery and everything in between.

This prototype included sections for symptom-tracking and appointment notes, which were revised in later iterations.

The value of the our prototype was evident in our founder's recovery from breast cancer and regainment of physical and emotional health.

Test & Iterate

Manta Planner has gone through four iterations, starting with the first prototype from our founder's early days as a cancer patient seeking a tool to organize her treatment and recovery process.

Since then, Manta Planner has undergone revisions spurred by user feedback and input from leading cancer research organizations, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders.

Each updated version of Manta Planner elevates its utility, user experience, and design. Check out the current version of Manta Planner here. As always, we're eager to get your feedback on how we can improve this resource to best meet your needs.