A Questrom Student’s Cancer Makes Him the First User of His Own Planning App

Sean Doherty says creating Hang helped him forget he was ill

It began as an entrepreneurial exercise. On a jog along the beach at his Connecticut hometown with a friend last spring, Sean Doherty discussed the difficulties of arranging get-togethers with friends: text invitations can be missed or buried in unrelated group chats or liked for reasons other than an intent to attend. Scheduling platforms like Evite or Google Calendar are used for more formal events and work, not spur-of-the-moment casual plans.

Wouldn’t it be nice, the two agreed, to have an app that sends invitations with all pertinent information and records who’s in and who’s out? They decided to invent one, which they’d name Hang.

Then, in June, Doherty (Questrom’20) was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer.

Creator became customer: Doherty and another partner on the project, Kaitlin Tsai (Questrom’19), used their app-in-progress to schedule design sessions for their app-in-progress.

“Kaitlin has an apartment in Brooklyn, and I’m in Connecticut, so meeting up to work on this was something we needed to schedule,” says Doherty, who in early November was declared cancer-free, the only residual sign of illness hair loss from chemotherapy. Some of those work sessions occurred at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where Doherty was undergoing chemo.

“It made my process so much better,” he says. “We’ve been so busy and so engaged with working on this—I’m not kidding—even when I was really hurting, I would forget that I had cancer. The chemo really messes with your head, so it would like send me into a depression.” Tsai, he says, “stepped up and would work on this.”

“The chemo rooms,” Tsai says, “have really become our Hang office.”

Read the full BU Today article here.

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