The power of problem-solving: Oxford alumna Ani’s journey from cancer survivor to innovator
When Ani Haykuni was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer in 2015, she refused to give up. Instead, she used her problem-solving skills to create Vann, a digital platform for people affected by cancer, which launches soon. Discover her journey from engineer to cancer-surviving entrepreneur.
Seven years ago, I could have been dead. Instead, I’m very much alive and thriving, and I’m about to change the world for cancer patients.
Before cancer, I used to be a forestry engineer. It brought together my two loves: spending time in nature and solving problems. Whatever the problem, I had to think it through and solve it no matter how much time it would take. I used to ask myself, “why did I come to this world and what is my mission”. Eventually, the answers to those questions found me.
I’ve now lived through cancer twice. I will never forget the moment when I was first given my diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer, particularly seeing my mother’s eyes fill up with tears. But instead of being defeated, I decided to look at it as another problem that I had to solve. Giving up was never an option for me and it never will be.
Right from my diagnosis in 2015, I had the privilege of working with other cancer patients and their families. I learned that the majority of us were facing similar issues, from severe side effects of treatments to unanswered questions about the disease. Even the most experienced oncologist cannot provide all the answers because there is still a lot that we need to learn about cancer.
After my second diagnosis in 2019, I was certain that a solution would need to be found to unite people affected by cancer around the world, motivate and help one another to find answers to questions that bother most of us. I then joined Oxford University Innovation’s Incubator programme and founded Vann, a digital platform, one of its kind, for people affected by cancer – ‘the Vann’.
It provides support and motivation to people who have been through cancer, creates a safe and positive environment for them, offers in-app surveys and allows the public to engage and support others when they are going through difficult times. The surveys will also contribute to research and fill information gaps about cancer. Most importantly Vann is a friend, that fun and honest friend that each of us very often needs when times get tough.
It’s been a long journey with a lot of challenges or rather opportunities, a very positive and learning period for me regardless of my health issues. I came to realise that fears had no place in my life anymore. Fears were just a waste of time.
My team and I are up for a big challenge, and we are dedicated to achieving our mission to change the world for cancer patients. I’ve come a long way in the last eight years because I believed in Vann. So, please believe in it and believe in us. Please join our global movement to increase our knowledge and support for people living with cancer and beyond.