Nfld. & Labrador

This St. John's doctor is behind an app to put a little om on your phone

Cancer survivor and physician Nihkil Joshi — also known as Dr. C — created an app to help others through physically painful experiences.

Cancer survivor Dr. Nikhil Joshi created app to help others through chronic pain

Nikhil Joshi developed the app after using meditation during his own battle with cancer. (Nikhil Joshi/Submitted)

A St. John's physician who is well-known for sharing his personal battle with cancer is now trying to help others going through similarly painful situations, with a meditation app for people with chronic illnesses.

Nikhil Joshi is one of the developers of the app Medical Meditation, which guides people through meditations specifically designed to cope with a range of issues, from dealing with a cancer diagnosis, to pre-surgery anxiety, to abdominal pain.

"Our system does an amazing job of dealing with the medical part of the illness," said Joshi, "but the stress of being ill and being sick is something you have to deal with in your own mind."

Joshi knows about dealing with those stressors after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2013, a struggle he documented with the CBC series Dr. C.

Years later, Joshi can still easily recall the roller-coaster of emotions that accompanied his cancer: from being floored at the diagnosis, to the toll of chemotherapy, to the continual hope for a positive scan.

During the entire experience, he meditated.

"I think it makes a huge difference in how your deal with it, and perhaps even in how you experience it, and how your loved ones experience that illness,"he told CBC Radio's On The Go.

The app offers meditations tailored to specific conditions. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

One part of the puzzle

The app walks users through a range of conditions. In its development, Joshi pored over studies and gathered evidence as to which illnesses and issues benefited from meditation in order to select the playlist.

While meditation does help, Joshi said it is just one piece of the wellness puzzle.

"We can exert mental power over our physical feelings as part of the solution," he said. "It's not the whole solution."

He also hopes the app helps make meditation more accessible to people who may not be able, or want to attend a class.

"I think technology is really helping us go past geographical and financial barriers, and reach people we never would've," he said.

The app is free, and Joshi vows to keep it that way. He's hoping to pay his app bills eventually by partnering with a charity to help match patients with clinical trials. 

Medical Meditation is available for both Apple and Android phones.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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