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A graduate of Homestead High School has created an app for breast cancer patients to help them combat cancer.

The MyPath app provides users with various resources for those who are suffering from breast cancer. According to a news release from the Mequon-Thiensville School District, the app offers tabs for treatment, day-to-day issues, overall health and wellness, emotional support, and weekly surveys to customize the app.

Maia Jacobs graduated from Homestead High School in 2005 and is now in her fifth year seeking a Ph.D. in human-centered computing from Georgia Tech, according to Ben Snedeker, communications manager for the Georgia Tech College of Computing.

Snedeker said her work on the app has led to her being named a 2016 James D. Foley Scholar as well as being recognized in the 2016 President's Cancer Panel Report.

Jacobs developed the app with her research partner, Aditi Dhar, at the university.  Jacobs also conducted research on how "computational tools can help manage chronic illnesses," according to the release.

In a posting on the Georgia Tech website, Jacobs said many health applications focus on a single need or moment.  Instead, she said she's "trying to push away from that and develop these more holistic and adaptive systems that can support people’s needs as they do change over time.”

Jacobs called her time at Homestead an important academic foundation for her future success.

“I never thought I would end up in a career that involved so much writing, and Homestead was definitely the first place I learned to develop strong evidence-based arguments," she said. "I undoubtedly used those foundational composition skills taught at Homestead throughout my undergraduate studies and ultimately in my research publications as a doctoral student.”

Following her time at Homestead, Jacobs attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in engineering.  While in Madison, she volunteered with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, where she became more familiar with the challenges cancer patients face.

According to the Georgia Tech posting, she also had experience with cancer closer to home; Jacobs' grandmother is a three-time cancer survivor.

For the last five years, Jacobs has been working on the app project. Dhar joined her in 2015.

Initially, the project was called MyJourney Compass which has more general information which later evolved into MyPath.  The MyPath app has received funding from the National Cancer Institute.

Currently in beta mode, the app is only available to participants in the Harbin Cancer Clinic for the time being, according to the Georgia Tech posting.  It said Jacobs hopes the application could be used on a broader scale one day.

“As we work on this and future studies, our focus will continue to be on developing better technologies that consider the broad and dynamic challenges individuals with chronic illnesses face on a daily basis,” Jacobs said. “Our hope is that the inclusion of this work in the report provides a platform for raising awareness of this need and allow us to engage in collaborations around the country.”

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