Our Journey

While working for the University of Virginia Medical System (UVa) back in 2006, I kept thinking to myself How could I make an impact in the lives of cancer patients beyond what I had been doing already? As I saw patients each day for radiation or chemotherapy all of varying ages, each brought me back years earlier to the day when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some of the families had relocated their lives so they could reside close to a treatment hospital. Others had made the long commute to the office each session for the same. But each of those visits required money, time, sacrifice, and dedication from friends and family members. Emotional and financial costs were steep not only for the patient but also for their loved ones.

A spark of an idea

In 2011, several years after leaving UVa, I had an idea. What if I could create a platform that might bridge the gap and broaden cancer awareness across various parts of the world while simultaneously helping those affected by cancer—at least financially.

When my mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer years earlier, my family endured tremendous financial hardship to cover both treatment and post treatment needs and to maintain a positive quality of life. So a platform like this would've helped alleviate some of that burden.

As I wrote and refined this concept over the next few months, I started to envision the initial financial benefit—a means for pointing families toward resources like foundations for financial assistance. So simply listing those organizations on a website would have sufficed. At this stage, I named the platform iyCare, and hired Ecstasoft, a development firm based in India, to build the platform. 

I travelled to India in 2012 to participate in a working session with Estasoft's management and team. This was my first trip to India, and I was excited to work with a team that was just as excited about the project as I was. Soon we were meeting daily, with work sessions running from 9 a.m. through 8 p.m. to layout plans. When I flew home, I was hopeful and excited to continue our collaboration across continents. We'd made great strides, and I renamed the business IYCAIRRE. But shortly thereafter, Ecstasoft folded and a new owner assumed responsibility. This I consider our first setback.

Ecstasoft's new owner chose to merge that company with his own, San Software, and assigned our project to a new team. This meant two programmers who had been working on the project, Bummuraj and Santosh, had left and a new programmer, Tamil, would take over. The same talented web designer, Siraj, would continue working with us through the transition.

Development is delayed

In 2013 we refined the platform name once more to Zhleet, and I decided to return to India as work had not progressed as anticipated. Specifically, there was no clear project management structure and there had been little coordination. After my visit, the management team assigned Raj as our new Project Manager to oversee development. But I needed to visit again that year after learning management had no interest in seeing the project through to completion given they'd made so much money from it. As the year came to an end, we were offered incomplete work—ending our business relationship with San Software. This would be our second setback.

In 2014, we opened discussions with SoftHouse Inc., a development firm based in Romania. The company's owner, Ionut, knew Tatiana, a Marketing Specialist I'd worked with previously. SoftHouse Inc. made a lot of promises and started out well. But they were unable to deliver on those promises and failed to provide us with sufficient project communication. In December of 2014 when the company was expected to deliver our completed project, management ceased responding to emails. Deadlines were missed and the job was never finished. In the end, the company quietly changed their business name to Softcartons and refused to refund payment, though it was stipulated in their contract terms. This was our third setback, one that was difficult both emotionally and financially.

In June of 2014, my son was delivered while the project was struggling. It soon became challenging to juggle both fatherhood and a full-time job along with a dream I had for helping others afflicted by cancer. But I still tried, naming my son Zhyle, coined after the business name ZhLEET meaning ‘the dream that will never die'. By year end, I faced one more obstacle, divorce—making my day to day difficult on many fronts. Still I remained confident that the dream would never die despite thousands of dollars spent and no product to show for it. This ushered in the fourth phase of the project and our work with Alfredo.

In 2015, we hired Alfredo to work on Project ZHLEET. Alfredo opted to build the platform using WordPress, which was not suitable technology for this type of project. So the technology became an obstacle. On the day the project was slated for delivery, Alfredo failed to check his laptop in like he'd promised. So we were left with no product and no legal backing as recourse to claim the development work for which we'd paid. After this fourth major setback, having invested so much money and down to our last penny, we shifted into the next chapter of our adventure—a much needed break for the month of December.

But three months later, I picked up the project once more. Read more

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