Once upon a time, I was a rising star at a high-tech giant.  My job as an eCommerce consultant was to help big businesses like Disney build big websites to sell you everything you need: toys for your kids, clothes for your family, tools to fix your house and treats to feed your dog or cat. I was preparing a trip to meet with a very important client when my life changed forever.

I woke up one Labour Day looking like Bart Simpson only more yellow.  Instead of going on a business trip to meet with my customers to complete testing for their website ahead of a big launch, I was sitting in a hospital bed while doctors ran every kind of painful and embarrassing test imaginable to figure out what was wrong with me.  All we knew for sure was that there was a massive tumor in my liver and I was in grave danger.

Eventually I was diagnosed with Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a 1 in 5,000,000 liver cancer.  Over the last few years, I’ve fought for my life through three bouts of this disease.  Experiencing the cancer world as a patient in hospitals in three different countries, I’ve learned a lot about health care.  I’ve marveled as I’ve borne witness to countless missed opportunities to alleviate the pain, suffering and frustration of patients going through terrifying ordeals.

Today I am optimistic about my future and looking to make a difference. I want to fix some of the problems I’ve seen and experienced.  In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi describes the concept of a “blue flame,” where a person’s passions intersect with their talents.  I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t searching for my blue flame.

After everything I’ve been through in the last few years I think I have finally found it. I realized that where my passions and talents meet is in developing software for health care.  I believe that my knowledge of software design combined with my experience as a cancer patient gives me a unique perspective on this emerging field.

My mission – my “blue flame” –  is to create software that helps patients (and their families) when they are the most vulnerable.  I am passionate about improving the lives of people suffering from debilitating illnesses.  To achieve my goals, I propose that we gather together as many smart, creative and passionate people as we can; let’s get our creative juices flowing and start crafting innovative tools to help people through their darkest hours.  At SXSW and beyond I hope to meet with others to share these ideas and collaborate on exciting solutions.

I am here and I am ready to make a difference.

Thank you,
Tal