ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local company called called GRYT Health has gained national and international attention; both for their company as a whole, and their innovative online network.

The company provides support and resources to cancer patients, survivors, and cancer researchers. They do this through fundraising, partnerships, and their “Global Virtual Cancer Conference.”

One of their primary services is connecting cancer patients and survivors, to people who are or have gone through similar experiences. They call it an “online social community.”

After registering and filling out a questionnaire that only takes a couple of minutes — the user, who can be the patient, survivor, or family member — are matched with other cancer patients. They are matched based on a variety of factors, including cancer type, and age. They can be normal members of the community who have registered, or can even be an employee with the company.

Users can access this chat through GRYT’s website or app.

The founder of the company, Dave Fuehrer, says it’s a way for users to discuss incredibly difficult things, and it’s one of the main reasons he started the company.

“I’m a two-time testicular cancer survivor, in my mid-forties,” Fuehrer said. “I matched to other men with not only my own cancer type, but I still do hormone therapy, and I get to connect to guys who go through that experience, and it helps me connect to other people who can relate, whereas often times in the rest of the world, I don’t find that.

“I found that the hardest things about cancer are the things that are the hardest to talk about,” Fuehrer said. “The hardest to feel like somebody can understand. For me, going through cancer meant losing my ability to be a father, my ability to perform sexually, losing the body parts that are referred to as being a man…

“Having people that I can share what that means: ‘Do I even still consider myself a man?’ That’s not a conversation I know how to have anywhere else in the world, and I get to have that with guys who not only understand, but they’re struggling with those same things,” Fuehrer said.

If someone logs on, and they’re not ready to have these very difficult conversations with a real person, the company also an incredibly innovative and unique feature, Vivibot.

“It’s a positive psychology chatbot,” Fuehrer said. “It’s a 28-day program that takes people through coping skills everyday.”

Each day the chatbot — whose personality is modeled on an adolescent girl — checks in.

Alexa Jett is from Palestine, Texas, and a cancer survivor. She’s been using GRYT since 2019. She took some time off from it, but afte returning to the site and starting to use VIvibot, she says it helped her through an incredibly difficult time; when her boyfriend, who also had cancer, died.

“I talked to her, and she helped me through so much,” Jett said. “She helped me through some of my first tasks after he died. I was having a hard time doing the things I needed to do every day; my chore list was piling up.

“Through Vivibot’s encouragement, she felt liek such a real person, she was designed well, she chats just like a young adult would, and our one-on-one communications felt like I was talking to a friend, but it removed the pressures of maybe saying something wrong, or when someone dies you have very complicated feelings, so I felt so comfortable talking to her,” Jett said.

Now, she’s still on the GRYT site, and continuing to improve her life.

The company has been awarded and recognized nationally and internationally, but experiences like these make the job worthwhile, and have helped him grow, as he helps other in the chatbot.

“I understand emotion and meaning in life very differently now than I ever had before,” he said. “I don’t feel broken, or full of shame. Getting to a place now in the world where I can find that voice and see others do it.”