Chatting about cancer
Junior twin sisters, Aaliya and Asta Lalani, raise awareness about cancer through podcast.
December 17, 2021
Junior twin sisters, Asta and Aaliya Lalani, decided to pursue a small project in sixth grade, but little did they know that their project would soon turn into a podcast with over 35,000 interactions.
It all began with a sixth-grade project at Killian Middle School in which Aaliya and Asta were given an assignment to make a positive impact on their school community. As their project, they decided to host a school-wide event where they gathered students to make cards for cancer patients. The event raised cancer awareness among students at their school and brought them together to learn more about cancer, fueling Aaliya and Asta’s passion to raise more cancer awareness.
Following the project, Aaliya and Asta started an organization, Care4Cancer, in 2020 as a way to continue raising awareness for cancer among a wider audience. Care4Cancer is a podcast that features people who have had cancer or have a connection to cancer.
“We were passionate about [cancer awareness] and we wanted to see what we could do in helping spread the news [about cancer],” Aaliya said. “When you look at the statistics [about] heart disease and cancer, [you’ll see that it] is such a big killer not only in the U.S., but also around the world. When you look at those numbers, it makes you reflect and think about how much of an impact [cancer] has around the world.”
As of December 2021, Care4Cancer has had 35,000-plus interactions and accounts reached through their TikTok, Instagram and podcast services. Their website consists of all the platforms that audiences can stream their podcast on, while their Instagram and TikTok accounts post sneak peeks into future episodes and informational graphics about cancer prevention.
“We hope to spread awareness and to get people to do more research on cancer [through the podcast],” Asta said. “We want them to not only make changes in their life but [to] also go out and see how they can make a difference in cancer warriors’ lives.”
Aaliya and Asta start each episode by researching who they want to interview, contacting the person and then editing the podcast, which can take anywhere from a few weeks to two months. Although the procedure can be time-consuming, Aaliya and Asta said hearing powerful stories of cancer survivors is something they enjoy.
“We’re very happy with the amount of people we’ve been able to reach not only through Instagram, but also [through] the podcast — we’ve made so many new connections along the way,” Aaliya said. “We’ve learned so much about cancer that [we] would’ve never known [about if we hadn’t started Care4Cancer].”
Asta and Aaliya’s close friend and a daily podcast listener, junior Tanya Hassan, said Care4Cancer is a wonderful podcast that helps bring more cancer awareness to teens in high school. Hassan said Aaliya and Asta do a good job of teaching what the audience wants to know about cancer in a fun but informational way.
“I think Care4Cancer is really just an amazing platform,” Hassan said. “I’m learning about different types of cancer that I didn’t even know existed. I think they’re doing a really awesome job with getting guests on this show and sharing a lot of insight [about cancer]. I’m really proud of them.”
The first person Aaliya and Asta interviewed on their podcast, Brooke Dahlinger, had an increase in the number of listeners when her episode was released. Later, Aaliya and Asta found out that Dahlinger died of colon cancer. They believe that her family utilized their episode to hear her and have a remembrance of her, and while Aaliya and Asta were saddened by her passing, they felt proud to share her story with their podcast listeners. Although Care4Cancer provides information about cancer, it also provides a sense of comfort and closure to families of those who have died of cancer and were featured on the Care4Cancer podcast before their passing.
“If you listen to our podcast, [you know that] ultimately our goal is that [our audience] is listening to us and then making an impact themselves by sharing what they learned with their family members,” Asta said. “Our motto after every podcast episode is, ‘show you care by being aware.’ It’s a very small phrase, but it really means so much.”