RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Being a cancer survivor, The Skinny can certainly identify with the need for a new video game being developed by RTP-based Virtual Heroes.

Jerry Heneghan, a former Apache helicopter gunship pilot, and his crew are teaming up with the appropriately named HopeLab for “Re-Mission 2.” It’s designed to help young cancer patients deal with the challenges they are going to face in combating the disease.

They learn that their mission – to beat the killer in their body – is not impossible.

The new version is backed by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, whose namesake is a testicular cancer survivor and the world’s premier bicyclist. Also lending financial support are the Annenberg Foundation and Vivendi. Pam Omidyar, wife of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, launched HopeLab.

Nothing strikes fear in a person’s heart more than to hear a doctor say: “It’s cancer.”

Imagine what the feelings must be for a young person, let alone a 52-year-old veteran of life like I was when diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer four years ago.

Despite initial fears and concerns that ignite a frenzy of research into the whats, whens, whys, and hows-to-treat cancer that occurs before the official diagnosis, the final verdict triggers even more intense desires for knowledge.

launched a version of in 2006 and is incorporating lessons learned from young players into the new one. More than 140,000 copies of the original have already been distributed free of charge across 81 countries.The new version was announced at the Games for Health conference in Boston.

Given ’ globally respected expertise in virtual learning technology and so-called serious games, The Skinny has no doubt that Re-Mission 2 is going to be a success. The company has already helped the U.S. Army train warriors for battle and EMTs for the world’s most dire emergencies. Now Heneghan and company are making the serious world of fighting cancer more understandable in an interative, entertaining way.

But the bet here is that a lot of adults will want to “play,” too.

“Re-Mission combines biologic accuracy with an honest depiction of the challenges faced by young cancer patients,” HopeLab says of the game.

“Through fun, interactive game play, Re-Mission illustrates what occurs inside the bodies of young cancer patients and how they can most effectively fight their disease.

“Results from the largest randomized, controlled study of a video game intervention ever conducted showed that playing Re-Mission improved treatment adherence and boosted cancer knowledge and self-efficacy in teen and young adult cancer patients.”

Having spent a week in the hospital going insane with nothing to do but watch “Law & Order” reruns (the pain didn’t really encourage reading) and countless hours in chemotherapy labs (again, an experience not conducive to reading or TV watching), even an old guy like the Skinny would have enjoyed an educational as well as an entertaining distraction.

Here’s a tip of the hat to HopeLab, Virtual Heroes and all those behind the launch of Re-Mission 2.