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Julianna Borgia, Associate Media Director
Breast Cancer is the second most common cancer in women, and each October is filled with pink products to for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of this disease, which affects so many patients and families. While this effort to encourage screen and preventative care is critically important, it’s also important to recognize those patients struggling with their diagnosis and treatment.
This year, an estimated 284,200 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with invasive Breast Cancer. While Breast Cancer is often perceived as a treatable cancer, not all Breast Cancer patients feel that they can relate with the celebrative stories of hope and survivorship. Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) patients are often overlooked during Breast Cancer Awareness month and are living with the reality that there is no cure for MBC.
Most would argue that greater focus should be put towards research and finding a cure for MBC, in addition to the prevention narrative that the pink ribbon movement tells. While most cases are recurrent cases of early Breast Cancer, around 6% of women are first diagnosed after the cancer has spread. The fact that only 28% of women with MBC will live longer than five years from diagnosis is overshadowed by the pink messages of early detection and risk reduction.
Up to 30% of early-stage Breast Cancer patients develop MBC, but less than 5% of U.S. breast cancer funds raised go towards metastatic research. Most MBC patients do not feel that their experiences align with what the pink ribbon represents. So METAvivor, a nonprofit advocacy organization, reimagined the iconic ribbon using green (renewal, hope, immortality), teal (healing and spirituality) and pink (metastatic cancer originating in the breast) to call attention to the uniqueness of metastatic disease and the resounding need to fund MBC research.
October 13 is nationally recognized as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. One of the most notable events is METAvivor’s #LightUpMBC, where hundreds of global landmarks light up in green, pink and teal to illuminate the greater need for MBC awareness and funding. This one day of Breast Cancer Awareness month is helpful in drawing attention to MBC, but there is a greater need to continue the conversation beyond October.
Understanding the Patient Journey and Power of Storytelling
Each cancer story is different. Regardless of age or genetic background, it is important to understand the various steps that come before and after a diagnosis in order to identify meaningful messaging and impactful touchpoints.
PHM’s media planning is rooted in audience research. We work to understand the entire ecosystem to ensure that our messaging is tailored to each step of the treatment journey and important micro-moments – from diagnosis to treatment. Alignment with metastatic specific content is key to fill the white space that exists and promote additional information and resources.
Given the size of the patient population, the highest quality comes from health endemic sites where patients are actively researching condition information and the latest in treatment advancements. The greatest engagement comes with partners that are rooted in community or forums where patients can connect directly with each other. While each journey is different, there is deep value in connection and empathy when battling a terminal diagnosis.
Patient influencers can be empowering and bring the reality of living with Breast Cancer to light. Their stories humanize the anxiety of testing, loss of identity and fear of disease progression that patients live with on a day-to-day basis. It’s imperative to give these stories a platform to further condition education and reinforce the everyday struggles that are often overlooked. We want to push the typical executional boundaries and look to maximize relevancy and impact through ownable, attention grabbing activations, like features during morning news and even branded integrations across daytime talk shows.
At PHM, we believe in the power of storytelling to amplify the voices of these patients. Their personal experiences work to support and propel the need for research, while generating awareness of treatment advancements. Breast Cancer exists beyond a single day or month of the year and it is critical to continue the conversation.
Head to metavivor.org for more information on Metastatic Breast Cancer research, support and awareness.
Connect with Julianna on LinkedIn.
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