Friday, October 14, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Who Needs It? WE DO!

One year ago: 136 former cheerleaders, 1 pop singer and 2 passionate organizations launched a campaign to put the AWARENESS back into Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Before I elaborate, I must first thank Sue Schick for this wonderful opportunity. Sue has been on the Komen Philadelphia Affiliate Board of Directors for two years... UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania, an avid supporter for longer. It is no exaggeration when I say that in that short time, Sue and UnitedHealthcare have helped bring revolutionary approaches to our breast cancer movement.

From simply sharing a blogging forum, to putting us on the worldwide stage, UnitedHealthcare invests incredible passion to create opportunities that empower our fight against breast cancer. They are always thinking of ways to do things bigger and better. This type of ambition drives our victories, for we can evolve, but breast cancer cannot… it has no new strategies to throw at us.

A look at National Breast Cancer Month (NBCAM) demonstrates this perfectly. Over the past several years the concept of this month has become harder for people to wrap their heads around. This is both good and not-so-good.

The positive: unlike 15 years ago, entire communities have grown so aware of breast cancer issues, and so vigilant in practicing early detection, they don't feel a need for a one-month observance to motivate action in the cause. The negative: huge populations still exist for whom this is not true; it is critical the communities that are "well aware" continue to talk about the disease and bring the rest into the awareness that saves lives.

Last summer, the Affiliate was feeling the negative impact of this lax attitude toward awareness. As you know, you can't go anywhere in October without being bombarded with pink. Every newscast contains breast cancer messages. Every church, school and organization holds a fundraiser. This inundation actually made people increasingly unresponsive to our calls to action. We asked ourselves: How do we engage our communities without giving them more of what they already tell us they have too much of?

Our answer was to do something we never did before – create a video. “Team Ra-Ras Kicks Breast Cancer” was launched on Youtube on October 4, 2010. As Exclusive Video Sponsor, UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania committed to donate 10 cents to Komen Philadelphia Affiliate each time the performance was viewed on YouTube up to a total of $100,000, or 1 million views…a benchmark obtained in under four weeks! UnitedHealthcare immediately presented us with a $100,000 check.

The company then presented us a challenge. It agreed to contribute an additional $50,000 when views of the “Team Ra-Ras” video reach 5 million, plus another $50,000 when it reaches 8 million views, for a possible $200,000 total contribution. So click on and help us reach our goals.

Thanks in large part to UnitedHealthcare's ingenuity and generosity, the video exceeded our expectations, helping us rise above the disenchantment and mobilizing people worldwide to embrace breast cancer awareness. Reactions continue to demonstrate people of every generation long for connection and the knowledge they are not alone in a world where breast cancer takes 1,252 lives every day.

When asked to explain the real power of the video, I reference a Blog-Talk discussing about it. A caller from China saw the video and was confused as we talked about survivors living normal lives. In her understanding, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer had only two choices: cut off your breasts and live in shame, or die. This woman lived in such horrible fear, and there are millions like her. In took just four minutes to change her life… to make her AWARE of the reality… to instill HOPE that her children's world will not be one darkened by the shadow of breast cancer.

THIS is why we celebrate NBCAM every October… and I hope you continue to celebrate it with Komen, UnitedHealthcare and your loved ones until breast cancer is eradicated from our world. You can start right now by viewing – and sharing – Team Ra-Ras Kicks Breast Cancer.

Elaine Grobman, Executive Director
The Philadelphia Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

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