For me, it was a sobering departure.

I am predisposed to look at the lighter side of virtually everything with which I come into contact. But, hard as I tried, there was nothing light or humorous I could find about cancer. It may seem odd, then, that it would translate into some of the most uplifting and rewarding work with which I’ve been privileged to do.

We are a creative partner for New York City-based Global Strategy Group, one of the preeminent public relations firms in the country. Our shared mission is to illuminate the extraordinary work being done in cancer research and treatment at the University of New Mexico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, to boost support for that institution.

Global Strategy Group’s research told us that what moved perceptions were authentic, emotional patient stories. Our creative team, led by Executive Creative Director Jeff Patch, developed a creative strategy that was built around patients telling their stories in concert with their clinicians. We called the campaign “Life Stories.”

Our campaign reflects the many journeys cancer patients traverse with their disease; their approach to their path as varied and as individualized as the cancers themselves. Although it is fully dimensional in media scope – radio, digital, outdoor, print and paid search – it is the medium of television that offers the most influential story-telling vehicle – the most evocative way to tell redemptive stories of hope.

We meet Adam, a young man whose cancer story seemed destined to be short and tragic. But through a comprehensive team approach, UNM surgeons and oncologists have given Adam the opportunity to pursue his dreams in music. Adam’s journey was marked by fear and uncertainty, which you experience in this TV spot. 

And we meet Judy, a woman on uncommon spirit and energy who has lived with not one but two cancers for more than 20 years in three states. This TV spot reveals her unique approach to her cancer journey. She doesn’t just battle her cancer; she throws it to the ground and stomps on it.

We also meet Aracely, a woman whose journey with breast cancer featured cultural and language challenges, to go along with a 200-mile drive each way to the Cancer Center for her treatment. Through the love of family, she has overcome breast cancer to get back to what she loves most: cooking for her loved ones.

The work has been fulfilling because we’ve gotten to know so many people whose bravery, courage and outlook is inspiring. And just as importantly, the campaign is working. Poll data shows the perception of UNM Hospitals have grown to better than 80% positive, and record high.