Lung cancer claims more lives in the U.S. every year than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined1, yet remains a disease that’s rarely talked about compared to its ‘mainstream’ counterparts. One organization aiming to change that is Free to Breathe, which was founded in 2001 to raise the profile of lung cancer and double overall survival by 2022.
As part of November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM), Free to Breathe has unveiled its ‘Flip Out’ campaign to encourage people to ‘flip out’ (i.e., flip an object over) and share their efforts with friends on social media.
In its first year of existence, Free to Breathe is hoping to achieve the same level of success for the Flip Out campaign as it did for Beards for Hope – an initiative that has so far raised more than $100,000.
“To spread the message that lung cancer research is underfunded, we wanted people to show themselves ‘flipping out’ about it,” said Travis Garski, social media/marketing and communications coordinator at Free to Breathe. “The idea is to create a viral trend where participants tag their friends in videos and encourage them to give it a go themselves.”
Free to Breathe is also continuing the tradition of its aforementioned Beards for Hope campaign, with the focus this year being on how a beard is worn rather than how long it can be grown.
“We felt that the idea of growing a long beard could alienate those that have a hard time growing them in the first place. Now, we want the focus to be on how well it can be worn. Hopefully, this will not only add to the campaign’s fundraising legacy but also inspire some interesting pictures!”
Outside of social media efforts, Free to Breathe will build on its awareness campaign to include an ‘Ask Me Anything’ event hosted by healthcare social network HealthUnlocked.
The talk will include two highly-respected researchers in the lung cancer community: Dr. Adam Marcus, associate professor in the department of hematology and oncology at Emory University School of Medicine, and Dr. Suresh Ramalingam, chief of thoracic oncology at Winship Cancer Institute.
“We’ve organized a talk with two well-respected physicians in the field to give our community the opportunity to ask literally anything – whether it be in regard to new treatments or just something they never had the opportunity to ask their doctor,” explained Garski. “If all goes well, we’ll no doubt incorporate these kinds of live discussions into our long-term awareness efforts.”
The final, and possibly most intriguing part of Free to Breathe’s LCAM efforts this year, is its participation in the harmonized awareness campaign hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). Working alongside a number of other patient advocacy groups in the U.S. and worldwide, Free to Breathe will contribute real-life stories of lung cancer to a sole, communal website.
“The single point website for LCAM will gather stories of hope about lung cancer, helping raise awareness of the diversity of a disease that is often only linked to smoking. We want to redefine people’s perception of lung cancer and break the stigma and shame associated with it.”
“By working with others in the field, we have the opportunity to enhance our activities. Hopefully, the result will be an improved awareness of lung cancer, leading to the potential for more research and, eventually, better care for patients.”
- American Cancer Society, 2016. Key statistics for lung cancer. Available from: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-key-statistics (accessed November 2016)