By Amelia Garcia-Burke

Did you know that over the course of a lifetime, about 1-in-8 American women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer? This year alone, more than 250,000 women and more than 2,000 men will be diagnosed with new cases of breast cancer.

As we head into the fall – specifically October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – we will start to see the signs of increased focus on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The National Football league (NFL) will pull out its pink gear, the American Cancer Society will hold its “Making Strides” Race, and #BreastCancerAwareness will trend on Twitter.

Yet, research suggests that these traditional communication strategies have not been particularly effective in reaching key audiences and at increasing the public’s understanding and adoption of preventive behaviors. This is often because they neither  use the right communication channel nor the proper messaging, or they do not do a good job of addressing the fears, concerns or cultural aspects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Rather, what is missing is a targeted approach to working with bloggers and other influencers to spark peer-to-peer discussions about breast cancer risk, prevention, diagnosis and treatment options, and provide both informational and emotional support.

Indeed, some of these conversations are already happening.

A quick search for breast cancer blogs returns thousands of options. These blogs serve a great purpose. Their voices are honest and raw as they share their thoughts on cancer, physical appearance, relationships, and death.

As Healthline.com writes about one such blogger, Accidental Amazon:

“Not only will her raw and real voice inspire you, but you’ll feel as if you have a friend who truly understands how you’re feeling.”

But these types of blogs are not enough. We all know women (and men) who may be living with breast cancer but they’re not blogging about it, openly. Moreover, men and women living with a breast cancer diagnosis are still consuming information from other environments, e.g. popular culture, fashion, recipe blogs.

Working with a variety of influencers to customize breast cancer information in different ways allows for critical health information to be effectively disseminated to a mix of people: meeting them where they are on their own terms.

cancer treatment influencer

For instance, a food blogger could write a post about breast cancer focusing on what it is like to go through treatment and include food recommendations and/or recipes that are nutrient rich but still appropriate to cancer treatment.

Critical to the success of such an endeavor is the collaboration with a health expert. In the case of the food blogger, perhaps talking with a cancer doctor or nutritionist would ensure that the information being shared is accurate, safe and evidenced-based.

Working together – public health communicators and online influencers alike – can ensure that important conversations about health topics like breast cancer can take place in online environments where people are consuming and engaging with content on daily basis and are open to receiving the information.

Ultimately, we all know that if you or someone you love has a health issue like breast cancer, connecting with people who have walked in your shoes can make a world of difference.

Let’s work together to make that a regular part of the blog reader-Instagram follower appetite. 

For more inspiration and guidance on brand awareness campaigns, check out these posts:

With nearly 15 years of experience in digital, social, and mobile media, Amelia is an innovator in the digital space for public health. She hearts all things social media and blogs at socialibriumm.tumblr.com. Connect with there or @socialibriumm on Twitter!