WTF Lung Cancer?
Here, at Socialize Your Cause, we think one of the most important things to remember when spreading awareness about any cause is to inject as much creativity into the process as possible. Adding a creative spark to your strategy, messaging, and overall organizational culture can truly go a long way. It can help make your story remarkable and invoke a response from people, maybe even inspiring them to question “WTF?” (in a good way!)
This is exactly how, “WTF Lung Cancer?” (Where’s the Funding for Lung Cancer) came to be. The politically incorrect (and awesome) campaign was started by Jennifer Windrum of Omaha, Nebraska to raise awareness of the the major lack of funding towards the #1 cancer killer, lung cancer.
Jennifer doesn’t “do” status quo. She’s combining that attitude and the power of social media to make a difference. We applaud her creative approach and campaign strategy for tackling such a major issue and we hope to see more stuff like it in the future. So, congratulations to “WTF Lung Cancer” for being chosen as our Cause of the Week! You deserve it.
Read on for our interview with Jennifer!
How did the whole idea come about?
As a child, I always knew there would be some “cause” (at that age I didn’t know what a cause was) or something big that I was supposed to try to tackle, something to change. As I continued to grow older, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s divorce…nope. Well, maybe it’s depression. It runs in my family and I have battled it..nope.”
The minute my mom told me she had lung cancer (five years ago), I knew immediately what my “cause” was–what I was supposed to focus my attention to and make a difference. It’s a tall order, but one I am willing to fight. Here’s why:
- Lung cancer is THE number one cancer killer and THE least funded.
- My mom has never smoked.
- 60% of new lung cancer cases are diagnosed in people who have NEVER smoked or former smokers who quit decades ago.That’s right – 60%.
- Lung cancer is no longer just a smoker’s disease.
- This is my mom.
- This is an outrage!
As a former reporter and now PR/social media practitioner and blogger, I knew I had to create an attention-getting campaign to bring more awareness and funding to lung cancer and start chipping away at its stigma.
Lung cancer doesn’t have the time for political correctness. I knew I needed something very edgy, bold and simple. In the digital world, many people say, WTF? LOL, BTW, etc. I wanted to tap into that relevant language in some fashion. I was lying in bed one night and thinking through all of the many acronyms, seeing if I could come up with one that matched my key campaign message – FUNDING. Finally, it just hit me. The double-entendre of “WTF?” (“What the #$ck?”) in digital speak and “WTF?” for (“Where’s the Funding?”) in my new lung cancer speak. Thus, the birth of “WTF?” (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer?”
The beauty of it is: For those who don’t get the digital “WTF?” - the campaign messaging still works. For those who get both meanings, it’s a double-punch!
Why is this cause so close to your heart? Why should others support it?
This is my mom. My mom is 65 years-old with Stage IV inoperable lung cancer, a disease in which the five-year survival rate hasn’t changed in more than 40 years – 15%. This is absolutely unacceptable. Why should others support my cause? Lung cancer is coming to a home near them, if it hasn’t already. I am not being overly dramatic. You don’t have to smoke to get lung cancer. Lung cancer is truly no longer just a smoker’s disease. Here are the stats:
- Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, leukemia, ovarian and cervical cancers—combined.
- 220,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. More than 161,000 will die from lung cancer this year.
- Even though lung cancer is the most deadly of all the cancers, it is the only major cancer that does not have a widely accepted screening test.
- Again, 60% of new lung cancer cases are found in people who have NEVER smoked or former smokers who quit decades ago. 60%.
In order to change any of these stats, lung cancer needs funding for research. In order to increase funding, we need to educate the true facts about lung cancer and get rid of the stigma. No one deserves lung cancer. I have created a “WTF?” community that is taking action and loudly yelling “WTF?” to change this…and we are being heard!
Do you have any other events or fundraisers that you would like others to know about?
Absolutely. For starters, “WTF?” has recently partnered with the Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF), a foundation run by a lung cancer survivor who has created a medical institute (ALCMI) where the field’s foremost researchers, clinicians, etc., are working hard to develop, and speed up the delivery of, new and more effective treatment options for lung cancer patients. In a nutshell, ALCMI is creating “personalized medicine” for lung cancer patients…and it is working. But, continued research takes funding.
BJALCF and “WTF?” have many events and fundraisers across the country in which people can get involved. The one event in which nearly everyone can get involved and make a difference is our “One in a Million” campaign. Simply donate $20. Yes, $20. The goal: Raise $20 from one million people = $20 million for research and increased lung cancer survival rates. This is absolutely doable! People can simply donate $20 right here!
In addition to events and fundraisers, I also sell “WTF?” merchandise and other fun “WTF?”-branded stuff that has been tremendously popular.
You can check out my CafePress Shop here. Again, all proceeds go to BJALCF.
What advice would you give to others that might like to take on such an amazing endeavor?
DO IT! It sounds so cliche, but if you let your passion and determination guide you, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. The key? Make sure your endeavor IS your passion. It took me a lot of time, patience and long hours outside of my previous full-time job to enable me to pursue this passion full-time. While I hate the fact that lung cancer has become my passion, I know with 100% certainty that my skills, talents and “no status-quo” attitude belong in the world of lung cancer advocacy.
What do you have planned for the future of this cause?
A TON! I started this campaign in October of 2009 by launching a Facebook page. In less than a week, “WTF?” had more than 1,000 fans. Today, we are just shy of 3,000 fans – or what I call “WTF-ers.” The most important thing is they are ACTIVE fans, participating in various social media campaigns and/or challenges to help spread the “WTF?” word. In addition to Facebook, we communicate through my “WTF?” blog and Twitter. Due to “WTFers’” increasing participation and wanting to become more involved, I am now in the process of creating “WTF Mobs” (chapters) across the country. The response has been absolutely overwhelming. “WTF-ers” and the thousands of other lung cancer patients are total warriors who have been completely ignored for far too long. Lung cancer doesn’t wait, so neither can we in making true change.
My mom will live as long as her body positively responds to, and tolerates radiation and/or chemo treatments. We cherish each moment. We have to.
My ultimate goal for “WTF?” (Where’s the Funding) for Lung Cancer? - Having to come up with a new campaign and logo that has nothing to do with lack of funding for lung cancer whatsoever…meaning cherished moments can last much longer for all lung cancer patients and their families.