News & Publications

Starting the Immunotherapy Conversation!

July 31, 2014 | Sharon Slade

June 2014 marked the Second Annual Cancer Immunotherapy Month organized by the Cancer Research Institute. As part of our mission, we wanted to get people talking about the lifesaving potential of immunotherapy. Our team started with the belief that most people have not heard of cancer immunotherapy, what it is, and how it works. And, those who "need to know" most—patients and their families—were just not hearing about immunotherapy. Here’s a mini case study on how we tackled this challenge and kick-started the conversation.


Our team started brainstorming ideas for a splashy launch NYC-based event with all the bells and whistles needed to break through the clutter. We quickly realized that as a nonprofit with limited resources, we did not have the people, time, and money to accomplish this and we shifted our focus online and worked on high impact messaging and programming. We also needed to find corporate sponsors who were aligned with our mission to help with funding.


To launch the month, we created an awareness-building campaign to tell the story of immunotherapy called "30 Days, 30 Stories". Each day during the month of June, we published a new story about how immunotherapy changed—and saved—patients’ lives, including caregivers, research scientists, and health care professionals. The stories were showcased on our new patient website,, which launched June 1. Our marketing push included daily emails, an aggressive social media push, and support from partners such as Stand Up To Cancer and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

We felt it was important to have a signature event that could be held in person or virtually. We designated June 6 as #WhiteOutCancer Day and we encouraged supporters to wear white, take pics, and share them online to spread the word about cancer immunotherapy.

Taking the conversation online to reach new audiences was a key strategy, and one hallmark event was CRI CEO and director of scientific affairs Jill O’Donnell-Tormey’s participation in a Twitter Chat about immunotherapy (#CIMchat) along with The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, TIME, and AACR.


We raised over $175,000 and, although the dollars raised may seem small compared to other awareness months, this was an important milestone, achieving nearly 2x our fundraising goals for Cancer Immunotherapy Month. We were encouraged by the commitment from corporations who sponsored critical awareness-building and educational programs, the scientists, hospitals and research organizations, our cancer partner organizations, and community fundraisers. Our sincere gratitude to all the sponsors and supporters for joining in the movement and spreading the word.

We are most excited about the number of people "talking" about immunotherapy during Cancer Immunotherapy Month. Here are some of the WOW numbers that we used to measure success.

  • Overall, our social media reached 4.9 million people through Facebook and Twitter during June, an increase of 1.5 million people over the prior year. Notably, the "30 Days, 30 Stories" campaign captured people’s hearts and minds and put the patient "front and center" in the immunotherapy conversation. We had amazing feedback including 6,000 Facebook Likes and comments from patients and caregivers.
  • Our online #WhiteOutCancer campaign reached one-half million people thanks to participants who made a strong statement of support for immunotherapy by wearing and sharing white! View our photo album below.

  • The Twitter Chat had some impressive results! The total audience was over 16.5 million people, Cancer Research Institute tweets reached 3.5 million people, and our CEO, Dr. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, was a Top 5 Influencer (Tweet to us, @CancerResearch).

Thanks to all for making Cancer Immunotherapy Month a great success! It has been an exciting and motivating undertaking. "Thank You" from everyone at Cancer Research Institute for your support and commitment to our mission and we look forward to you joining us again next year.

Kay Snowden
This sounds like a news source to keep up with for cancer survivors, which I am, and their families.
8/4/2014 7:01:29 PM