Athenex features real patients in first oncology campaign as it readies key breast cancer filing

Nine metastatic breast cancer patients tell their stories online in Athenex's awareness campaign for the disease. (Athenex)

Buffalo, New York-based Athenex, in advance of a key FDA application, is launching its first metastatic breast cancer (MBC) awareness campaign with nine real patients who share their stories and advice around feelings of anger, loneliness and hope.

The goal of the “Facing MBC Together” online campaign is twofold: Address the isolation of MBC by showing others they’re not alone, and provide tangible digital tools for practical and emotional support. The core of the campaign is its website, complete with educational information, resources, patient stories and digital tools.

One of the tools is a downloadable app patients can use to create a personalized support group. Features include a task calendar, real-time video chat coordination and a health update blog. The app is designed to help patients with tasks and offer support but also to give family and friends ways to offer tangible help at a time when they may not know what to say or do.

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“Facing MBC Together” is Athenex's first oncology campaign and comes as the company readies its FDA application for Oraxol to treat MBC. The campaign was built on insights from a study by the Cancer Support Community that investigated the social functioning of patients with an MBC diagnosis. The researchers found that MBC patients measured a lower social functionality than the general population, with patients citing more difficulty accomplishing normal amounts of work as well as more trouble doing activities with friends and family.  

“One of the things that really jumped out when we reviewed the study was this overwhelming sense of isolation and aloneness that they feel once they are diagnosed with metastatic disease,” said Tim Cook, Athenex senior vice president of global oncology. “We really felt if we could elevate the voices of people living every day with metastatic breast cancer that it would help other people understand the importance of reaching out.”

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The stories from the patients offer realistic and honest assessments of how they feel, along with their advice and support networks.

One of the profiled patients, for instance, is Jamil, a nonprofit chief financial officer, MBC cancer advocate and mother of three boys whose husband is also a cancer survivor. In her video, she says through cancer “you meet the best people even though it’s the worst club.” Her advice to others is to attend an event or join an MBC support group—she suggested METAvivor, Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Susan G. Komen—to figure out what kind of support you need and ask for it.

Cook said Athenex will continue to build out the campaign through the year and promote it through social media, while the patients featured are independently doing the same.