Get [on brand] with us. (Part 3)

Lisa Weinberger is the founder of Masters Group Design, a full-service visual communication studio with comprehensive strategic branding capabilities. In the first and second parts of her contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s 25th Anniversary Blog Series, Lisa explained how her agency has helped define and strengthen LBBC’s brand identity through her team’s amazing use of design and graphics. Here’s the wrap-up to her series.

MGD was excited to lead the Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s rebranding process leading up to their 25th Anniversary. Like all things LBBC, it was a collaborative effort that engaged the community at large, volunteers, stakeholders, staff and management. Everyone had a voice. Through meetings, surveys and branding exercises. we broadened our understanding of the power and impact of the organization and the logo that represents it. We also learned about the need to more effectively communicate the unwavering and essential characteristics of LBBC: trusted, supportive, inclusive and compassionate.

For weeks, a prolific and intense concepting phase was underway at MGD’s studio. It yielded many options, including some that referenced LBBC’s longtime butterfly icon and others that sharply departed from it. Threading together the entire creative process was a focus on LBBC’s distinctive character and on creating a logo that could inspire hope.

What emerged was a matured identity for the organization.

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The new logo is a symbol of connection—connection to a community, to expert information, to a network of support. The graphic shapes embrace one another in a trusted grip, communicating the reliable nature of LBBC and their partnership with those they serve. The graphic is accompanied by a name that boldly stands in all uppercase letters, with an emphasis on “Living Beyond” to communicate hope—that people are more than a breast cancer diagnosis.

The logo was released at the start of 2015. Since then, we’ve been hard at work—first to define a strong and cohesive visual identity, and then to deploy that identity across all LBBC communications.bbTwenty-five years ago, I came to understand how adrift one can feel when facing illness. Now, as LBBC celebrates 25 years, I have had the rewarding opportunity, along with my creative team, to help them deliver the lifelines of connection, information and support. We are huge cheerleaders for the good that LBBC does, and to be able to help craft that “good” into everything they produce is a great source of pride for us.

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Congratulations to LBBC on reaching this significant milestone and for their persistence and passion in serving those affected by breast cancer.

Thank you for allowing us to design with you, for you.


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All of us at LBBC want to thank Lisa, Vicki and Benjamin, the team at Masters Group Design, for helping us through the years with your time, talent and generosity. You’ve helped make us the organization we are today!

Stories for our 25th Anniversary Blog Series will be published throughout the year.  If you have a story you’d like to share about your history with LBBC that might be featured as part of our series, contact Kevin Gianotto by email at kevin@lbbc.org.

Get [on brand] with us. (Part 2)

This is the second installment (part one can be found here) of a three part piece penned for our 25th Anniversary Blog Series by Lisa Weinberger, founder of Masters Group Design. For 9 years, MGD has played a key role in defining and strengthening LBBC’s “look” brand image.

 

In 2008, I appointed Vicki Gray-Wolfe, Creative Partner at MGD, to lead the design strategy. I knew she could translate LBBC’s needs into an aesthetic that was welcoming and accessible. Her quiet, soft and feminine style was a perfect fit. Key to her initial strategy was employing patterns as a way to signal the diversity of women that LBBC serves. Every pattern was different. The result was a suite of materials that reflected a tapestry of voices and experiences of the breast cancer community. It was a strong acknowledgment that LBBC valued those they served.

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As LBBC’s impact began to solidify, their position as a provider of definition and meaning to so many affected by breast cancer became a focal point of their messaging strategy. Kevin Gianotto, Associate Director of Marketing, described LBBC as “an organization not afraid to redefine definitions.” His idea to create a campaign around this notion was rolled out in the 2011 Annual Report, and shortly thereafter it transformed into a smart new image across their collateral. The definitions campaign reinforced LBBC’s position as an authority that actively expands and reshapes the perspective of living beyond a diagnosis.

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In 2013, big developments were afoot. The organization was growing in terms of programs, services and staff. There was an increasing interest in LBBC, not just from women but also men affected by breast cancer. And their audience of healthcare providers, family members, the medical community and funders was expanding as well. It was time to tweak the materials so that they projected a voice of inclusion and were more gender-neutral. Streamlining the identity in favor of a bolder, more expansive look was also a goal. Simply put, LBBC was bigger and more universal in their appeal. Their design materials needed to address that shift in scale.

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While the integrity of a brand rarely changes, many internal and external factors drive a brand’s visual representation. In 2015, LBBC was planning for a major move to accommodate their growing enterprise. A more responsive website—a critical tool in their suite of exceptional information—was due to launch that same year. And on the horizon was a major milestone.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s 25th anniversary.


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Lisa’s blog series, Get [on brand] with us, concludes early next week.

 

Get [on brand] with us. (Part 1)

If you know Living Beyond Breast Cancer, then you know the work of Lisa Weinberger and her team at Masters Group Design.  For almost ten years, Lisa and her colleagues have played an invaluable role in defining LBBC’s “look” and visual identity. This is the first part of a three part series Lisa has penned for our 25th Anniversary Blog Series.

Twenty-five years ago, and at the same time that Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) was born, I learned that I had a blood disease. I was 24 years old and shocked by the revelation. I’d never heard of this disease. I couldn’t pronounce it or spell it. And worse, I didn’t know a soul who had ever had it.

My life came to a screeching halt. For months, I rotated through hematologists’ offices—cumulating mountains of lab results, adjusting drug regimens and receiving invasive treatment to suppress the unwelcome stranger in my body. The experience was surreal.

I was faced with a new reality—a world where facts were scarce. There were no support groups or helplines. The lack of easy-to-access information contributed daily to my anxiety. I didn’t have the benefit of today’s robust Internet nor the connection of social media. I would have benefitted greatly if I could have learned from and networked with others who had experienced my illness. But I seemed to be one among a community of none. Never in my life did I feel so alone.

As unexpectedly as the disease had arrived, it miraculously departed about a year later. It did, however, leave an indelible mark on me. I understand the fear that illness brings, the need for information and the desire to live beyond a diagnosis.

In 1993, I launched Masters Group Design (MGD), a communications firm in Philadelphia. We help non-profit organizations crystalize their message and, through design, spread it with maximum impact. All of our clients seek to change the world in meaningful ways. And all of them make my daily work fulfilling. But there are some clients whose work resonates with me in personal and profound ways. Living Beyond Breast Cancer is one of them.

Nine years ago, my company was selected by LBBC to strengthen their marketing and educational materials. I was immediately drawn to and inspired by their mission. I knew that connecting and empowering people affected by breast cancer through information, support and community would offer them three lifelines. And, given their vision of creating a world where no one affected by breast cancer ever felt alone, I knew they understood that for those facing illness, knowing someone is with you, for you, is invaluable.

I was eager to round up the MGD team to amplify LBBC’s voice and help them gain the exposure that their important work deserved.

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Janine Guglielmino, then LBBC’s Communications Director, was responsible for guiding the projects assigned to us. I learned from her that the role of design was extremely serious and sensitive business for LBBC. The material we created needed to:

  • Speak to all women, regardless of their age, level of education or background.
  • Welcome and comfort—not intimidate.
  • Acknowledge that breast cancer was not the same experience for everyone.

Janine’s deep compassion and desire to communicate with dignity and delicacy were hallmarks of LBBC.  Her sensitivity to how information gets crafted and delivered inspired our work from day one.


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Breast cancer IS NOT the same for everyone as Lisa and her team would demonstrate, using design to visually tell LBBC’s incredible story. Be sure to check back for part 2 of Get [on brand] with us, next week.

Get [empowered] with us. (Part 2)

If you’re familiar with LBBC, you know we often speak of “a small group of women” who helped establish the organization with the help of their radiation oncologist, Marisa Weiss, MD.  Margaux Jacks’s mother, Nancy Garbowski, was one of that small group.  This is the second of a two-part blog. We posted part one earlier this week.

In the early ‘90s, my Mom, Nancy, was receiving treatment at Paoli Memorial Hospital under the care of Marisa Weiss, MD, who recognized there was a lack of support for her patients. So Dr. Weiss organized a conference, which my Mom participated in. Their goal of the conference was to provide a safe space where women could get accurate and easy-to-understand breast cancer information from medical experts, while finding and connecting with each other. She wanted people to be able to talk about the disease, and to not feel as though it was some ugly thing that needed to be kept secret. This disease involves people’s lives — loved ones, parents, siblings, etc. And there is a ripple effect that cancer has, as all those involved with that person’s life have to process and deal with the weight of such a diagnosis.

The connections my Mom made with other cancer survivors fueled her drive to survive. She learned about new treatments, testing, and techniques for battling the disease. Mind you, this was before the Internet, when you could goggle about treatment options and medications. She had a sense of power, as she took control of her illness. She was making the decisions, not cancer.

And there was support. Support from others who knew exactly how she felt. Who knew the fear of facing the idea that cancer may end their lives. She had friends she could call — this was before cell phones — and ask about wigs and prosthetics. They would help each other delivering meals when someone was home from surgery. They made pretty head wraps so they could still feel beautiful. It became a family.

“One of the things my mom was most proud of was being part of the group that organized LBBC 25 years ago.”

One of the things my Mom was most proud of was being part of the group that organized LBBC 25 years ago. My Mom would be so proud to see how much LBBC has evolved, how it is impacting so many lives and making them better. She always spoke of maintaining quality of life. And that is something LBBC helps provide. Every time I see an update, or a new event, I know my Mom would be smiling. She would be thrilled to see how far this organization has come. This organization lives on.

And for me, her daughter, it is a way I can remember her strength, perseverance, and jacks-family-21passion for life. What a gift, as I reflect on her life during this year, the 20th since her passing. It is something that she helped laid the groundwork for that is continuing to flourish today. I remain a part of this organization because I believe in the mission. And I know all too well, that no one should ever be alone when dealing with something as immense as facing cancer.

Thank you, Living Beyond Breast Cancer!


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As this blog was being coordinated, little did we know that its scheduling would place part two smack dab on what would have been Nancy’s birthday.  It’s fitting though, and a wonderful way to honor her memory.  If you’re reading this and knew Nancy, or any of the original group of ladies who helped create what would become LBBC, Margaux would love to hear from you. Send a note to mail@lbbc.org and we’ll be happy to forward it along.

If you have a special story to share about your history with LBBC that you feel might be appropriate for our 25th Anniversary Blog Series, contact Kevin Gianotto at kevin@lbbc.org.

 

Get [empowered] with us. (Part 1)

In 1991, Living Beyond Breast Cancer was formed when Marisa C. Weiss, MD, a radiation oncologist, held a conference with the help of some of her patients. Their goal was to provide a safe space where women could gain accurate and easy-to-understand breast cancer information from medical experts, while finding and connecting with each other.

Margaux Jacks (nee Garbowski) is the daughter of one of those patients.  This is the first of her two-part story for the Living Beyond Breast Cancer 25th Anniversary Blog Series.

 

mom-dad-meIt was 1980, and I was four when my parents sat me down at our kitchen table in our ranch home in the suburbs of Philadelphia to have a talk. While I can’t recall everything that was said, one detail that would impact my life in ways I could never imagine at such a young age was when my parents brought up the “c word.” In that moment, my life changed in a profound way. Ahead of me would be a mix of highs and lows, so many sweet moments, and yet so many other terrifying ones. Whether we liked it or not, we were in for the roller coaster ride that is a cancer diagnosis.

At the age of four, I didn’t ask about my Mom, Nancy S. Garbowski, living or dying. And I was unaware that Mom could die. I knew she was going to the hospital, and hospitals made people better, right? She would be ok, the doctors would fix her, that’s what doctors do. I drew her a card to take to the hospital, on construction paper, with pretty flowers and signed it with love.

I can’t imagine what was going through my Mom’s mind. She always seemed so calm about it with me. She must have been so scared, as her Mom had died of metastatic breast cancer when she was four; her Mom was just the young age of 31. Was history going to repeat itself?

mom and meWhen she came home, I saw her scar from the amputation. In my little voice, I called it the train tracks. It was one long red line about one-half to one-inch thick in sections that went from the center of her chest all the way into her armpit. It had equally thick cross lines, same red that gave it the train track look. She smiled at my observation. I’m guessing she enjoyed my innocence.

Mom healed and life went on. She didn’t talk about cancer with me. When the next one came, I was a few years older, and understood more. When Mom was not feeling well, we would hunker down as a family — helping each other with all the routine chores of life, while making sure Mom was as comfortable as possible. While Mom, Dad and I bonded in such a profound way, there were also consequences, as it was stressful to be the main support for someone. Plus, I could not relate to how she was feeling. I could not provide any support in the huge decisions she faced with her treatment. My Dad shouldered a lot when it came to being there for my Mom.

We handled it together as a family. Her cancer allowed us an opportunity to share many intimate experiences, many girls would not share with their Mom at that age. During chemo I would help her walk outside and together we would blow clumps of her hair into the wind. As the locks of her hair would carry through the air, we would make a wish. I can recall the twinkle in her eyes. She was so proud to have given me life, even as hers was ending.

I held the family secret for years. I never told anyone, not a friend, not a neighbor. Finally, one day sitting with one of my best friends playing cards in our cabin at sleep away camp, I said it: “My Mom has cancer.” It felt so weird to utter the words — to see her reaction, her understanding of the seriousness of something like this. And that was it. I didn’t speak of it again for quite some time. It felt awkward to reveal something that was deeply private.

My Mom kept it mostly private too. I’m not sure how she processed all that she was enduring. But then she met someone who would help her in ways none of us imagined.


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Nancy didn’t know it, but she and a small group of fellow patients were about to help in the creation of something that would forever change the way women diagnosed with breast cancer could access trustable information and connect with a community they could depend on. Margaux’s story concludes with the second part of her blog which will be published later this week.

Get [talking] with us. (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part blog written by Living Beyond Breast Cancer supporter, Mark Plamondon. Mark’s story is one of many LBBC will be sharing with you in 2016 as we recognize 25 years of service to those impacted by breast cancer. Mark told the first part of his story earlier this week.

Lee’s breast cancer was back. It had metastasized to her bones, liver and brain. We were faced with both the knowledge of how she would in all probability die and the statistics to determine how long we had left together.  The luxury we had when first married and starting our family of measuring time in months and years had been replaced by increments of weeks and days. No matter how hard I tried, it was impossible to stop the voice in my head that kept asking “when.” Treatments began and ended.  We had good days.  We had bad days. We laughed and we cried. We felt connected.  We sometimes felt alone.

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Remember, this was during the mid-90s. People whose lives were being changed by life-threatening illnesses didn’t have access to the many resources we have today. People had to create them or as in our case, find them through circumstance and luck.  We learned about Living Beyond Breast Cancer from Lee’s radiation oncologist, Marisa Weiss. Marisa had started LBBC just a few years before for women to connect with each other to find information and to get support.

“It’s strange.  So much of that time is committed to memory for me, as clear as snapshots in an album. Yet, I can’t recall any one particular moment or conversation Lee and I had that cemented our commitment to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.”

It’s strange.  So much of that time is committed to memory for me, as clear as snapshots in an album. Yet, I can’t recall any one particular moment or conversation Lee and I had that cemented our commitment to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  If I had to guess, I’d say it just happened over a period of time. We came to depend on LBBC, for the support we received and equally important for the support we were able to give. As I mentioned earlier, Lee was a great communicator. There are lots of good communicators out there, people who make answers to questions about complex issues and concepts easier to understand. But there are far fewer who actually take the time to listen to the question first. That was Lee. So it’s easy to understand why she found herself drawn to an LBBC resource that continues to this day.

In 1997 the Survivors’ Helpline launched nationally, but back then it was a local phone line. It was staffed, a few hours a week, by volunteer women diagnosed with breast cancer for women diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a place where callers could find someone else similar in age or stage of diagnosis.  It gave women the chance to learn they weren’t alone and that what they were feeling was valid and real and important.  That it was OK to talk about it.  To communicate.  As a volunteer, Lee found a purpose in helping others. It gave her the chance to use cancer instead of it using her.  It helped her assign meaning to it. I supported her and the passion she had for the service because it was contagious. She advocated for it, pushed it, helped grow it. She remained passionately committed to it until the day she passed away.

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Less than a year after she was gone, I got a call from LBBC’s executive director Jean Sachs.  A young man, who’d just lost his own wife to breast cancer, had called the Survivors’ Helpline.  He was distraught, mourning a loss he was unable to accept or understand. I was asked to call him.  I agreed.

When I did, we began our conversation learning more about each other. He was younger than me.  Not a huge difference but enough that we were at different places in our lives. He was without children and I had two young boys. Grief was an emotion we both were dealing with, but in very different ways. Yet we immediately felt a camaraderie. Regardless of our differences, we were connected by something that was both horrible and profound and it made me appreciate even more Lee’s passion to communicate with someone who shared an experience that had changed their lives in an unimaginable way. I’d been asked to make a call to help a stranger in need.  But somehow, it was helping me.  It felt RIGHT.

My relationship with LBBC has only grown stronger since then. I served on the Board for 10 years.  I’ve worked on numerous projects where my marketing experience was put to use, including expanding the Survivors’ Helpline and establishing it as a core LBBC program. It’s been amazing watching LBBC grow from a local organization helping those in the greater Philadelphia metro to a major player in the nonprofit arena, that helped over 500,000 people in need last year alone.  The Survivors’ Helpline is now called the Breast Cancer Helpline. This toll-free service receives thousands of calls every year from people across the country and even offers the option to chat online if it’s preferred.  People attend LBBC conferences from every state and even other countries.  Yet the more things change, the more they remain the same.  LBBC constantly exceeds expectations.  Each and every member of the staff is an embodiment of the LBBC mission and their desire to connect those in need to trusted information and a community of support is a passion that spills over into everything they do. They are committed, they want to help and they are great at it.

Before I sign off, I’d like to leave you with this.  What I’ve shared with you just happens to be the way Lee and I attempted to cope with the hand we were dealt. It’s just one story, one to include with millions and millions of others. But it was our story and now it’s my story and for that reason I hold it close.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is tough. Caring for someone with breast cancer is tough. There isn’t a right way to deal with it or a wrong way.  How a person copes can differ in ways really big and really small. It’s important that I recognize that you must find a way through it that works best for you and you do the same for me. I would never suggest there’s one way that’s better than another.

But, I will say this. Talking about what’s happening in your life with someone is better than not talking. The Breast Cancer Helpline is staffed by people who can provide advice, and insight and hope. Callers aren’t only women with breast cancer. Diagnosed men have used the service, too.  So have caregivers, friends, lovers and spouses.  People just like you, who given the chance can share whatever is on their mind with someone who completely gets it.

You don’t have to go through this alone. There are people who can help if you take the first step.  Call the Breast Cancer Helpline.  They helped Lee.  They helped me.  I’m confident they can help you, too.  They may even be able to make things a little more RIGHT in your life.

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The Breast Cancer Helpline is a service provided by LBBC. Helpline calls are answered live Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. At all other times, just leave a message; calls are returned within 24 hours and often much sooner. Online chat is also available. Both are free and confidential.

If you have an LBBC story you would like to share as part of our 25th Anniversary Blog Series, contact Kevin Gianotto by emailing kevin@lbbc.org.

Thoughts on Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Natalie Gamble

We’re launching a three-part Q&A series beginning today, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, featuring blog contributor Natalie Gamble. Learn more about TNBC during our live Web stream, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 360: Waiting for the Future, taking place today, March 3 at 6 p.m. ET.

 

20160303 Natalie GambleLiving with triple-negative breast cancer sometimes feels like you’re walking on a tight rope. That’s at least how Natalie Gamble, 44, of Denver, Colorado describes her initial feelings after she finished chemotherapy.

Unlike estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer and HER2-positive disease, no targeted therapies exist for TNBC. Although chemotherapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment, people like Natalie sometimes feel overwhelmed dealing with the uncertainty and the lack of access to a targeted therapy.

“Once I finished chemotherapy, I felt like I was left to deal with these feelings by myself,” Natalie says. “Feelings you don’t necessarily have unless you have triple-negative breast cancer.”

In this Q&A with Digital Media Specialist Josh Fernandez, Natalie discusses fear of recurrence, support for TNBC and more.

Josh: Fear of recurrence is a significant concern for people with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer. How do you manage these fears in your day-to-day life?
Natalie:  Writing has been a big help. I write a lot – poetry, blog posts, short stories – to try to get my mind off this diagnosis. Meditation has also been a huge help. It keeps me calm and in a positive frame of mind.

I’m about to participate in a study through the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers called “Valued Living for Survivors”. It’s a study where, with a group, you learn how to manage your feelings after completing treatment. I heard about it and thought dealing with this stress in a group forum would help.

Josh: Could you share with our readers some tips on how they can get support for TNBC?
Natalie: Different approaches work for different people. The Internet was really helpful to me, but you have to be careful – not all information is created equally. The information and stories I found on social media and the Web were sometimes very disheartening and scary.

When I was doing research and Googling, websites like LBBC.ORG and MyBCTeam were so helpful. MyBCTeam, which is like a breast cancer social media, let’s you tell your story to others affected by breast cancer. When I’m having a really bad day, I hop on and ask question, look for input from my peers or just vent about my day in an update.

Another activity that’s been helpful for me is therapeutic gardening with a bonsai tree. Denver Botanic Gardens and Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers offer a program for people with cancer, where you use sheers and gardening techniques to care for the tree and almost illustrate your cancer journey as you trim and shape the tree. At the end of the program, you get to take your tree home. And you’re with others who’ve experienced cancer, so you’re not alone.

Josh: On TNBC Awareness Day what are one or two important takeaways for readers to know about triple-negative breast cancer?
Natalie:
It’s not a death sentence. Someone living with this diagnosis is always going to have in the back of her mind that the cancer might come back one day. I have that thought from time-to-time.

If you’ve just finished treatment or are years beyond, try to reflect on how far you’ve come.  Hold on to good memories, anything that can help you believe you can overcome the fear. It’s not over just because there’s no targeted therapy. You can get through treatment, get through the fear. You can do it.

 

Watch Triple-Negative Breast Cancer 360: Waiting for the Future live at 6 p.m. ET


 

Natalie L. Gamble is a happily married mother of four and grandmother of one from Denver, Colorado. Diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in May 2014, she spends most of her time writing short stories and poetry, or enjoying her role as a stay-at-home mother and grandmother.