Telling the American Cancer Society Story
The American Cancer Society
As an American Cancer Society volunteer, you have a story – a reason that
you are involved in this fight. When you close your eyes and think of that
reason, who do you see? Is it your mother or father, a friend, a neighbor, a
child… Even if you are one of those very rare people who have not been
touched by cancer in some personal way, you have a story to tell, too.
And as American Cancer Society volunteers, we need to be able to tell our
stories – to harness that passion and funnel that power into words that will
influence others to take up the fight along side us until we find the cure.
Perhaps you are like many of us whose weekend wardrobe seems to be made
up of only Relay For Life t-shirts. When you are out and someone asks you
about the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life, how do you
respond? Do you immediately begin with terms like “fundraiser” “camping
out” and “luminaria” or do you draw them in with your story and how the
American Cancer Society is saving lives in your community?
The American Cancer Society has a mission – you know, because you are a
part of what we do:
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based
voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer,
saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through
research, education, advocacy and service.
Put simply, the American Cancer Society is working to eliminate cancer.
And we are doing this in four ways: through research, education, advocacy
and patient services programs.
The goal of eliminating cancer is huge – too huge to embrace without
breaking it down into smaller pieces. That’s where the American Cancer
Society’s 2015 goals come in. You’ve probably heard that we are working
Double the number of lives saved from cancer
Reduce by a quarter the number of people who will have to hear
the words “you have cancer”
Empower people to make informed decisions while advocating for
the highest quality of life for cancer patients and their families
As the largest non-profit fundraiser in the world, Relay For Life is one of the
strategies that is proving effective in moving us toward these goals because
Relay does much more than raise money – it raises awareness. Mission
Integration through Relay For Life enables the American Cancer Society to
Help people with cancer
Empower people to fight back against cancer.
Each of the volunteers, team captains, team members, survivors and
caregivers involved in Relay are really American Cancer Society
ambassadors. It is up to each of us to share the lifesaving messages of the
ACS with those we care about and those we meet. By doing so, each of us
has the potential to save lives. Now, that’s powerful.
For almost 100 years, the American Cancer Society has had the same
mission – to save lives. Over the years our priorities have changed as we’ve
learned more about the disease through our research program which was
founded in 1946. In fact, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the
American Cancer Society’s research program, we also celebrate that the
American Cancer Society has led the way in making real progress against
cancer with the help of the 3 S’s – Supporters, Scientists and Survivors –
who make this a personal fight.
But, while there have been many successes, there’s still work to be done.
Until we can proclaim that there are no more deaths due to cancer, we will
continue this fight – and win – one victory at a time.
Through in roads in the areas of research we have learned that many cancers
can be detected early and cured – or can be prevented all together. In this
way, the American Cancer Society is responsible for saving more lives each
and every year, and that means that there are more and more people every
day who are surviving cancer. The American Cancer Society is there to help
with our myriad of free patient service and quality of life programs.
You know someone who has received transportation to and from their life
saving cancer treatment through the Road to Recovery Program; or perhaps
a woman undergoing breast cancer treatment who received information and
gift items -- as well as hope -- from a Reach to Recovery volunteer.
Of course, information delivery is one of the most important services we
offer. By calling the National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-ACS-
2345 or logging on to www.cancer.org, one can receive the most up to date
and accurate cancer information available. Whether searching for treatment
options and survival rates or finding the nearest Relay For Life event, we
can help 24 hours a day, 365 days every year.
Being told about the American Cancer Society is one thing, but telling others
is quite different. It’s important for you to know that you and others like you
have blazed the trail to success. Here are a few examples of advances that
have been made:
Advances in prevention, early detection, and treatment are saving lives
Death rates, the best indicator of progress against cancer, have decreased
for 12 of the top 15 cancers in men and nine of the top 15 cancers in
Cancer death rates for all racial and ethnic populations combined
decreased by 1.1 percent/year from 1993 to 2002 (that translates into
thousands of more lives being saved!)
From 1998-2001, lung cancer incidence rates in women were stable after
increasing for several decades
o The Society confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer
with major study in 1954, then helped lower smoking rates by
promoting anti-tobacco policies and educating the public
Cervical cancer cases and deaths have dropped 70% in the last several
o The Society played a critical role in putting the Pap test into
Breast cancer death rates decreased in most segments of the population
during the 1990s, due largely to greater use of mammography and
o The Society funded research that found mammography saves lives,
worked to raise women’s awareness of mammography in the
1970s, and issued the first breast cancer early detection guidelines
in the 1980s
Many of these advances were discovered, achieved, or made available to the
cancer community as a result of advocacy activities. Relay For Life presents
an unparalleled opportunity for the Society to get others in the community to
get involved in the fight against cancer as through advocacy efforts.
Features and Benefits
Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times was quoted as
saying, “Connect with people’s gut concerns and they’ll go anywhere with
you, without asking for details. Don’t connect, and you’ll never be able to
show them enough details to get them to follow.”
As a volunteer – an ambassador – for the American Cancer Society, it is
important that you have the confidence to share your story – to connect with
others in your community and promote the American Cancer Society’s
In telling the American Cancer Society’s story, remember to share the
benefits of our work rather than just the features.
Let me illustrate what I mean:
Have you ever bought a new car? The features are definitely important – the
cd player, cruise control, cup holders, adjustable seats – but, it’s because of
how the features BENEFIT you, the driver. Because of these features, you
will be able to listen to your favorite driving music or books by your favorite
author, maintain a constant, safe speed, have an ice cold soft drink nearby,
and be able to adjust the seat for a custom fit.
The American Cancer Society is the same way. It’s easy to talk about the
features, but the features alone don’t mean much until they are personalized.
Click here for of the features and benefits of the American Cancer Society.
(link to Features and Benefits ppt doc)
Telling the Story
Close your eyes and think again about why you Relay. Now, pretend that
you have two minutes to tell someone about the American Cancer Society.
You can spend your time talking about the features and try to remember
facts, or you can speak from the heart and let the benefits speak for
For instance, your story may sound something like this:
The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives and Relay For Life is
one of the ways we are doing that.
In fact, funds raised through Relay support research and information
delivery programs that help people right here in our community.
Do you remember my friend Celia? Well, she and I were walking at Relay
For Life a few years ago and were discussing how many of our friends had
survived breast cancer and how you just never know who will be diagnosed
Well, Celia was next. She was diagnosed with breast cancer on a Friday
afternoon. And, because of her involvement in Relay, she knew to call 1-800-
ACS-2345 and to visit cancer.org for information on her type of cancer. So,
when she went to the doctor on Monday morning, she was armed with an
arsenal of information and questions she wanted to ask about the treatment
options she had researched.
So, thanks to the American Cancer Society, her cancer was found very early
and she was able to make informed decisions regarding her best treatment
option. And, now she’s cancer free and healthy as ever!
Again, the keys to effectively telling your story are to make it personal and
tying in the benefits. If you’re not comfortable sharing your story, that’s OK.
You can still discuss benefits and bring the work of the American Cancer
Society home to the community level. It will just require a little practice.
So let’s do that… Take a few minutes to jot down your story. It’s often
easier if you break it down into three areas:
1. The personal example
2. How that example ties into an ACS program or is a specific example
of ACS research
3. How this relates to the mission of the American Cancer Society.
The story above has these same three components, but is turned upside
down. Let me show you:
1. How this relates to the mission of the American Cancer Society.
The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives and Relay
For Life is one of the ways we are doing that.
2. How that example ties into an ACS program or is an example
of ACS research
In fact, funds raised through Relay support research and
information delivery programs that help people right here in our
3. The personal example
Well, Celia was next. She was diagnosed with breast cancer on a
Friday afternoon. And, because of her involvement in Relay, she
knew to call 1-800-ACS-2345 and to visit cancer.org for
information on her type of cancer. So, when she went to the doctor
on Monday morning, she was armed with an arsenal of
information and questions she wanted to ask about the treatment
options she had researched.
There are two training modules that are offered in your division that will
help you learn more and become more comfortable in telling your story.
So Glad You Asked
Telling the American Cancer Society Story
Your staff partner can tell you more about these two programs. In the
meantime, visit the resources section of this module for materials and
information on the American Cancer Society, our mission, and our progress.
Additionally, the Mission Delivery Training Module expands upon the
importance and the “how to” of tying mission delivery into our day to day
lives as American Cancer Society volunteers.
Resources: TAS resources and materials, message wheel, etc.