It’s October. We painted a splash page on our website for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I don’t care for pink. I’m not much into causes. So, as far as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I surely don’t need it to remind me of this insidious disease anymore. Every month is Breast Cancer Awareness month in our family.
This year I view breast cancer differently. For me, it is an excursion from one reality into a new one, a test of faith and resolve, a trial of patience, an affirmation of commitment, a clash of wills to avoid the negative while focusing on the positive and, in my case, something of immense curiosity.
It’s been 20 months since my wife was diagnosed. It was Valentine’s Day 2013. It wasn’t dramatic – or didn’t seem so at the time. You have this lump, the biopsy confirmed that it’s a carcinoma, we’ll take it out, check lymph nodes, and go from there. For her, it wasn’t a mystery. After all, she is a UCLA-educated radiation therapy technologist, she treated Hollywood celebrities at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, worked as a civilian in the oncology department at Walter Reed Medical Center, worked and instructed at UNC, Chapel Hill, and helped open two cancer centers in Ohio. She knew the drill.
Where we live we are fortunate to have a first-class treatment facility at The Strecker Cancer Center, associated with The Memorial Health System. It’s just three blocks from our house; we could have walked to chemo. Imagine having one of America’s great oncologists sitting in your family room, petting the dog and drawing pictures of cell surfaces and antigens, the same girl who grew up down the street, used to babysit our kids on occasion, and went off to Ohio State and to OSU Medical School to earn her angel’s wings. We were in good hands.
My wife had surgery on St. Patrick’s Day. She started chemo on April Fool’s Day, finished radiation almost a year later. For the better part of 2013 every Monday was Groundhog Day. Chemo. Nap. Dinner. Wine. She was rarely sick.
For a guy, this business of breast cancer is a strange netherworld, somewhere between marketing happy hour at Hooter’s and an intimate understanding of how receptors agitated by HER2 gene expressions are inhibited by a monoclonal antibody produced by Genentech, a company that works closely with one of our former clients. What was abstract is now personal. What was hypothetical is now an experience others are confronting today. What was frightening and uncertain is now a haze of chemo and radiation memories, her on an IV, me on an iPad.
All of which brings me back to work. Many of our clients are engaged in medical research at the most fundamental level. The medical and drug discovery media we monitor on their behalf serve up daily progress reports, much like this one. We know that breast cancer is deceptive, elusive, potentially deadly, disruptive and, as we are learning, treatable and curable. The products and services our clients make and sell have a direct bearing on how medical researchers – molecular biologists, scientists deep into genomics and proteomics, even statisticians – select and invest in tools and technologies to improve their efficiency.
That’s why we take our work so personally. It is one attribute that differentiates OffWhite as a technology marketing company. What we do for our clients truly makes a difference to people all over the world. There is no “business as usual” in our office. There is no “wordsmithing." We get behind the technologies fighting cancer and other diseases, we understand them, isolate and identify their benefits and serve up a contextual understanding of best choices to researchers with starved budgets who must make that last contribution from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society or your local 5K fundraiser stretch as far as possible.
As we shepherd our technology clients through business marketing plans much like an October corn maze, we assure them that we won’t spend their money twice. We think our way into their markets and offer real value to their customers who, in turn, will have more money to spend on research.
At OffWhite, we didn’t need my experience to validate what we’ve always done for our clients. But we did use it to give ourselves an extra measure of empathy. Now that we have it, we rededicate our firm – our skills and talents – to seeking out the best client companies we can find, and working hand-in-hand with them, we will bring the benefits of their products and services to a market in search of a cure for cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and many others..
What we do at OffWhite matters where it counts. At home.