Canadian Cancer Society

Fearless, The Personal Side of Cancer

Cancer is a big bully, and our job is to summon the strength to fight back.

That's the message of every campaign trying to convince us that we can run, climb and fundraise cancer out of existence. It's a hopeful stance, but an aggressive one. It can even be counterproductive, making patients feel ashamed if they're overwhelmed by their experience. We tried to step into the shoes of these weary, courageous people to help the Canadian Cancer Society begin to build a living online resource for cancer patients, their caregivers and the organization itself. "Our role through the entire process was to be the advocate for the user," says Sonia. "To make sure the experience was authentic and resonated on a different level"

CCS was a victim of its own success. Its name and daffodil logo are instantly recognizable, but not very many people truly realize the breadth of essential services it provides. This important, crucial organization needed a way to communicate its strengths, but wanted an approach that was different than the no-holds-barred style of other campaigns. Inspired by the campaign's slogan—"When no Canadian lives in fear of cancer, we will change cancer forever"— the first step in helping people feel better about the illness was simply to allow them to articulate the many fears that cancer evokes.

As dedicated but thoughtful devotees of digital's emotive capabilities, we worked with CCS to reach beyond a static website. The Fearless Project is a dynamic activation site that delivers a deep source of useful help. It's a living account of fear and change—the finite name "project" indicates that a visit to the site is one step on a long journey. Over 16,000 people have expressed what they fear most about their cancer experience. The site's custom algorithm then categorizes their fear, directing them to services they can actually use, immediately. At the same time, the algorithm collects essential data about what people genuinely need, giving CCS an invaluable tool for designing future services.

The Fearless Project is still active and evolving, with new users adding to the database of fears and finding useful resources, while also allowing the Canadian Cancer Society to deepen its knowledge base. It's a stepping-stone to meaningful action and a living online community that provides people with the help they truly need.