‘Ask for Her’ to Fight Breast Cancer, Southwoods Says

BOARDMAN, Ohio – There are tens of thousands of women in the Mahoning Valley, but what really got the ball rolling on Southwoods Health’s new Ask for Her campaign were the hundreds that it employs.

“Only 30% of our eligible staff went out and got their mammograms. They’re people who live in health care and are certainly aware because they’re RNs and LPNs and physicians,” says Steve Davenport, chief operating officer at Southwoods Health. “Seventy percent didn’t get a preventive screening, a free preventive screening.”

One of the biggest reasons patients, whether they’re Southwoods staff or not, is fear, says Daryle Moore. And it’s not just of getting a mammogram done, says Southwoods’ women’s health coordinator and nurse navigator. They’re afraid of getting learning they have breast cancer and all that diagnosis entails.

“We see women come in – 40, 50, 60 – who say they’ve never had their mammogram,” she says. “They say they check themselves or they’ve never had any problems. It can be those things, but it can also be fear of ‘what if?’ ”

With the Ask for Her campaign, Southwoods Health is encouraging everyone – from patients to those who see billboard advertisements, buttons worn by Southwoods staff, social media posts or coffee cup sleeves – to ask their loved ones if she’s had a mammogram. All facets of the campaign direct people to AskForHer.com, which includes information and resources related to breast cancer.

Soon, Ask for Her will include videos of local women sharing their stories about what pushed them to get a mammogram and how diagnosis impacted their lives. The five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer is 90%, according to the National Institutes of Health, which also note that better detection methods and catching the cancer earlier has led to improved success in fighting the disease.

“This campaign isn’t to put money in our pockets. It’s to have people help themselves or another person to stay healthy,” Davenport says. “Whether it’s with us at Southwoods or with someone else, wherever it is, please go get this test.”

Rather than simply telling women to get mammograms, he and Moore say, Ask for Her was designed to be inquisitive. Its name alone doesn’t say specifically what it’s all about, though the pink ribbon in the logo hints to it. That was done to facilitate conversations, to get people asking, “What am I asking about for her?” Moore says.

“It opens the door for you to give an explanation and tell them, ‘You need to ask loved ones if they’ve had a mammogram,’ ” she says. “It’s not just telling people what to do. It creates curiosity.”

Taking place during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it can be hard for such causes to stand out. Between national and local programs, it’s easy for breast cancer awareness efforts to blend together.

So, Southwoods is moving beyond its traditional methods of advertising and engaging in a full social media effort throughout the month. The videos of survivors will be shared through social media, while six billboards will carry “AskForHer.com” emblazoned over the pink background with the Southwoods logo. The same ad will featured in digital banners as well.

“The value of traditional media in our marketplace is still powerful because of how mature we are and the behaviors all ages have established. But we can’t ignore the changes and influences of mobile media,” says Jeff Ryznar, president of 898 Marketing, which helped Southwoods develop Ask for Her. 

He notes that 80% of Southwoods’ website traffic is through mobile devices. That number was an immediate signal that the campaign needed a heavy digital component.

“The patients they see and the loved ones they have are checking in on their mobile devices,” he says. “That means we have to be there to speak to them on the same devices they use to learn about Southwoods.”

In the creation of Ask for Her, Ryznar says his firm was asked to find something that could reach a different resolution than national efforts.

“Everybody raises money, everybody does donations. Those are vital assets to fighting this disease,” he says. “But one of the biggest barriers that exists is individuals getting proper screenings. People are afraid to find out what the answers might be and to go through that journey.”

Part of the push to include alternative methods of advertising is StoneFruit Coffee Co.’s involvement. Through the month, the cafe will serve to-go cups of coffee with pink sleeves and the campaign’s URL. 

StoneFruit Coffee Co. will serve coffee with a pink sleeve carrying the Ask for Her name throughout October, say operations director Hunter Dorman and owner Josh Langenheim.

“We have a social media reach and a presence in the Valley. But my main commodity is coffee. The thing that leaves the most is the coffee cup,” says Josh Langenheim, owner of StoneFruit. “I know if I want to make the biggest impression, I’d put it on that cup. If you want to raise as much awareness as you possibly can, this is the way to do it.”

Getting involved in such a campaign, especially one through a local organization, was a no-brainer, he says.

“I try to do as much local as I possibly can, and when you’re talking local with a positive spin like this, it doesn’t get any better than raising awareness of breast cancer,” he says. “Just think of how many families in the Valley it’s touched. If we could A) raise awareness and B) help a local initiative, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Having other organizations involved in Ask for Her, Davenport says, is a key factor in whether or not the campaign will be successful in convincing Valley residents to ask their loved ones if they’ve had a mammogram.

“Some people might see a pin. Some might see a billboard. Some might see a coffee sleeve,” he says. “If you can find that message in places that aren’t health-care related, it’s another way to encourage people to take action. If you get people locally join something, it’s great.”

While the campaign is designed to encourage women to get mammograms wherever they want to get one, Davenport and Moore do make note of what Southwoods offers. The continuum of care at the health-care organization spans from the initial tests to plastic surgery after mastectomies.

“It starts with noninvasive testing, non-needle biopsies and 3D mammograms done the same day that can pinpoint smaller and smaller lesions,” Davenport says. “There’s also the broader Southwoods network if it does require intervention, including a team of general surgeons.”

Throughout the process, nurse navigators like Moore help patients through the process and coordinate their care across offices. Breast cancer treatment is a stressful process and anything that can be done to alleviate the pressure on patients is helpful, she says.

“Based on the feedback we get from women – and sometimes men – It’s a lifeline. They feel it’s a mammoth thing. We’re their connection,” she says. “You can get lost in the shuffle, but we help them get that report and move onto the next step. We talk to them and let them know that we have their back.”

Depending on its success, the effort could be expanded into other forms of preventative care, Davenport says.

“We encourage people at the gym, when we’re working on a project. How much different is it when you have that help?” he says. “We could be talking about breast cancer, prostate screenings, physicals, colonoscopies; all those things people don’t want to think about. But when you see what it means for early detection and survivability, there’s a huge relationship there.”

Pictured: Southwoods Health chief operating officer Steve Davenport and nurse navigator Daryle Moore are joining their coworkers in wearing buttons as part of the Ask for Her campaign.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.