The Voice of Canadians With Breast Cancer

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CBCN's Digital Storytelling and Advocacy Toolkit: Using Personal Storytelling for Advocacy

While there have been many advances made in the diagnosing, treatment and management of breast cancer, individuals diagnosed with or living with breast cancer still face issues that are not yet being addressed by the organizations and government bodies that serve them. In addition to this, the public is generally not aware of the day-to-day impacts of a breast cancer diagnosis on individuals and their families.

As an individual diagnosed with breast cancer, you may advocate for your own cause or a collective cause that many breast cancer patients face. One way to advocate for an issue is to share how it personally affects you, in other words, by sharing your story. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network has created a Digital Advocacy and Storytelling Toolkit that will help you identify a breast cancer issue to advocate for, help you craft how to advocate for this issue by sharing your personal experience, assist you in determining the appropriate avenue(s) to tell your story, and provides the actions to take as the next steps in getting your voice heard.

Here are just some of the many topics that you will find in CBCN’s Digital Storytelling and Advocacy Toolkit:

Breast Cancer Issues to Advocate For

There are various issues that breast cancer patients face. The best issues to advocate for have specific, concrete, and measurable solutions and are issues that are shared with other breast cancer patients, including, but not limited to

  • The lack of awareness, understanding, resources, and support surrounding metastatic breast cancer.
  • The financial burdens of a breast cancer diagnosis that many people are largely unaware of.
  • The inequality and inequity that breast cancer patients across Canada face when trying to access breast cancer drugs.

Digital Storytelling as a Means to Advocacy

Our toolkit includes a worksheet that helps you frame and communicate your story and experience as a breast cancer patient in a way that advocates for change, awareness and support. Using this worksheet will help you

  • Identify a specific breast cancer issue and its potential solution(s).
  • Determine what you would like people hearing your story and issue to do about it.
  • Outline the impact your specific breast cancer issue has had on you and your loved ones, as well as how it affects other breast cancer patients.

Advocacy and Storytelling Strategies

When you choose to share your story as a form of advocacy, it is important to strategize and select the most appropriate method or avenue(s) to share your story through. Common avenues to share your story through, in order to advocate for an issue include:

  • Starting a blog dedicated to your experiences as a breast cancer patient or writing a blogpost on a specific breast cancer issue.
  • Using social media or contacting media relations to raise awareness and gather support.
  • Contacting government relations to bring about policy changes.

Although there are many organizations that exist to address the many issues that breast cancer patients face, sometimes this is not enough. These organizations may be dedicated to causes and issues other than the ones you are facing, or they may not be aware of the unique ways a specific issue is affecting you and other breast cancer patients. Self-advocacy helps to address these gaps that unfortunately exist and brings light to what you are facing. Our hope with this Digital Advocacy and Storytelling Toolkit is that breast cancer patients and their loved ones will use it to voice what having and living with a breast cancer diagnosis is like.

Please note that this toolkit should serve as a guideline on how to get started, what the final product will look like will be different for each person and issue.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash