A dramatic new ad set to raise the bar on breast cancer awareness ran this past Sunday on Fox, ahead of the NFL’s evening matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.
“I know. You want to win this one,” a woman says as she stands in what appears to be an NFL locker room ahead of the big game.
“We all do,” says a second woman.
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“But this battle — it will try to take you down,” says the first woman.
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And then, as they move out onto a football field, several women speak one after the other, each voice merging into one narrative: “That’s not who you are. You don’t give up. You keep moving forward with strength. Determination. Courage. When you’re knocked down, you get up. Then you smile for your team. Because that’s who you are. That’s what it means to be tough. Now — go show ’em how it’s done.”
While it might seem the women are there to support their favorite NFL team — viewers very quickly understand that the compelling ad, sponsored by The Ford Motor Company, isn’t about football at all.
For 22 years, Ford has been a dedicated partner in the fight against breast cancer. From raising funds through its Warriors in Pink apparel, to giving breast cancer patients and survivors “More Good Days” — a program that empowers patients, survivors, co-survivors, and caregivers with tips, tools, and resources — the automaker has found ways to help.
The company has dedicated more than $130 million to programs and initiatives in the fight against breast cancer.
But this latest initiative, “The Meaning of Tough,” is perhaps its most powerful awareness campaign yet.
“It’s important to us because Ford is a family-based company — we still have Ford family members who work here,” Tracy Magee, Ford Warriors in Pink brand manager, told LifeZette.
“And we know within our corporate family, within our own families, so many people are touched by this disease. We have this long-standing commitment and we recognize the strength and courage that it takes to deal with the everyday challenges of fighting breast cancer,” she said. “I think the dialogue in this spot is about just that — strength and courage. And our program does focus on everyday challenges and trying to find ways to help.”
The incredible women who are partnering with the company in their efforts are proud to share their stories — in the hope that this does and will make a difference.
“Growing up, people didn’t really talk about cancer,” said Cheryl Perkins, a 12-year survivor from Detroit, Michigan. Diagnosed at 35 with a very aggressive form of breast cancer, Perkins was told her chances of survival were slim.
“It was really hushed. People didn’t know why Aunt Sally died. They just knew ‘something happened to her.’ For me, it’s really important that I share my story with others, and that they in turn also share their story with others,” she told LifeZette.
A labor and delivery nurse who often sees women faced with incredibly difficult decisions after a breast cancer diagnosis while pregnant, Perkins said she feels honored to be part of what Ford is doing.
“Being chosen to be one of the ‘models of courage’ back in 2012 has been such a joy to me. I’m sharing my story and helping to advocate for women — and just showing them that I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and I’m here, and you, too, can fight this disease and also be here for your family,” said Perkins.
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She and Cati Stone, another woman in the new ad, want to remind women and their families that everyone is in the fight together, including them — this is their overwhelming message.
Just 35 years old when diagnosed, Stone, a lawyer at the time, now works for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She’s based in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I was treated with a drug that made my survival possible. It was funded by Susan G. Komen, so I now work for Komen and I am proud to be a part of the Ford family, too. So many companies have a pink product in order to boost their own brand, [but] Ford really wants to make a difference, and the Warriors in Pink program is doing that,” Stone said.
She added, “This is not a competition. We are all in the fight together. We want to make sure we are moving forward in the best possible way. Working with Komen and Ford is complementary in that we are looking to make a difference.”
The Komen Foundation is Ford’s longest-standing partner in the Warriors in Pink program. Ford representatives say it’s these cancer survivors — those willing to get to the heart of the mission and spread the message — that they’re proud to feature in the new ad campaign.
“I’ve been able to share my story to show others that there is life after breast cancer,” Stone said. “I’ve also been able to work with Ford, which talks with survivors one-on-one to really understand what the experience is like, in order to create programs that drive change. For example, when Ford’s ‘More Good Days’ program was launched, we worked with them on what would have given us a good day in treatment, what would help others to have a good day during treatment. They are very thoughtful about that.”
She added, “It has been nice to lend my voice to their programming and then see all of the major heights they are reaching in using the information real survivors are providing to them.”
This article has been updated.