This was supposed to be a blog about another topic entirely. Yet the news we received late last night prompted a different blog.
To set the scene: Your blogger had just returned from visiting a friend, hospitalized early Monday with an asthma attack that turned out to be heart trouble, which resulted in a triple bypass. Then, as your blogger sat down to finish writing the blog that should have been here, word came from a PR friend that Anne Glauber, subject of a blog posted on this site months ago, had passed, aged 60, after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Yes, you read that sentence correctly, “after a 3-year battle with pancreatic cancer.”
Normally a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is tantamount to an unfairly short death sentence, a few weeks or months is about it. The disease hides and so often is discovered very late in the game, when medical science can offer little hope.
Yet Anne lived. In fact, when we spoke to her just a few months ago, she told us, “I’m going strong.” Indeed, she sounded great, filled with energy and ambition for her baby, a pancreatic cancer initiative called Let’s Win. Anne was using her skills as a veteran communicator to publicize the effort.
Honestly, when the pitch about Let’s Win arrived it was one of many corporate social responsibility (CSR) story requests that crowded our inbox as the year drew to a close. Why choose this one? It was the chance to interview Anne, a managing partner and founder, CSR and social impact practice, Finn Partners, that clinched it. While the novelty of speaking with someone, anyone, who had survived pancreatic cancer for more than a few months was very intriguing, we had a hunch a person who could survive pancreatic cancer for that long had a story that would be interesting for our readers. To be sure, there was some skepticism on our part. We insisted Anne provide us with PR lessons as part of the blog.
Once we spoke with Anne we quickly realized we needn't have been concerned. She didn’t want to be the focus of the blog. Anne, the thoroughly professional PR pro, was doing her job, applying rule number 1: the communicator stays out of the limelight. The story for the blog that day was about Let’s Win and how we could let PR News readers know of its mission.
So there we were on the phone with Anne and her wonderful, articulate doctor, Allyson Ocean, talking about the story behind Let’s Win, the effort Anne created to help pancreatic cancer patients, their families, their doctors and researchers connect so they could share news of and practical experience with unconventional treatments for the deadly disease.
Allyson loved the idea of Let’s Win so much that she helped fund it and was its medical adviser.
We had to ask Allyson, though, how, as a doctor, she could support a website where patients were encouraged to obtain treatment information and present it to their doctors. Many doctors groan (perhaps rightly, sometimes imperceptibly) when patients arrive with the latest treatments and regimes from “Dr. Internet.” Ocean’s response was instructive: After telling us she wasn’t one of those groaning doctors, she said many physicians, particularly those practicing in small towns and cities and who aren’t working on pancreatic cancer daily, lack access to the latest experimental treatments. For them, the information on Let’s Win, which was vetted, could be vital to patient care.
In addition, the site gave researchers who hadn’t yet published their findings, a place to share information with other professionals. On top of that, the site was also, like Anne, a cheerleader for patients, families, caregivers and medical professionals.
Anne clearly had done her homework before moving ahead with Let’s Win (a PR lesson, of course). After doing a lot of research, she had identified an unmet need. And then she thoroughly digitized and socialized Let’s Win, finding top-notch editors and freelancers to provide great content on Let’s Win’s site. Another PR pro move: Anne knew she wasn't first to the cause, and found partners for Let’s Win, including arguably the leading pancreatic cancer organization, the Lustgarten Foundation, an effort a Cablevision executive helped found. The executive, Marc Lustgarten, succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1999, at 52.
In addition, Anne insisted any content on the site be in garden-variety prose: no medical jargon allowed, all medical and science terms explained (yes, another fine PR lesson).
And now, just like that, Anne Glauber is gone.
Knowing her as a PR pro's PR pro, we're sure she’d want this blog to emphasize Let’s Win, not her story. Still the two were so tightly connected. As you’ll note in the blog we posted about her in December 2016, we couldn’t not ask about her personal story. So we began that blog wondering how someone who’d survived a deadly disease would spend the rest of her life, never knowing how much time was left: traveling, hanging with friends and family, eating great meals, drinking fine wine, thrill seeking?
Anne Glauber’s choice was to live her last years applying PR lessons as she touted the good work Let's Win was doing. It was a winning choice.
Follow Seth Arenstein: @skarenstein