"Together Against Cancer" initiative. Copyright: © Bristol Myers Squibb

Together against cancer

“The tumor is mali­gnant, you have can­cer.” A sen­tence that chan­ges life. Almost every minu­te for a per­son in Ger­ma­ny, annu­al­ly for around half a mil­li­on (1). Even though medi­cal advan­ces have been gre­at in recent years and a long and good life is incre­a­singly beco­m­ing a rea­li­ty in the case of many tumor dise­a­ses, the dia­gno­sis of can­cer is still fear­ful and threa­tening. And that often lea­ves many of tho­se affec­ted, but also their per­so­nal envi­ron­ment speech­less. Experts agree that in life cri­ses such as can­cer, open com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on can be very important, hel­pful and relieving.

“Respect and authen­ti­ci­ty are the key to suc­cess­ful communication”

Yet, we often find it dif­fi­cult to talk about can­cer, and the­re are taboos and uncer­tain­ties about how to con­duct the con­ver­sa­ti­on. Why is that? What pre­vents us from spea­king open­ly about our fee­lings and fears? The ans­wer is given by Dr. medi­cal Adak Pirm­ora­dy Sehouli, spe­cia­list in psy­cho­so­ma­tic medi­ci­ne and psy­cho­the­ra­py and head of the psy­cho­so­ma­tic out­pa­ti­ent cli­nic on the Ben­ja­min Fran­k­lin cam­pus of the Cha­ri­té in Ber­lin, in a video inter­view: “The dise­a­se con­fronts us with the most ele­men­ta­ry issu­es in life, which we can other­wi­se rela­tively well omit in ever­y­day life ; this is com­ple­te­ly nor­mal and part of the human defen­se sys­tem. With the dia­gno­sis of can­cer, we have to face the­se issu­es, which is dif­fi­cult; That’s why com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on with can­cer is so dif­fi­cult for us.”

And once you’­ve mana­ged to speak: How much open­ness is “right” without hur­ting the other per­son? Accord­ing to Pirm­ora­dy Sehouli, this fear is unfoun­ded: “If I talk open­ly, respect­ful­ly and honest­ly about my fee­lings, then usual­ly nobo­dy is angry with me, and my con­ver­sa­ti­on part­ner under­stands what I feel and want to express.”

Accord­ing to the expert, it is also important that the­re is no one right way to talk about can­cer. This can hap­pen in as many dif­fe­rent ways as tho­se affec­ted them­sel­ves are dif­fe­rent. “From abso­lu­te and las­ting open­ness to a one-time con­ver­sa­ti­on to not giving the ill­ness any space at all: ever­ything is pos­si­ble, and ever­ything is allo­wed, even ’not wan­ting to talk about it’,” says Pirm­ora­dy Sehouli.

Initia­ti­ve shows ways out of speechlessness

The inter­view is part of the “#tog­e­theragain­st­can­cer: Let’s speak open­ly and break the silence” initia­ti­ve laun­ched by Bris­tol Myers Squibb Ger­ma­ny. With a wide ran­ge of offers, inclu­ding com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on work­shops for can­cer pati­ents with Pirm­ora­dy Sehouli at this year’s YES!CON, Germany’s lar­gest can­cer con­ven­ti­on for tho­se affec­ted, experts and influ­en­cers on Octo­ber 15th and 16th, 2022 in Munich, the com­pa­ny, which is one of the pioneers in can­cer rese­arch, would like to show ways out of the pos­si­ble uncer­tain­ty and speech­less­ness when dealing with the dia­gno­sis of can­cer. Esz­ter Viragh, Head of Cor­po­ra­te Affairs at Bris­tol Myers Squibb Ger­ma­ny: “The aim of our initia­ti­ve is to con­tri­bu­te to brea­king the taboo on the topic of can­cer and to pro­mo­ting a trus­ting exchan­ge. So that com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on bet­ween all tho­se invol­ved is (again) possible.”

Tho­se affec­ted deci­de for them­sel­ves whe­ther, how and what they want to talk about

The heart of the initia­ti­ve is the web­site gegen-krebs.de. Tho­se affec­ted will find sug­ges­ti­ons here on how to find the right words when tal­king about the ill­ness or how they can pre­pa­re well for dis­cus­sions with their doc­tor. Ano­t­her chap­ter deals with sci­en­ti­fic fin­dings on the impor­t­ance of a good doc­tor-pati­ent rela­ti­ons­hip in the sen­se of the “shared decisi­on making” favo­r­ed today. The offer of the initia­ti­ve is roun­ded off by ques­ti­ons from dif­fe­rent are­as of life, which sti­mu­la­te thought and want to give impul­ses for com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on with rela­ti­ves, friends and also the doc­tor. All of this fol­lows the clear cre­do: Pati­ents deci­de for them­sel­ves whe­ther and if so, how and what they want to talk about.

For Bris­tol Myers Squibb, Viragh empha­si­zes that pati­ents are at the cen­ter of ever­ything we do. “Our mis­si­on is to rese­arch, deve­lop and deli­ver inno­va­ti­ve medi­ci­nes that help pati­ents over­co­me serious dise­a­ses such as can­cer. With the #tog­e­theragain­st­can­cer initia­ti­ve, the com­pa­ny would like to make a fur­ther con­tri­bu­ti­on to sup­por­ting and empowe­ring patients.”

Acti­vi­ties of the initia­ti­ve #tog­e­ther against cancer

As part of the initia­ti­ve “#tog­e­ther against can­cer: Let’s speak open­ly and break the silence”, Bris­tol Myers Squibb will be pro­vi­ding infor­ma­ti­on on the web­site gemeinsam-gegen-krebs.de be repre­sen­ted at this year’s YES!CON, Germany’s lar­gest can­cer con­ven­ti­on for tho­se affec­ted, experts and influ­en­cers, on Octo­ber 15th and 16th, 2022 in Munich with a tra­de fair stand and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on work­shops. At the Ger­man Can­cer Con­gress (DKK) in Ber­lin from Novem­ber 13 to 16, 2022, the com­pa­ny will also pro­vi­de exten­si­ve infor­ma­ti­on on various are­as rela­ted to can­cer and the dia­lo­gue about can­cer with doc­tors and repre­sen­ta­ti­ves at its stand medi­cal pro­fes­sio­nals con­ti­nue. An adver­ti­sing cam­pai­gn in Munich and for the DKK in Ber­lin as well as in selec­ted print media flank the acti­vi­ties of the initiative.

Bris­tol Myers Squibb: For a bet­ter future for peop­le living with cancer

At Bris­tol Myers Squibb we share a visi­on: “Trans­forming pati­ents’ lives through sci­ence”. Our can­cer rese­arch pur­su­es the goal of deve­lo­ping the­ra­py opti­ons that enab­le pati­ents to lead bet­ter, healt­hi­er lives and, ulti­mate­ly, the pro­spect of a cure. Buil­ding on our expe­ri­ence and pre­vious advan­ces in trea­ting dif­fe­rent types of tumors that have hel­ped trans­form sur­vi­val rates for many pati­ents, Bris­tol Myers Squibb sci­en­tists con­ti­nue to explo­re inno­va­ti­ve approa­ches in the field of per­so­na­li­zed medi­ci­ne. Inno­va­ti­ve digi­tal plat­forms and data­ba­ses form the core of our work and should enab­le us to trans­fer data into mea­ning­ful insights. We use our com­pre­hen­si­ve sci­en­ti­fic exper­ti­se, sta­te-of-the-art tech­no­lo­gies and rese­arch plat­forms to under­stand can­cer — from dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves — bet­ter and bet­ter. Becau­se can­cer can have a signi­fi­cant impact on many are­as of a patient’s life. As such, Bris­tol Myers Squibb is com­mit­ted to taking tar­ge­ted action to address all aspects of pati­ent care, from dia­gno­sis to reco­very. As a pioneer in can­cer rese­arch, we are working to make a bet­ter future pos­si­ble for all peop­le affec­ted by this type of disease.

About Bris­tol Myers Squibb

Bris­tol Myers Squibb is a glo­bal bio­phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny devo­ted to the dis­co­very, deve­lo­p­ment and deli­very of inno­va­ti­ve medi­ci­nes that help pati­ents over­co­me serious ill­nes­ses. Fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on at bms.com/de, Twit­ter, Lin­kedIn andYou­Tube.


  1. Cen­ter for Can­cer Regis­try Data https://ots.de/b0Qbb5 last acces­sed 10.10.22

You can find more cam­pai­gn motifs here

Press con­ta­ct:
Esz­ter Viragh
Head of Cor­po­ra­te Affairs
Bris­tol-Myers Squibb GmbH & Co. KGaA
Arnul­f­stra­ße 29
D‑80636 Mün­chen

Con­ta­ct for press inqui­ries:

Sami­ra Bara­zi-Wer­no
Account Direc­tor | Health­ca­re & Che­mi­cals
fischer­Ap­pelt, rela­ti­ons GmbH

Other mate­ri­al:


Bris­tol Myers Squibb



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