December 12, 2011 07:00 ET

LIVESTRONG® Announces Results of Successful Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative in South Africa

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - Dec 12, 2011) - Today, LIVESTRONG® with implementing partner John Snow Inc. (JSI) announced the results of its successful Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative in South Africa, a first-of-its-kind effort aimed at raising awareness about the disease, improving knowledge about treatment and challenging the stigma that surrounds cancer.

"Through the Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative, LIVESTRONG has educated communities, empowered an underserved population and saved lives," said Doug Ulman, LIVESTRONG President and CEO. "If success can be achieved in South Africa, it can be achieved anywhere. This initiative has taught us an invaluable lesson -- we really do have the power to change the way the world views cancer."

"By dispelling the myths, misconceptions and stigma that surround this disease, we are reducing the needless suffering of people affected by cancer," said Lance Armstrong, LIVESTRONG founder and chairman. "The success of the Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative in South Africa marks a human rights victory, but we can't stop with one nation. We are working towards the day when this initiative has been replicated in countries around the world."

LIVESTRONG is the brand of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, created in 1997 by the cancer survivor and champion cyclist to serve people living with cancer and empower communities to take action against the world's leading cause of death. In 2007, LIVESTRONG launched an ambitious study to learn how cancer is perceived around the world. The Foundation conducted public opinion surveys with more than 4500 adults from 10 countries on five continents representing more than 3.1 billion people. As part of the study, LIVESTRONG analyzed media around the globe, conducted interviews in dozens of languages and documented the global cancer experience. The research revealed there is a pervasive stigma about cancer -- not just in a few countries, but everywhere. Based on the findings, LIVESTRONG decided to take action by developing the Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative and chose South Africa as the first pilot nation. South Africa is a nation with diverse needs - 11 official languages, dozens of ethnicities, 50 million people and many challenges.

LIVESTRONG and JSI selected three areas in which to target the national initiative: Mdantsane (Eastern Cape), Khayelitsha (Western Cape) and Soweto (Gauteng). Over a period of 18 months beginning in April 2010, their efforts included:

  • conducting focus groups and interviews
  • empowering survivors to share their stories
  • holding community events
  • collaborating with non-governmental organizations, the government, church leaders and traditional healers
  • launching a door-to-door campaign
  • training community health workers and media figures
  • implementing a SMS-text campaign
  • hosting a radio call-in show
  • creating TV and radio public service announcements (PSA)

These efforts produced significant results, including:

  • 9% attended a community event
  • 9% had someone talk to them in their home about cancer
  • 24% saw a PSA about cancer
  • 41% heard a radio show or ad about cancer
  • 4% increase in knowledge of radiation
  • 21% increase in knowledge of chemotherapy
  • 4% decrease in mention of traditional healers
  • 9% decrease in those who said cancer patients are in "constant pain"
  • 45% of those who had heard cancer messages in the last year responded that they learned something new or did something differently about cancer

In addition to the numbers, the success of the initiative was also revealed through words. At the beginning of the project, respondents' views on cancer were:

  • "Cancer is a death sentence."
  • "The cancer patient suffers a lot of isolation."
  • "It terrifies me."

And just 18 months later, respondents' views had shifted to:

  • "I learned that cancer can be treated."
  • "When you love someone, don't abandon him because of cancer -- give him support."
  • "I learned to be strong and not feel guilty about the disease I have."

Expanding on the efforts achieved in South Africa, LIVESTRONG is continuing its anti-stigma work with JSI in Mexico on the Comparte tu Historia Campaign, in which they are collaborating with local organizations and health authorities to develop knowledge and awareness needed to successfully confront fears and misconceptions about cancer through the use of media, community outreach, special events and public relations. Ultimately, LIVESTRONG plans to create an adaptable model to reduce cancer stigma that can be replicated in countries around the world.

About LIVESTRONG/Lance Armstrong Foundation
LIVESTRONG serves people affected by cancer and empowers them to take action against the world's leading cause of death. Created as the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the organization is now known publicly by its powerful brand -- LIVESTRONG -- and is a leader in the global movement on behalf of 28 million people around the world living with cancer today. Originating with the iconic yellow wristband, LIVESTRONG has become a symbol of hope and inspiration to people affected by cancer around the world. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $400 million for the fight against cancer. For more information, visit

About John Snow, Inc.
John Snow, Inc. (JSI) is a public health research and consulting firm founded in 1978 and dedicated to promoting and improving the health of individuals and communities in the United States and around the world. JSI collaborates with regional, national and international partners to build local capacity to address critical health problems. Through management assistance, research and evaluation, and education, JSI works to enable clients to provide culturally appropriate services in an efficient, effective, and compassionate manner. For more information visit

Contact Information