Kennedy spearheads new cancer support campaign

WASHINGTON: Childhood bone cancer survivor Ted Kennedy Jr. is the media spokesperson in a campaign to announce The Wellness Community, a new online cancer support group.

WASHINGTON: Childhood bone cancer survivor Ted Kennedy Jr. is the media spokesperson in a campaign to announce The Wellness Community, a new online cancer support group.

Found at thewellnesscommunity.com, the nonprofit group provides education to people with cancer and their loved ones. The organization has 22 locations throughout the US, including Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles. The Wellness Community website is the first to be monitored by licensed social workers that have experience working with cancer patients. The online sessions are held once a week.

Healthcare PR firm Spectrum Science Public Relations is handling the promotion of the website. Susan Newberry, an SVP at Spectrum, and board member of the Wellness Community, is in charge of the account.

The group timed the launch of the site with the release of a study that showcased the positive effects of support groups, which was presented at the American Psychological Association's conference.

Kennedy, as spokesperson for the group, appeared on Good Morning America, where Diane Sawyer quizzed him for five minutes about the website. Kennedy then participated in a three-hour SMT. It was picked up in 31 markets, including New York, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Fox News sent the piece to its local stations, and the piece appeared in 30 additional Fox markets.

"As a cancer survivor, I believe the Virtual Wellness Community will fill a void for patients who do not have access to support groups,

said Kennedy, a Wellness Community board member, during the tour. "Having a place to share experiences and questions with others - as well as learning how to cope - from the comfort of their homes will greatly benefit cancer patients."

The wellness community website received 250,000 hits in the first two days of its launch.

Initially, a number of groups will focus on support for people with breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers, as well as lymphoma.

The site is designed to mirror a physical house with a mind-body room, library, garden, and kitchen filled with nutrition information. The website will also host physician and nurse lectures, nutritional workshops, mind-body programs, and other services for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Spectrum is now helping create postcards to distribute, and is coordinating a meeting between major news outlets and the people who participated in the wellness study.

"Because of the very limited budget, the onus was on us to use PR to raise awareness about the project,

said Newberry. "Our main objective was to differentiate how this was different from other online cancer support groups."

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