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Special Project

Special Project
From the 4th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Behind the Lens: Living with a Rare Blood Cancer

Finalist in Documentary Short


Every year, millions of patients, families and caregivers are impacted by cancer in the U.S. Some cancers are more well-known than others, but for those impacted by rare blood cancers, including myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), it counts to have somewhere to turn to for reliable information and support. As a part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness for MPNs, Incyte developed an unbranded series of four short documentary films featuring MPN patients. The series culminates with “Something So Rare,” a gripping compilation of all four stories. Directed by Cynthia Wade, an Academy Award® winning filmmaker in the documentary short category, these films serve as a point of reference for MPN patients who feel unheard or alone. MPNs can be difficult to diagnose or can be misdiagnosed, which can greatly impact the lives of patients and their families – making increased awareness, education and support critically important. Additionally, these videos drive awareness about MPNs and encourage patients to play a more active role in their treatment decisions by inspiring those impacted – patients and caregivers alike – to be their own health advocates.

Strategy and Execution

We initiated this project after weeks of in-depth screening conversations with a variety of patients living with rare blood cancers to find our storytellers. We wanted each film to deliver personal stories that were filled with emotion and coupled with powerful imagery to tell an honest account of what it is like to live with an MPN – culminating with an intimate compilation of all four stories. Because living with an MPN can affect every aspect of daily life, each film in the four-part series is rooted in one of the four elements: water, fire, air and earth. These elements and the imagery and colors they represent provide a common thread tying the films together and allow viewers moments to process the emotionally moving interviews and scenes, while helping craft a lyrical, impactful series about living with an often unknown and misunderstood disease.


Although the documentary was our core creative asset and campaign driver – we utilized many additional creative assets to drive additional success and impact, timed when possible to key MPN milestones. The first film in the series “Beyond Blue,” was released around Rare Disease Day (February 28) and supported with a national media day and Satellite Media Tour (SMT) in NYC – as well as a social media campaign to drive to the film and unbranded MPN disease awareness website. The film “The Unknown” was released in advance of Blood Cancer Awareness Month (September) and was also supported with a SMT in NYC. The third film in the series, “Gravity,” was released in May and supported with a screening event and media outreach to drive to the film on The fourth film in the series, “Invisible,” was released on on September 4 and was supported with a local screening on September 8 in Ohio in support of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, accompanied by a social media campaign and media outreach. Finally, the final film in the series, “Something So Rare,” was released during Blood Cancer Awareness Month and supported with a multimedia news release.


As a true extension of the film program, all of the storytellers participated in a storytelling event timed closely to MPN Awareness Day where they delivered their stories to a live audience and shed a light on a day dedicated to research and awareness for MPNs.


All campaign efforts aim to engage and inspire patients while driving our primary call-to-action to visit Incyte’s unbranded disease awareness website


The integrated campaign surpassed all goals. The media pushes around Rare Disease Day and Blood Cancer Awareness Month provided the campaign with even more relevance and recognition.


Video for Behind the Lens: Living with a Rare Blood Cancer

Entrant Company / Organization Name

W2O Group, Incyte Corporation