This one, I’m glad to say, is from Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), where I’m being treated. In the New York Times Magazine’s May 15, 2016 issue on “The New Anatomy of Cancer,” MSK bought a full-page ad. That of course wouldn’t have been an accident; I assume that the Times advertising staff put lots of effort into generating institutional advertising for this issue, which also includes cancer-focused ads from City of Hope (in Los Angeles), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard, IBM, Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (a 2-page insert), and Mount Sinai (the back cover). A lot of money was spent to put these institutions’ ads in front of the readers of this particular issue of the Magazine.
MSK’s ad told the story of a firefighter named Danny Soto, who, as the ad said in large capital letters, “had a family history of cancer. We didn’t let it define his future.” It described MSK’s approach to his case, which “helped Danny gain more control over his treatment with a precise surgery and intraoperative radiation,” and offered more information at a webpage called “mskcc.org/morescience.”
All of this seemed factual; of course no cancer institution’s stories are all happy ones, but I think it’s fair to tell a happy and truthful story. What I particularly liked, however, was MSK’s slogan, to which that web address alluded and which the Magazine ad highlighted: “More Science. Less Fear.” That’s simply correct; they are developing the science of cancer treatment and those advances do lead to less fear. All this an institution can rightly say, without claiming, or seeming to claim, that they’ve already found the key to fighting cancer. When someone finds that key, I hope they’ll advertise it, but right now, what it makes sense to claim, as MSK does, is focused effort and progress. More power to them.