The UK’s first organisation dedicated to male breast cancer has been launched by James Richards, an account director at London-based Cow PR. The powerful launch, supported by Manchester-based Be Broadcast, comes after James Richards was diagnosed earlier in the year.
Last week, James Richards founded the non-profit organization, Moobs, in partnership with Manchester-based Be Broadcast. As James continues his own treatment journey following a breast cancer diagnosis in February, Moobs aims to heighten awareness of male breast cancer and offer support to those affected by the diagnosis.
Discussing his inspiration behind starting the organisation, Richards remarked, “Following my diagnosis, my world was turned upside down. Despite catching the disease early, I was told to prepare for a terminal diagnosis, which fortunately wasn’t the case.
“It did get me thinking, if men are anecdotally less likely to go to the doctors, how many might seek medical help too late?”
He added: “Being from a comms background, I looked at how breast cancer was communicated to the wider public through the press and breast cancer charities and noticed that it was overwhelmingly skewed towards a female audience.”
Highlighting the disparity where 55,000 women in the UK receive a breast cancer diagnosis annually in contrast to 370 men, Richards commented:“I felt that many men would ignore finding a lump based on the assumption that ‘men don’t get breast cancer’.”
Richards, who has worked at Cow for almost four years, explained: “Before deciding to launch Moobs, I ran the idea past a select number of people in the medical profession as well as friendly press contacts. Everyone who I spoke to felt there was certainly an awareness problem around male breast cancer, so I knew the idea had legs.”
Having previously worked with Dr Zoe Williams (pictured below, alongside partner Stuart McKay) on a campaign for Heineken 0.0, Richards sought medical backing from her to launch the organisation.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month seemed like the obvious choice to launch the campaign, but it was important to not take the focus away from the 55,000 women who are diagnosed with the disease each year,” he said. “I had initially thought about launching during the first week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month but felt that the second week would be less likely to draw attention from women.”
The launch of Moobs was covered by publications including The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Star and The Independent.
Richards also appeared on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live, working with Be Broadcast for broadcast PR services.
He said: “Although I have strong contacts in the traditional print and online media, I didn’t have the same contacts within broadcast, and I knew that landing one of the key breakfast shows would really help take the campaign and the launch of Moobs to the next level.”
“Josh Wheeler at Be Broadcast was not only instrumental in helping me curate my key messages for a broadcast audience, but he also helped bring on Dr Amir Khan from ITV’s Lorraine (pictured above) to give additional support and be on hand to give interviews from a medical perspective.”
Josh Wheeler, founder of Be Broadcast said “When James told me about his diagnosis, I knew he would be alright – deep down – I also knew he’d do something amazing. I said we would be there from start to finish – and as the idea grew – we have, and we will continue to be. It was pretty emotional watching him fly on BBC Breakfast knowing the pain of this year.”
“James has proven to the world that you can tackle any challenge, turn something horrendous into something that helps others, and have a giggle at the same time. We need more people like him in the world.”
Of his employer, Richards said: “Throughout the launch of moobs, Cow has been fully supportive in my mission to raise awareness of breast cancer – and has offered its backing every step, from emotional support to team members jumping on board for advice and lending their expertise.”