At EUSOBI 2023, we spoke with Caro Justich, Chair of the ESR Patient Group and founder of Be Accepted, a magazine that helps women diagnosed with cancer get to grips with their new reality, and radiologists better prepare and communicate with their patients.
What is Be Accepted and what is its purpose?
Be Accepted is an optimal communication tool for radiologists when having to convey critical findings to female cancer patients within limited time, to adequately prepare them for the next steps.
The magazine contains all the filtered, summarized and evidence-based information a woman needs when she is first diagnosed with cancer to immediately take action. The first time you hear about your diagnosis, you are unable to absorb any information, because your mind is trapped with other matters: the shock, how to tell your kids, why me, etc. You can not afford to lose time by starting the research.
You need to access medical knowledge in time. Be Accepted is a tool you receive from your radiologist that tells you exactly what to do and shifts the patient’s mind to her options. It’s something to hold on to with a nice layout that you want to touch, open and read.
We have translated professional medical language into lean language for the patient, which also saves a lot of time in the multidisciplinary treatment chain and enables eye-level communication. Women will know what BI-RADS, staging and other terms mean.
Why this close cooperation with radiology?
Unlike oncologists, radiologists do not usually get the reward that they should. We all need and aim for it. So one of my goals is that radiologists do receive recognition for the important role they play.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 4 at the age of 39, and was told I might not survive the next three months, it was my radiologist who caught me in my first shock and prepared me for the next steps.
I realized how hard it must be to communicate a cancer diagnosis, but I also understood the radiologist’s key role, because it determines how we patients start our journey.
My radiologist told me: ‘This will be a rollercoaster ride you need to focus on the end of the ride’. That’s something I consider every day and it took ten seconds of his time. He also said: ‘‘There will be loops and bumps, but we are a huge medical team and we will support you to reach your goal.’’
Be Accepted is my love letter to radiology and female cancer patients.
The name means that you accept your situation, you visualize a goal, you become and stay active.
Who is your target audience and what kind of content do you include in the magazine?
We have a very strong focus on breast cancer, but it’s a magazine for women with cancer and, again, a communication tool for radiologists.
It contains a program of the smart eight that are represented by the Octopus’ legs. The octopus is our logo because its favorite food is cancer, and it’s a very intelligent animal who is capable of escaping from inescapable situations.
We build the bridge to complementary treatments to make sure readers access peer-reviewed scientific information only.
The clear focus lies on academic medicine. By providing information regarding scientifically backed complementary support, patients will be more likely to remain resilient, physically and mentally strong, so that they can receive as many medical treatments as possible in one go. In addition, the complementary field remains under control and does not interfere with the academic medical treatments, but supports the patient to cope best with side effects.
A patient who has cancer faces a lot of challenges. Some patients give up treatment, which is now very effective, because of severe side effects. You have to know what you may expect and be prepared to cope with those side effects. This way, patients are less likely to give up and more likely to focus on their options and how to actively support their wellbeing.
In the magazine and online we introduce cancer patients to many tools like the patients´ avatar, workshops, impulses to increase their self-care and of course access to the high-end knowledge of leading medical experts.
What has been the response so far?
We launched during ECR 2022, with the support of the European Society of Radiology. Our first 6,000 magazines were sold-out in December. I am very grateful that I can serve my community: patients and radiologists.
Siemens is the first company to have offered strategic support, and already provides the magazine to their clients in the UK and the German speaking countries. We are about to finish the translation in Polish and Italian. Our pipeline plan is very full and includes a podcast and other supportive tools to be implemented.
We operate thanks to the support of our sponsors. Additional sponsors are very welcome!
I am a regular speaker at meetings. I visited five in September, including EUSOBI 2023, where I also had a booth.
EUSOBI 2023 was fantastic. There were a lot of amazing feedback and constructive meetings, and new plans were already made. One of the nicest statements I got from radiologists was: „Be Accepted is the missing link.“
We are looking forward to better benefit patients, radiologists and physicians on a multidisciplinary level. Stay tuned!