A Goldsmiths, University of London graduate has received a grant of $60,000 (£38,820) to build on her work engaging with, and empowering, Haitian women with breast cancer to communicate with their communities about the disease.
Changing governments, years of earthquake recovery, and a lack of both resources and expertise mean that thousands of people, notably women, die from cancer every year in Haiti after going without treatment.
In 2014 Grace Tillyard, who recently graduated with an MA Global Media and Transnational Communications from the Department of Media and Communications, was working with the World Food Programme in Haiti when she met the head of the NGO Project Medishare’s Women’s Cancer Programme, Dr Vince DeGennaro.
In discussions with medical practitioners in the country, she learned that a major problem in cancer care is that women only visit a doctor when their disease is so advanced that they are beyond help. Chemotherapy and surgical interventions at this point are drastically less effective.
After taking a Methods and Processes of Innovation module in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths, Grace was introduced to new approaches to engaging with, researching, and understanding an audience. This learning contributed toward her work with Project Medishare in Haiti in co-creating a campaign to sensitise whole communities to the causes and effects of cancer.
In a small focus group of eleven women, the narratives of each person in the room were explored, with each participant creating a ‘StoryCube’ which could be positioned on the card in relation to particular issues. StoryCubes™ are a three-dimensional tactile tool designed by Proboscis, an independent artist-led creative studio directed by Giles Lane and Alice Angus. In the workshop they helped illustrate and visualise different narratives around cancer at its different stages, how women experience the disease emotionally and the way that different stages of the disease are socialised.
“The session was not about diagnosing problems to allow me to come up with solutions,” explained Grace in her project report. “It was about exploring different approaches to communication and creating a dialogue about the challenges facing women who live with cancer in Haiti.”