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Industry responds with outpouring of support for Nicola Mendelsohn’s inspirational cancer fight

By John Glenday | Reporter

February 5, 2018 | 6 min read

The marketing and technology industries have united in an outpouring of support for Facebook’s European chief Nicola Mendelsohn after she went public with her diagnosis of incurable blood cancer in a newspaper interview to help create awareness ahead of World Cancer Day.

Speaking to The Times, Mendelsohn said that far from being cowed by the diagnosis, she was taking the fight to the disease by harnessing her position of authority in social media to raise awareness to combat the condition.

Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP of EMEA

Industry responds with outpouring of support for Nicola Mendelsohn’s inspirational cancer fight

Mendelsohn said: “With any disease, progress towards treatments is made when people come out to say: “What more can we do?” That’s why I want to tell my story. It’s rare to see people in business telling personal stories like this. I want to use my voice to help other people.”

That approach has been commended by organisations such as Women in Marketing as well as leading industry figures including Adjust Your Set founder Chris Gorell Barnes and Anne Richards, chief executive of M&G Investments.

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One of the first steps Mendelsohn took after informing her colleagues of her condition was to put herself forward as a joint admin for the Living with Follicular Lymphoma Facebook group, growing the organisation from a few hundred members a year ago to 3,500 today by offering day-to-day advice and information.

Explaining the benefit of this approach Mendelsohn added: “Follicular lymphoma has such a low profile that it didn’t even have a logo. As my career began in marketing, I know people need something to congregate around, so I created a logo for the group to help raise awareness of the disease. It simply says ‘Follicular Lymphoma’, with a drop of blood dripping from the ‘F’. Members now use this when we are fundraising so that we have a common identity for our cause.”

Mendelsohn concluded: “So, this has given my job at Facebook even more meaning. Our new mission — ‘Give people the power to build community’ — is something that I see happening every day in my cancer group.”

That community now has new momentum behind it with Lindsay Laugh, Nikki Mendonca, global president of Accenture and Ben Millar also weighing in with messages of support ( see below.)

In June, Mendelsohn was a guest editor of The Drum magazine alongside Facebook colleagues Sheryl Sandberg and Mark D’Arcy. Speaking to America’s editor at Cannes while promoting the issue, she discussed the importance of creativity to the industry in a podcast interview with the publication.

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