Paintings of Hope


While breast cancer is one of the world's most frequently diagnosed cancers, secondary breast cancer – or metastatic breast cancer (MBC) – is the most common cause of breast cancer-related deaths. Average life expectancy for MBC patients is 3 years from diagnosis. For patients diagnosed with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC), a strain of MBC, life expectancy drops to one year. 

Despite high levels of support for breast cancer, awareness, understanding and research into secondary forms of the disease is much lower. Furthermore, MBC patients in Spain were denied access to critical treatments due the country’s longer drug approval times (when compared with the rest of Europe). With survival rates so low, every day waiting for treatment matters. 

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VMLY&R Health and Gilead created the ‘Paintings of Hope’ exhibition to demonstrate that there’s still plenty of life in patients with mTNBC despite their prognosis.

“Paintings of Hope” was created using a ground-breaking AI technology and creativity that brought the feelings and hopes of patients to the attention of the authorities in Spain and the health community at large.

Three mTNBC patients were invited to give their own personal accounts of the realities of living with the disease. VMLY&R Health and Gilead then used AI and sound analytics to convert the interviews into sound waves. These waves were interpreted by a specially trained AI robot, which reproduced them on canvases as paintings. Turning the patients’ testimonies into art.

The campaign raised awareness of inequities in access to medicines, and the emotional impact this has on patients. “Paintings of Hope” helped change the laws in Spain, ensuring approval times were brought in line with the European benchmarks. The legislative change gives MBC patients faster access to vital treatments.

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The exhibition has travelled to major hospitals and congresses in Spain and Europe, including ESMO. So far it has reached over 45,000 HCPs. It has featured on press, social and TV, achieving over 95.4 million reach with a media value of over €7.48M. The exhibition was visited and supported by politicians from all sides of the political spectrum, including ex-health ministers.

The exhibition was hung in the entrance to the Spanish Parliament at the exact time that patients and campaigners – many of whom helped to create this work – joined forces to speak to Parliament on October 13th - World Metastatic Breast Cancer Day. After this, shorter approval times for these types of drugs, including MBC, were agreed by the Spanish Congress.

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