Marvel’s newest Super Hero doesn’t fight Loki or Thanos. No, his main adversary: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The Super Hero Samarium was created through a partnership between Takeda, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), and international experts Drs. David Rubin and Ellen Scherl, as they embarked on a mission to help unmask the very real heroes who live with IBD.
Takeda invited seven individuals from around the country to meet with Marvel Custom Solutions in New York City and share their stories of living with Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC)—the two most common types of IBD. During a day-long workshop, the individuals opened up about the emotional and physical impact IBD has on their lives and shared candid experiences with the Marvel Custom writers. One theme emerged from all of their stories: An unwavering determination to help inspire others living with IBD. That is something Takeda and the CCFA hope to do with Samarium as they recently rolled out a new global initiative, IBD Unmasked, which features new graphic illustrations of Samarium’s adventures.
The graphic illustration series is available at www.IBDunmasked.com, where every view will result in Takeda donating $1, up to $25,000, to CCFA. The new initiative will also engage IBD communities directly through the campaign’s presence at select CCFA Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis events. Through IBD Unmasked, Takeda and CCFA aim to highlight the strength and resilience of the IBD community, encourage people with CD and UC to embrace their inner Super Heroes, and empower patients to have honest and open conversations with their healthcare providers, which will help improve management of their diseases.
“Each IBD patient I see has his or her own inner strength, which never ceases to amaze me—my patients are real-life Super Heroes, and I am thrilled to participate in IBD Unmasked to help recognize the courage of this community,” David Rubin, MD, Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine and Chief, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago Medicine, said in a statement. “Although there are more effective treatment options than ever before, the physical symptoms patients experience may be challenging to endure, and may leave them feeling isolated. Having a strong support network of family and friends, and an open and trusting relationship with their healthcare providers are important and sometimes overlooked aspects of managing these diseases.”
Every year, approximately 70,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with IBD. Patients not only have to deal with what can be painful physical symptoms, but just managing day-to-day commitments like going to work or carrying on with everyday activities may be challenging. Additionally, people with CD or UC often feel alone in their experiences as lack of public awareness and perceived stigma surrounding IBD may cause many patients to mask their disease by isolating themselves.
“Sharing the accounts of real-life IBD Super Heroes will help bring further understanding of what it is like to live with IBD, and empower patients to be able to speak openly about their experiences,” Laura Wingate, Vice President of Patient & Professional Services at CCFA, said in a statement. “The IBD Unmasked graphic illustration series and campaign website offer an engaging look at a serious topic. We are very excited to offer an innovative and new look into the lives of our patients and their caregivers and hope to dispel a lot of the assumptions people have about chronic diseases and IBD in particular.”
In addition to featuring the graphic illustrations, www.IBDunmasked.com is also designed to engage those living with CD or UC, and the friends and family who support them, with interactive activities—such as quizzes—and educational materials that relate to managing IBD.
“We are proud to partner with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, IBD community members, and leading GI experts to launch IBD Unmasked in an effort to strengthen the voice of this community,” Stephanie Brown, Vice President, Specialty Business Unit, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., said in a statement. “Our hope is that patients will feel inspired to have the raw and real conversations they need to have with healthcare professionals, family, and friends, to increase awareness, understanding, and to strive for the best care for their IBD.”
The campaign has initially launched in just the U.S., but the plan is to launch in Europe, Asia, and South America throughout the year with content and campaign partners to reflect local languages and cultures.