Long Feature Article (Print or Electronic)

A cancer survivor’s story inspires her colleagues on health coverage

The article, published during Duke’s benefits enrollment period, puts a face on the cost of catastrophic illness and prompts a swell of campus employees to modify their plans.


When an article about the open enrollment period for health benefits brings tears to a reader’s eyes, you know it’s very special.

“Bonnie’s Battle with Cancer”—culled in part from Bonnie McManus’ journal entries from the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer—told her story while highlighting the vital importance of comprehensive health insurance. The juxtaposition of her raw emotions and the staggering numbers of what her treatment could have cost touched and motivated her colleagues at Duke University.

The powerful story, written by Marsha A. Green and published in Working@Duke, is the clear winner in the Best Long Feature Article (Print or Electronic) category of Ragan’s 2012 Employee Communications Awards.

The article featured photos of sections of McManus’ journal, portraits of McManus before and during treatment, and a piece of art she created after regaining her health. Depicting a renewal of life, it’s titled “Springtime.”

Leanora Minai, who submitted the article for consideration, explained the genesis of the article, which would be paired with a nuts-and-bolts piece on the benefits package itself: 

“In considering how to communicate annual open enrollment, we had two choices. We could write a dull article that included dates for open enrollment and other need-to-know facts with Human Resources jargon, or we could set out to tell a story, do original reporting and feature an employee whose life literally depended on Duke’s health plan.”

She also shared the impressive results of the story package: 

“Duke’s Open Enrollment period in October coincided with the publication of ‘Bonnie’s Battle with Cancer.’ During the two-week open enrollment period, 13,278 employees [out of some 35,000] made adjustments to their benefit choices and health plans.”

We congratulate Marsha A. Green and the staff of Working@Duke for their fine effort.

And we wish Bonnie McManus many happy years ahead.

To view the winning work, click here.

Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here: https://www.ragan.com/Awards/RaganAwardsPrograms.aspx

View More Employee Communications Awards 2012 Winners.

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