Pink products to raise awareness and walks to raise money, but when it comes to a cancer diagnosis there is one word on everyone’s mind: fuck.
When Yael Cohen Braun’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 it was certainly a word that crossed her mind. So she made a shirt for her mom to wear in recovery. That shirt read: Fuck Cancer. That slogan became a non-profit by the same name, one that addressed the perils of the disease with wit and humor and that rallied people around sentiments felt by everyone when facing down the Big C. It’s a message of empowerment with a built-in rallying call. A big FU to the big C, if you will. Even Yael’s title at the non-profit, “Chief Cancer Fucker,” reminds people to not get beatdown by the disease and that there is a community of support.
Julie Greenbaum, co-founder and CRO, got involved in 2010 after her mother passed away from ovarian cancer. Honoring her mother’s legacy is what motivates and fuels her day-to-day.
“My mother was one of my greatest mentors, her positive attitude was always something I admired, something she instilled in her children,” Julie shares.
Yael was working in finance when her mom was diagnosed. She looked around for support, unable to find an organization willing to engage and do what Yael thought needed to be done: namely, activating youth’s participation in the fight, which including encouraging them to talk to their parents about early detection screenings and prevention efforts. Everything she found was pink and pretty— something that cancer is not. Engaging a digitally savvy crowd was also an important part of spreading the prevention message.
The women came together after realizing, “that by joining forces we would be able to make a greater impact in the Cancer space. Our desire was to create and stronger more impactful charity. We bonded over this overarching goal.”
Now some people don’t love the word fuck. That’s a given. But the co-founders aren’t concerned. They aren’t trying to be doctors or politically correct. First and foremost they are daughters, bonded by an experienced shared by so many. “I'm learning how important it is to grant yourself the freedom to live your life authentically,” says Julie who dropped out of college to focus on running the charity full time. “To really get to know yourself by exposing yourself to as many opportunities as you can. It has taken time and maturity to develop this comfort.”
In between running Fuck Cancer, and being new mom to and Jagger, Yael also runs motherlucker.com, a honest breakdown of the realities of motherhood. The day-to-day can feel overwhelming; “we’re a smaller team and oftentimes we’re forced to juggle many different responsibilities,” Julie shares. But says, “Life doesn't owe you anything. You owe it to yourself to make your life the best that it can be.”
The includes remaining “constantly inspired by our team and the amazing people I continue to meet. I continue to feel a strong sense of determination and confidence in knowing that our charity is making and difference and playing an important role.”