FUCK — What is up with swear words? Practically every culture on Earth, has a particular way of showing displeasure, through the spoken word. Though none is more popular, than that of the Western world. Fuck – Where did the word come from and how could such a simple four-letter word, have such a complex set of contradictory meanings!
Fuck you (not very nice) – Fuck me (I messed up) – Fuck off (go away) – Fuck (frustration) – Fucking (well no need for translation here) – Fuck that (showing resistance to something or someone) – Fuck this (rebel) – Fuuuck (awe) – Fucking eh (Canadian cool) – F_ _K CANCER…. (the future of cancer prevention). – Read on! Interview from KA Vol. 6 with the founder of Fuck Cancer – Canadian born Miss Yael Cohen.
KA- Patience is definitely an underrated word, but in our opinion, one of the most necessary ingredients in starting any endeavor. How patient are you, and is this a needed character trait in doing what you do?
YC- Patience is so important and so difficult! Especially when you’re running full steam ahead, it’s natural to want to make quick decisions. The real value comes in the pause. Taking the time to really think something through, not responding immedi- ately. This has saved us from numerous mistakes, especially when tensions are running high. One of our guiding principles at the office is “Don’t make a permanent decision, because you’re temporality upset.”
KA- What is it that you do on a day-to-day basis?
YC- I have my hands in everything FC! From campaign cre- ation and implementation, to business development, fund rais- ing, strategy, annual budgeting and daily operations. Of course, there’s the HR side of things. Being the boss means that you have to not only have foolproof knowledge of your business and clients, but also of your team’s and your own individual strengths, weaknesses, and styles. I also eat, sleep and laugh. KA- It has been said that you would love to lead your team in an office dance and that you are the office “fire fly”. What keeps you so inspired and joyful; especially when working with something that has not been within the domain of joy (cancer)? YC- Everyday we help people through some of the worst days of their lives, and in doing so, we take some of their weight and bear it for them. I had to find a way to cleanse and recharge at the end of the day, so I could go back and do it all again the next day. For me, the endorphins from exercise are magical; they let me sweat out the day and go back strong the next. Plus, I passionately believe in what I’m doing and absolutely adore the entire FCancer Team, so it doesn’t feel like work.
KA- The phrase that sticks to my mind, is the one on your site that says in black and white, “90% of all Cancers are curable in the first stage”. 90%, that is an incredible number. What the F….CK. Why are we not told this, and are instead programmed to fear the C word?
YC- Great question! This is a big part of why I started FC!
KA- I know you must be asked this a hundred times a day, but how did you happen on the name? We all say it at one point or another, we might even write it; but to make a campaign of it- that is something. What inspired you?
YC- I built this all for my mom. I didn’t choose the name; it chose me. I never intended on starting a charity. I never intended on cancer, health and wellness becoming my life. I’m not the first person to say this; it’s something we’ve all been feeling but didn’t know how to articulate it, or didn’t think we were allowed to say it with conviction.
KA- Tell me a little more on how your program works. How do you educate people on F—CKing cancer?
YC- We build tools and campaigns that people can relate to. We use technology, humour, and celebrities, to let people en- gage with cancer on a different level; and this also helps us best reach and activate the youth. This year, we launched a campaign with Funny or Die called, “Touching Ourselves”. The campaign is geared towards educating people about self-exams and early detection, using humour and celebrities as a vehicle to connect with the public about this important matter.
KA- If I wish to donate to this amazing cause, how would I do so, and what will my dollar do?
YC- You can donate on our website at donate.letsfcancer.com, and your money will be spent creating and implementing educa- tional campaigns and assets for our community. Teaching people how to look for cancer instead of just find it, and how to com- municate and support each other in a meaningful way.
KA- If it is not too personal, please do tell us the story about your lovely mother?
YC- In 2009 my mom, Diane, was diagnosed with breast can- cer. This shook me to my core and has, quite obviously, funda- mentally changed my life. This was the first time I saw my mom as mortal. The first time I saw my dad cry. I was very involved in my mom’s treatment and recovery, to say it lightly. I was a research machine; I read every book, blog and article I could get my hands on. This is indicative of my generation. We help how we can, with what we know, and we know the digital space and social media. So I made sure that FC harnessed the power of the youth and invited them into a conversation that no one really includes us in. After her first surgery, I made my mom a shirt that said Fuck Cancer. To me, the shirt said, “Yes, I have cancer – but no, I won’t go down without one hell of a fight.” It said, “I am not a patient – I am a survivor.” It was something that I thought she would wear privately, at home, while recovering. I should have known better. Being the firecracker she is, as soon as she was well enough to get her hands over her head and put on a t-shirt (more accurately, let me put one on her), she wore it everywhere. My mom is not the kind of woman to say “fuck,” let alone wear the word fuck, so I was shocked when she wore it in public. That was not the most shocking part. People’s reactions were! People hugged her, high fived her, wanted to hear her story and share theirs. I always joke (but am secretly very serious), that I knew we had something special when strangers would hug mom – it takes a hell of a lot for a stranger to hug another stranger in our society. These two words were really powerful, and resonated far beyond my family. It allowed people to be brave and vulner- able, and I wanted to do good with it. So I started Fuck Cancer. .
KA- What’s presently on your music play list?
YC- Depends on the day/mood. Everything from Rolling Stones, to Janice Joplin, Sam Cooke, Adele, John Mayer, to Adam Levine to fun…there are always a few classical, country, rap, and dance mixes on there too.
KA- The F—CK cancer campaign has seen a tremendous suc- cess and response. What has been the most interesting (or one of the most) response to this campaign?
YC- Gratitude. I’m always blown away when people thank us. When people tell us that we’ve helped them, or given them the courage to be brave. Those are the moments when I exhale, smile, and know we’re on the right track.
KA- This is a design issue, and in the context of Cancer, how would one best design their life to be cancer free?
YC- Prevention and early detection. There’s so much we can’t control when it comes to cancer; but living a healthy and preven- tative lifestyle, means you’re stacking the cards in your favour.