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A Conversation with Yael Cohen of FCancer

Posted on August 2, 2011, 3:03 PM
A Conversation with Yael Cohen of FCancer
Yael Cohen (right) and her mother in the “censored’ version of the T-shirts.

Fighting cancer through early detection

How did you come up with the idea for FCancer?

It was very organic. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, and it started with a t-shirt I bought for her after my first breast cancer surgery that read “FCancer”. She wore it everywhere and the responses she received were amazing. People stopped her in the streets, gave her hugs and wanted to hear her story. They also wanted to buy the shirt so I started to make and sell them for charity.

I soon realized that the money I was raising could really do something to change the way people approached cancer. I was so thankful that early detection saved my mother’s life and I wanted to start a movement that was patient centric and focused on educating the public about early detection.

How is FCancer different from other cancer charities?

We don’t fund cancer research. Instead, we focus solely on educating people on the importance of early detection and giving them the tools to do so. Our goal is to put an end to late stage cancer and to challenge the younger generation to engage with their parents and loved ones about early detection.

Why is education about cancer and early detection so imperative?

It’s imperative because I don’t think it’s something that’s discussed enough. Cancer isn’t a taboo subject anymore, but it’s not a topic of discussion at the dinner table and people still don’t know the basics. Over 90% of cancers are curable if caught in stage one. So people need to know what to look for, and what questions to ask. We all need to become advocates of our own health.

Why is family history important?

To know your family history helps you to know what to look out for and when to go get checked. Some of these seemingly benign or embarrassing symptoms are the things we need to keep teaching so our loved ones can catch anything at the earliest possible stage.

What is “The Awkward Talk”?

Cancer used to be something that people never talked about. So, we’ve asked the younger generation to take initiative, and talk to their parents and grandparents about their family history and the importance of early detection. And it’s an awkward conversation to have. We compare it to the sex talk because while sex is not easy for our parents to talk to us about they still have that talk because they love us and want to keep us safe. We encourage kids to have the cancer talk with their parents for the same reasons.

How does FCancer help you have that talk?

We just launched, “The Cancer Talk” campaign which uses humor to help get the conversation started. When you visit our site you’ll find videos of celebrities candidly talking about the “sex talk” their parents had with them. They also explain why having your own “cancer talk” with your parents is so important. Then if you want some help initiating the conversation you can select to have one of our celebrity friends call your parents and leave them a voicemail letting them know you’d like to sit down and talk with them. The sole purpose of the voicemail option is to get parents, and their kids to make some time to talk.

Once you send it and enter in some information about your family we send you the tools you need to have the talk based on your input. It’s a step-by-step guide on what to ask your loved ones when you have the talk, and how your family can best approach early detection.

Why is it important for the younger generation to get involved in the fight against cancer?

I honestly believe that if you want people to change the way they think you have to go to the younger generation first. We’re at this really interesting place in history where so much information is available right at our fingertips. Social media and technology have given us the ability to learn so much about what’s happening right now, and the younger generation is actually teaching the older generation more than ever before.

It’s ultimately about taking the opportunity to learn about early detection and turning it into our responsibility to share it with the ones we love. A 20-minute conversation could save a life.


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