Breast Cancer Awareness Month Kicks Off with Two Initiatives to Reach Young Breast Cancer Fighters

Life just got a little pinker. Well, at least for the next month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month officially kicks off today. And to mark the start, Rethink Breast Cancer launched two powerful support initiatives to connect with women under 40 who have been diagnosed with the disease. Raw, personal, and lighthearted, both are much more meaningful and relatable for young women than a pile of pamphlets taken from a doctor’s office.

The first is called Cancer Fabulous Diaries: a first-of-its-kind, bold, striking, new magazine (available in both print and online format) that’s based on the raw, brutally honest, and highly personal diary of Sylvia Soo, a 30-year-old breast cancer survivor, who was diagnosed at 25 and chronicled her experience with breast cancer on her blog,

Cancer Fabulous Diaries features seven sections of interviews, essays, tips, tricks, and life-affirming stories of how to navigate through the entire experience of breast cancer as a young female – and to stay your fabulous, fashionable self while doing so.

Not dancing around any less-than-glamourous detail, it’s jam-packed with candid stories and vivid photographs that both speak in the language of females under 40. Although it offers practical advice (with things like ‘5 questions to ask after a diagnosis’) and coping techniques from survivors and healthcare experts, it’s also part memoir, documenting thoughts on things like single life, marriage, babies, clothes, ambitions, and careers…and what happens to all that with a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Our whole philosophy is to make the information that’s out there relevant to a younger audience,” said MJ DeCoteau, Founder and Executive Director, Rethink Breast Cancer.

“With young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, their lives are obviously turned around, but the core of who they are is the same. They still have the same taste in fashion and music and hobbies. They don’t want to feel like, ‘ok I have breast cancer, so now I am shoved in the older woman’s box’ because it’s typically an older woman’s disease.” 

And for that reason, Rethink is always thinking outside of that box in terms of their resources.

“Though we share important information and include interviews with experts, it’s packaged to be more engaging and relevant to styles and tastes of young women to offer a sense of normalcy throughout – it doesn’t have to be breast cancer-y. We make it feel like day-to-day life,” adds DeCoteau.

“When you’re diagnosed, you don’t want to sit down and read these massive piles of information – you’re not going to retain a lot of it,” said Soo. “Sometimes, all you want is to hear about someone else’s story and experience, even though everybody’s story is different. It’s nice to produce something as a mark as to what to expect.”

The magazine also serves as a resource for friends and family as to what to expect.

“I think a lot of people just don’t get the extent of the disease and how it affects life and that of family and friends,” says Soo. “It isn’t just diagnosis and treatment, then it’s done. There’s a lot to it – complications, surgeries, more complications, and reconstructions. Then you have to deal with long-term side effects and emotionally process it all.”

The second initiative is the launch of a video series, LiveLaughLearn on Rethink Breast Cancer’s ‘Boob Tube’ channel. It features five different young breast cancer survivors (including Soo) who offer tips on everything from the importance of journaling and dealing with chemo treatments, to how to treat scars and wear a bathing suit post-mastectomy. Through the laughter, silliness, and positivity of the women, the otherwise bleak topic is presented in a lighthearted and candid manner.

Both undertakings mark a refreshing change from most breast cancer resources available, which typically target women our mothers’ age – the demographic most affected by the disease. In fact, only 900-1000 women under the age of 40 are diagnosed each year (“I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones,” joked Soo).

The initiatives are set to change the game for the new generation…that is, until we can finally kick the crap out of the disease once and for all and send it into history where it belongs.



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