Exclusive: Girl Vs Cancer founder Lauren Mahon on changing how we talk about Cancer

Girl Vs Cancer is one of the most helpful and supportive resources for cancer patients out there. It’s full of every bit of information you could possibly need and want to know, written and explained in a way that makes being diagnosed with Cancer seem a bit less scary. All the while being supported by a wonderfully diverse community who are able to help people navigate their own cancer journey and not feel like just another statistic. Girl Vs Cancer has helped created meaningful and life-changing conversations around cancer. It makes people feel like they are not alone.

“The whole aim of Girl Vs Cancer is to change the narrative. We don’t talk about it in the way people are used to. We are different and disruptive. I’m like the big sister of the cancer community. If you come to us then we are going to tell you how it is, no holds barred. We will tell you exactly how it is but we are going to give it to you in a way that you relate to and can take on board. And I think that’s the difference.

The language used, making it bite-sized and relatable as helped to change the narrative as well. The problem is, is the perception of illness has come from what we are shown on TV or what we read in magazines or what we hear from friends. When you get diagnosed with cancer you are told oh my friend had cancer or so and so’s dad had cancer, and yeah they died. And it’s not helpful! What is helpful is to see people who live with the disease and be among them. When people have cancer and survive they rightly go on to live their lives, they don’t rehash it. So all you ever hear is the sad stories, the tragic stories, so what are really want with Girl Vs Cancer is to show the width and breadth of every cancer experience. Every age, every outcome, every prognosis, every type of cancer, every ethnicity, every gender alignment. Because every single cancer experience is as nuanced as the cancer they have themselves.”

Its founder is Lauren Mahon. Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 31 years of age. And like many within her age bracket didn’t even consider cancer when she found a lump on her breast, as wasn’t breast cancer something only older people get. Breast cancer is the most common cancer type in the UK. Every year around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. In the UK you have to be over the age of fifty before you start having regular mammograms.

“For me as a 31-year-old woman, I didn’t think cancer was for me so therefore I didn’t really go get my breasts checked. The lump that I found I had for a while. And when I did get diagnosed I felt like I was being handed leaflets in the hospital that were for women in way different life stages to me. way more advanced. Elderly really.

It was while receiving her diagnosis and reading the pamphlets she was given at the hospital that she began to wonder about people like her who had similar mindsets and didn’t seem to fit in to the type of people the pamphlets she was reading were talking about.

“I got really bored of this narrative about what a cancer patient is and what experience of a cancer patient looks like.”

I was like hang on a minute where are the women like me? Young, vibrant, dynamic, you know larger than life but are dealing with a serious illness. But you know it’s so hard to come by. I was just a bit like sod this! I’m not having people look at me with that sad look and the head tilt of she’s about to pop her clogs. I thought that’s not how it’s gonna go for me. So I decided to take hold of my own narrative and inspire others who had the same mindset as me but not necessarily the same age bracket as me, to do the same.”

“I wanted someone to talk to me on a level of not like a clinical cancer pamphlet in a hospital.

So she decided to create Girl Vs Cancer in the hope to inspire and support others like her on their own cancer journey.

“I thought maybe I would find some people like me and I knew it would have an impact I just didn’t realise the scale of it.”

Girl Vs Cancer grew to become this huge and welcoming community that not only helps cancer patients but their friends and family to feel less daunted by what is happening to them or their loved ones.

“It’s weird because I knew when I started it [Girl Vs Cancer] that it was going to have an impact, because it was needed. I don’t think in my wildest dreams I could have imagined the scale. The thing is now I know this is just the infancy of it. So for me it’s crazy to think of like five, six years ago, Lozza sitting in her bed creating the logo in a word document, putting it up on her blog in the hope that it would support other people.”

With Girl Vs Cancer I never wanted to tell someone this how you do cancer, that’s why it’s a community-led thing, this is how we’ve done cancer. It doesn’t mean it’s right for you but this is just our way of doing things and hope that it will help other people and then find someone or something they can resonate with and help them relate to.”

Over the years Girl Vs Cancer has had many well-known influencers support campaigns launched including the infamous “Tit-Tee” launch which saw Gemma Styles, Danielle Peazer, Dom and Ink and many other well-known influencers lend a hand to help support the launch of various different T’Shirt collections. With proceeds going to various different cancer charities.

“The plan for the future once we’ve got more money in is to get more stock, as they have a bit of cult following. Because people love them and I love them. I think they are great. So comfy and stylish.”

“When someone comes up to me when I’m out and about and says that the site or the podcast has really helped me, I feel like everything is worth it then. All the stress, because it’s a lot of work. And it’s my lived experience so it’s quite traumatic at times. You lose a lot of people along the way which is horrific because I deal predominantly with younger people and it’s absolutely horrific, but these are the people that matter. These are the people I want to help. So it means a lot.”

The future for Girl Vs Cancer is one of growth and the continued goal of helping people navigate the cancer experience and continuing to strive to change how we view and talk about cancer. Lauren is currently awaiting to have charity status awarded meaning, she can fundraise and continue to grow the platform which has just had a huge rebrand with an impactful and very cool new website.

“One of our aims is to create a database so we can start creating our own small sections of research so we can find out the needs of the community directly from their mouths and then we can take it to bigger bodies and get things moving.”

You can check out the Girl Vs Cancer website here, and follow Lauren on Instagram!

Written by Kelly McFarland

Likes to post in black and white on Instagram. Avid Tea drinker, preferably Yorkshire Tea or Lipton Iced Tea and lover of Pop Culture. Contact: kelly@celebmix.com