With screenings suspended, routine work deferred and only urgent cases prioritised, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the other Big C. In July 2020, Cancer Research UK estimated that there could be as many as 35,000 additional cancer deaths owing to a dramatic drop in GP referrals and cancellation of life-saving treatment, while a Macmillan Cancer Support analysis found that there are 50,000 people now missing a cancer diagnosis and that cancer is at risk of becoming the forgotten ‘C’ of the coronavirus crisis.
One woman determined to keep cancer front and centre is Lauren Mahon. Diagnosed with breast cancer at 31, Mahon created GirlvsCancer, an online community empowering women who have been affected by the illness. She’s also an influencer, co-host of the You, Me and the Big C podcast, passionate campaigner and all-round superhero.
Della Ogunleye and Karen Hobbs in the What’s Your Superpower? campaign
It’s fitting then, that her latest GirlvsCancer campaign – launched today, Thursday 4th February on World Cancer Day – is all about championing fellow superhumans. Described as “an empowering celebration of the human behind the diagnosis”, What Makes You Super? features four awe-inspiring women and highlights their superpowers.
In an attempt to separate the woman from the cancer diagnosis, – and in inimitable GirlvsCancer style – those powers are less “resilience” and “bravery”, more “twerking” and “motherhood”. There’s GP Anisha Sadler, superpower: healing hands, comedian Karen Hobbs, superpower: laughter, dancer Hatti Gaynor, superpower: twinkle toes and manager Della Ogunleye, superpower: force of nature. “Cancer patients often become defined as simply that – someone who has, or has had, cancer. A hospital number. A statistic. A scar. We are calling back our power’, says Mahon. ‘Having a cancer diagnosis does not make us super. We are super because we are who we are. I’ve grown very tired of the treatment and portrayal of the cancer community. Standing by as brands and big charity use our scars and stories as trauma porn. All cancer experiences are valid and all lives touched by it, valuable. Say hello to the humans behind the stats.”
Anisha Sadler and Hatti Gaynor in the What’s Your Superpower? campaign
Alongside the epic campaign, Lauren has also designed a four-piece clothing collection. Made from organic cotton and featured superhero-themed words designed to evoke feelings of empowerment and strength, the hoodies (£45) and tees (£32) are designed to be both gender and racially fluid to ensure all cancer patients are represented. Not that our loungewear habit needed any more enabling, but 20% of all sales from the Super collection will be donated to Alike, a new digital charity whose app aims to combat isolation faced by younger patients. Support from your purchases will help Alike get their app to market faster and provide cancer patients with an invaluable support network.
See, we told you Lauren was a superhero. As for her superpower? “Erm…connection. I’m great at connecting people and connection to others is my soul work for sure.”
Pow Hoodie, £45, GirlvsCancer
Boom and Pow Tees, £32 each, GirlvsCancer
Boom Hoodie, £45, GirlvsCancer