We’re there on the worst days of people’s lives, trying to make them a little easier, less scary, and less lonely. We focus on people’s minds, souls, and relationships — not just their bodies when they get cancer. Our programming educates on the prevention and detection of cancer and provides emotional support by using digital communication, making information available and accessible, ultimately improving health outcomes and driving a significant social impact within our community.
I had the pleasure to interview Yael Cohen Braun (Co-Founder and Board Chair) and Julie Greenbaum (Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer) of F*ck Cancer. Yael launched F*ck Cancer in 2009 after her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mission was to change the way people talk about cancer and champion the belief that people diagnosed with cancer, their families, and their network should have equitable access to support. Julie helpod launched F*ck Cancer in 2010 to honor her mother who she lost to ovarian cancer. Her goal was to create an organization that would unify a generation of young adults affected by the disease, while raising funds for cancer research. F Cancer is dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer; it is a movement that creates a raw and authentic space by harnessing the cumulative experience of their community, Generation Connected. Gen-C is defined by a behavior rather than a birthdate, they consume digital content as their main source of information and may span across traditional generations. With wit, edge, and humor, F Cancer is changing the way people talk about cancer. Through digital media, programs and events, F Cancer believes its community will be the generation that ultimately improves health outcomes. F Cancer is a tax-exempt 501(c) 3 registered charity co-founded by Yael Cohen Braun and Julie Greenbaum. For more information, visit LetsFCancer.com or follow @letsfcancer.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Yael Cohen Braun (YCB): My mom got cancer, it all happened very organically from there.
Julie Greenbaum (JG): My Mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer when I was 15, she passed away 3 and a half years later, a few weeks before my 19th birthday. It was this experience that propelled me to start F Cancer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
YCB: The whole journey has been interesting! The moments that really stand out are not being invited to share our work at the White House, United Nations or TED, but rather the amazing patients and people in our community. The stories, the support, and love. I’ll never forget walking down the street in NYC and being stopped by a middle aged man who worked in finance. He was a total stranger and within five minutes he told me with tears in his eyes that he had bowel cancer. He found out when he lost control of his bladder in a large meeting. He was so open and honest, he just needed to share HONESTLY what he was going through and I was so happy that F*ck Cancer gave people the space and permission to do this. I knew we were on the right track that day.
JG: I don’t think there’s one story in particular. For me the most interesting and meaningful moments are when I’m able to connect with our community members at our events and hear their powerful inspiring stories around dealing with such a horrible disease.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
YCB: I’d hope our community could answer this better than I can. We’re there on the worst days of people’s lives, trying to make them a little easier, less scary, and less lonely. We focus on people’s minds, souls, and relationships — not just their bodies when they get cancer.
JG: Our programming educates on the prevention and detection of cancer and provides emotional support by using digital communication, making information available and accessible, ultimately improving health outcomes and driving a significant social impact within our community.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?
YCB: I’m proud to say, I can tell you about a few million.
JG: F Cancer has impacted all of our community members. Each individual has their own story and connection to the cause. I believe our charity speaks to them in different ways by providing support throughout our three pillars of prevention, early detection and psychosocial support.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
YCB: 1. Know your family history so you know what cancers you’re at highest risk for. 2. Know your body through self exams, so you know if something changes. 3. Get your annual diagnostics.
JG: Medicare for all! Coming from Canada where everyone has health coverage it’s frightening to know that people in the United States are dying simply because they don’t have health insurance. It’s necessary that all people have access to free cancer screenings and preventative care.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
YCB: Leadership means supporting ideas and people and empowering your team to trust in themselves. We’ve found a flat leadership style of “Guide on the Side” rather than a top down “Sage on the Stage” approach works best and yields the most happy, productive and creative team.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
YCB: 1. What you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to. By trying to do it all, you can end up spreading yourself too thin.
2. You can’t please everyone, and you’ll disappoint everyone if you try. We may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok — because for the people we resonate with we are their community and support during the hardest days of their lives.
3. Listen to your community/users/clients. Really ask and listen to what they want and need — not what you think they want or need. The company’s direction should be led by the people you’re creating/here for.
4. Drink your own Kool Aid. If you don’t entirely believe in what you’re doing, why should anyone else.
5. Plan for the future — build for 5 years from now, so that your infrastructure, brand and beliefs can grow with you.
You are people of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
JG: I’m already focusing on the movement I’m most passionate about with F Cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease that affects way too many lives, I truly believe by making a positive impact in the Cancer space we are not only improving health outcomes, we’re spreading support and awareness throughout our community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
YCB: “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” Plato. I think we’re often quick to judge others without knowing that is happening behind closed doors. The world would be a much kinder place if we could have some empathy and grace with each other.
JG: Feel the fear and do it anyways. It’s always important to push yourself to lean into the discomfort and see what’s on the other side.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
JG: Stevie Nicks — her music has had a tremendous impact on my life and I think she is a one a kind rock star!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
JG: @Julie_greenbaum and of course, @letsfcancer