Half of the population will develop some form of cancer over their lifetime.
Of women that get cancer, less than a third are given any information about how a diagnosis or the side effects of treatments, both physical and mental, will affect their sex life.
No wonder 60% of women with cancer say they experience sexual dysfunction, the group said.
GIRLvsCANCER said it is determined to bring fundamental awareness to this issue, starting a conversation that confronts the stigma and puts the cancer community’s sexual health and pleasure – during and after diagnosis and treatment – in the spotlight.
As a response, and in partnership with creative agency BBH, GIRLvsCANCER is launching a provocative campaign, aimed at normalising sex and cancer as something that can be openly and candidly discussed.
At the centre of the campaign, created by BBH and photographer Katie Burdon, is a visual OOH execution that stops people in their tracks, with sensuously shot close up nudes of women with experience of cancer and the powerful line: ‘Cancer won’t be the last thing that f*cks me’.
The campaign is further supported by three films, also from BBH and directed by Sophia Ray, featuring women talking about their cancer journey and rediscovering their sexuality through the themes of mind, body and soul.
The films are defiant and sexy, without being explicit. They subvert the conventional narratives around cancer to an unexpected (happy) ending with one including a lip biting, sensual orgasm.
Authenticity is at the heart of this campaign. All the women featured in both the OOH and films have, or have had, cancer.
The film scripts were all written in close collaboration with the women, telling their stories in a way that felt real, raw and faithful to their experience.
A social campaign will run alongside the work, and illustrators Antony Burril, Marylou Faure, Kris Andrew Small, Kelly Anna, Telegramme, RUDE, Adam Hayes and Biff will be releasing their own interpretations of the campaign concept, which will be featured on GIRLvsCANCER’S social media.
Lauren Mahon, founder of GIRLvsCANCER: “Sexual wellness should be a part of ongoing routine cancer care, but providing learning resources for healthcare professionals only helps if their patients are empowered to have a conversation about this topic.
“GIRLvsCANCER heroes the human being attached to the diagnosis and shines a light on the variety of ways that a cancer diagnosis affects lives.
“BBH’s ‘straight to it’ approach to this topic is certainly going to put it on the agenda and help to make it a less taboo part of cancer treatment and recovery.”
Helen Rhodes, ECD BBH: “Every single woman in cancer care deserves to get the help they need, but for myriad reasons, often aren’t able to ask for it.
“Our approach might make some people uncomfortable and that’s fine. As long as it gets people talking, we know that’s the most effective way to kickstart change.”
The films will go live today, 19 October, supported by social and digital activity. The OOH will run in Finsbury Park, Hackney and Tower Gateway from 23 October.
It will drive people to a dedicated section on the GIRLvsCANCER website housing advice and information and a survey to gather more insights on the issue, which will feed into a secondary wave of research and better, more bespoke support.
Described as the ‘fierce as f—k cancer collective’, GIRLvsCANCER is an inclusive community-led charity for all cancer experiences, collaborating to crush the stigma and create change.
To do what needs to be done to empower anyone dealing with a diagnosis and impact improvements of the cancer experience for all.