07/27/2012 06:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Digitally Disrupting the Cancer Space

It's safe to say I spend a lot of time in the cancer space. In 2009 I founded FCancer, and over the last three years we've noticed a few things were missing in the cancersphere. Three areas our community identified as needing a little extra attention were: improving communication, simplifying nutrition and understanding early detection of cancer -- things that were sometimes available, but maybe just not in a really accessible and understandable way. So we at FCancer decided to build the assets, tools and information technology that can really change the cancer space.

1. We don't really know how to talk about cancer. I mean really talk about cancer, not around it. We feel guilty, confused, uncomfortable and a million other emotions. Although this is natural, it means that we often ask empty questions ("How are you?"), give hollow support ("I'm here if you need anything") or give vacant answers ("I'm good"). We wanted to create a shift in how we talk about cancer and how we show support. So we built a set of resources to help people learn to navigate the part of cancer we sometimes forgot to teach. Things like: how to tell your mom you have cancer, how to tell your partner your child has cancer, how to explain to your 5-year-old what's going on in their body, how to support a sibling with cancer and, if you're the patient, how to ask for the help you need and really discuss what you're going through. We wanted to help teach people how to have meaningful conversations and give valuable support. Cancer isn't going anywhere soon, so we need to learn how to discuss it authentically and support each other in a significant way.


One of many communication info-graphics.

2. Knowing what to eat is tough these days. It seems like so many foods are either made of carcinogens or contain them. Not to mention the hundreds of fad diets competing for your attention, vigorously telling you why you're going to be fat/unhealthy/sad/sick if you don't follow their rules meticulously. Simplification is key when it comes to our over-stimulated, over-informed society. So, naturally, we took it back to the basics. Our new tools break down the food world into bite-sized pieces. We explain what specific foods actually do to your body and let you decide how to nourish yourself. We want to make it easy for people to understand that every body is different and needs different food for optimal health. Eating clean, whole foods is always a good foundation.


FCancer breaks down how different parts of diet affect the body.

3. It's hard to really understand early detection in a practical way. People often don't know where to begin and get overwhelmed by the plethora of information available. We built an application that makes early detection more accessible and attainable by filtering specific risk factors, from lifestyle to family history, to produce a list of the types of cancers that should be on one's radar. This way, people can quickly and easily get a clear picture of exactly what matters to them when it comes to early detection.


This year, we've been busy developing the assets above, as well as building a new home for resources, tools, and information that our community has told us they need or needs we've identified in the cancer space. I'm so excited and proud to give this to the Fuck community this week. This is far more than a site relaunch; it's a toolbox of educational resources and communication tools for learning about and dealing with cancer. It's human information and answers for a human experience. Somewhere along the way we started treating people like patients, not humans. Fuck Cancer wants to change that by giving simple, authentic information, and support to our community.

For more by Yael Cohen, click here.

For more on cancer, click here.