Tit Tees and Destigmatisation with Lauren Mahon of You Me and the Big C

Tit Tees and Destigmatisation with Lauren Mahon of You Me and the Big C

We caught up with Lauren – breast cancer survivor, social media manager, podcast host, reality-TV personality and passionate advocate of living life to the fullest – she is a force to be reckoned with, and an inspirational trailblazer on all fronts.

Mahon is the brains and the boobs behind GIRL
and You, Me and the Big C. After being
diagnosed with breast cancer, Lauren set out to redefine cancer
from its label as the disease of the over 50s. Since then, she has
brought together a combined Instagram community of over 65k, offering valuable
support to her followers, and in the process, a daily reminder of
how powerful social media can be.

Broadening her reach from social media to fashion, during her
chemotherapy course Lauren began designing “tit-tees” as a way of
funding her work and raising money for life-changing charities such
as CoppaFeel!, Trekstock, Future Dreams and Look Good Feel Better.

In March 2018, Lauren launched a BBC
Radio 5 podcast with friends and fellow cancer patients Rachael
Bland and Deborah James (having never met in person until the first
day of recording). The show, You, Me and the Big C, explores issues
surrounding cancer through colloquial, informal discussions – a
breath of fresh air for many young people facing scary and
isolating diagnoses. The trio’s hilarious conversations both
destigmatised and normalised a topic that has been uncomfortably
taboo for too long. In September 2018, Rachael Bland, who
instigated the podcast, passed away – but not without encouraging
her co-hosts to carry on the podcast without her. Lauren and
Deborah have upheld Rachael’s legacy by continuing to unpack the
stigma surrounding cancer, through writing, interviews, television
appearances and charity work.

Lauren – breast cancer survivor, social media manager, podcast
host, reality-TV personality and passionate advocate of living life
to the fullest – is a force to be reckoned with, and an
inspirational trailblazer on all fronts.

What is the idea behind GIRL vs CANCER?

Following my own cancer diagnosis I went looking for women like
me who had faced down cancer and who could empower me to do the
same. To offer some hope. Instead I found all materials provided
and forums recommended by the hospital to be clinical and aimed at
a much more advanced life stage. I couldn’t relate. Fed up of the
perception that cancer is a disease for the over 50s I decided to
grab my breast cancer diagnosis by the boobs. I began sharing the
tale of my shitty-titty situation on social media under the hashtag
#GIRLvsCANCER. In doing so I created a space for females affected
by the cretin that is cancer to feel empowered in dealing with
their diagnosis.

My aim is to develop a community that shares its cancer
experiences in an authentic and accessible way in an attempt to
tackle the cancer taboo and create a better understanding of the
challenges facing those diagnosed with cancer in their 20s and

You share many significant, heart-warming stories on GIRL vs
CANCER. What’s the key message?

Cancer affects one in two of us so if it isn’t you directly it’s
going to be somebody you love. In a world where we seem to be
comfortably numb in our day-to-day lives I want to that ensure my
peers feel empowered to own their health. I also want to give
people some perspective; we get so bogged down in the everyday
dramas that we forget to stop and appreciate how incredibly
beautiful life is and how lucky we are to be here. This is not a
test, people. Do your utmost to live your best life everyday.
Tomorrow isn’t promised.

You’re known for talking about cancer in colloquial terms; how
important do you think this is for cancer patients themselves, as
well as for their family and friends?

I think it’s vital, talking to people in a way they can relate
too means they’ll inevitably be more engaged. Above all, I feel
like it makes the subject more palatable and less frightening. I
always joke that I talk about cancer like it’s Eastenders but if
that’s what I need to do to keep the conversation flowing and
normalised then so be it.

How did you get the idea for your podcast You, Me and the Big

I’d love to take credit but it was all down to Rachael. We had
talked on social media during our treatments, encouraging and
consoling each other when times got tough. Rachael slid into my DMs
and email inbox after she’d written a piece for my community asking
if I’d like to be part of a “cool cancer blogger podcast” idea she
was pitching. I was honoured and excited because it’s exactly what
the cancer community needed. The idea was to lift the curtain on
the cancer experience, to put it on prime time and normalise the
conversation. I’m extremely proud to be part of this game-changing

How has Rachael’s death affected the podcast?

I think both Deb and I are super nervous about doing our girl’s
legacy justice. She made it abundantly clear that she wanted us to
continue but it’s going to be difficult getting back in that studio
with Rach’s seat empty. We’ll be carrying her with us through every
producing our pre-recorded outros and will find a way to move the
show forward in a way that feels authentic and respectful. Since
Rachael’s death the outpouring of praise for the podcast has been
overwhelming; it’s very clear that it is changing the cancer
experience for patients, carers and clinicians. It has highlighted
the importance of our work.

What other podcasts do you enjoy listening to?

I really love Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell’s Wobble to uplift
and inspire me, as well as Liv Purvis and Charlotte’s The Fringe Of
It to feel like you’re chatting with friends. How I Built This is
epic for getting my brain ticking over and feeling motivated in my
career. And then there’s My Dad Wrote A Porno. Because LOLs.

How has your view on life and the world changed since your
cancer diagnosis?

Mainly that time is absolutely the most precious commodity in
life. I choose to spend it much more wisely now than I ever did and
appreciate the smaller things so much more. I’m grateful for time
spent with family, my favourite song coming on the radio and sun
coming through my window – as corny as it sounds. Life put simply
is a series of moments and I intend to make them count.

Does this renewed sense of urgency to “live more” include

Definitely. I’m much more inclined to just go ahead and book now
rather than worrying about time off or finances. Getting away does
wonders for my mental health and I don’t put off opportunities to
travel anymore. Getting away little and often has been my motive
this year and I feel renewed for it. I want to make big memories
and absorb all the world has to offer.

You recently went on Channel 4’s First Dates Hotel. What key
items did you pack?

I never go anywhere without my Castana black espadrilles because
they go with everything. I always take my iPad to check on emails
and stream shows during the flight and never ever set off without
my Pai Skincare mini’s to make sure my skincare routine isn’t
interrupted. For this trip, I also packed my Nan’s small ceramic
celtic cross for good luck.

What do you think makes a good hotel?

It’s all about the little details. A place you don’t ever want
to leave. Most of the time that can be down to the incredibly
accommodating staff, luxurious amenities in your room. I’m a sucker
for a good roll-top bath, a cosy robe and an epic view.

Where do you go to relax?

Getting away to the water always chills me out. This year I
visited Koggla Lake in Sri
and it blew me away. But I really loved making the most
of the epic UK summer and exploring what our
country has to offer this year. Cornwall may as well be the med
on a sunny day and the Cotswolds are good for the soul.
My favourite place to head to when I need some real R&R is my
parents caravan on the Isle Of Sheppy in Kent; it’s full of
childhood memories and life is at a super slow pace.

How do you prepare for a trip?

Once flights are booked I get stuck into finding some cool and
affordable accommodation. I love searching out awesome places to
visit via recommendations from friends and will usually plan a
loose itinerary ahead of time. This helps me to pack modestly
otherwise I can go a bit “cray” with the clothing. Once I have the
wardrobe sorted it’s about getting myself in holiday mode which
usually involves a couple of days getting my ducks in a row
work-wise as well as booking in essentials like mani, pedi and wax.
I’m also doing my best to digital detox while away so I make a
mental note of the images I’m after before I go so it’s snap, post,
shut off. Geeky I know but it works.

Apart from your wonderful “tit-tees” – what else is in your

It always depends on where I’m visiting but I without fail pack
a luxe set of PJs and my favourite lightweight knit for travelling
and chilly nights. I love choosing what books to take too – it’s one of the
only times I really get to sink my teeth into one.

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