How This Organization Is Using Lube and Lipstick to Rethink Breast Cancer

The median age of breast-cancer diagnosis in the U.S. is 61—but what do you do when someone you know gets diagnosed earlier—say, in their twenties or thirties? Somehow, a “get better soon” text or 1-800-Flowers delivery seems woefully inadequate, and yet if you haven’t been in their shoes, it’s hard to know what the right gesture is.

Now, one organization has made it their mission to answer that question—providing young women with breast cancer with products they can actually use, while helping those who love them understand what they’re going through during treatment. Rethink Breast Cancer is a Toronto-based organization that advocates, educates, and provides resources for women under 40 affected by the disease, and this month they’ve launched Give-A-Care, a collection of thoughtfully curated, cleverly packaged products specially designed to meet the needs of the millennial (and millennial-ish) set. Among the wares? Soothing peppermint-and-eucalyptus headache balm, a cozy hoodie offered in partnership with H&M, a cashmere toque (that’s Canadian for “hat”) by The Cashmere Shop, Aveda lipstick, and a bottle of lube—all with hangtags that sound like they were written by your sarcastic best friend. So ginger candies become “No-I’m-Not-Hungover-I-Already-Had-To-Trade-In-Gin-And-Tonics-For-Ginger-Candies” and a tube of hand cream becomes “My-Emotions-Are-So-Out-Of-Whack-That-Even-My-Skin-Is-Being-Too-Sensitive-Hand-Cream.” “We hear all the time that women don’t want to be treated differently just because they have cancer, explains MJ DeCoteau, founder and executive director of Rethink Breast Cancer. “They still like the same styles, listen to the same music, follow the same blogs, and often retain the same sense of humor. Funny can help in these hard times.” So don’t expect to see any dour labels or clinical packaging in the collection. “Breast cancer is difficult enough, and we didn’t want the line to make people feel more scared or afraid—we wanted them to feel understood,” she says, adding that the idea behind the rather verbose hangtags was also to provoke communication between women with breast cancer and their support networks—whether that’s through helping answer the question of how to talk to young children about the disease or just lightening up a conversation with candy hearts that “No Pity Parties” and “Hot Flash Stuff.” “The hope is that in reading and sharing the products with their clever names, everyone learns a little about the breast cancer experience so they can be empathetic and offer the right type of support,” says DeCoteau, explaining that the products were chosen based on the organization’s Care Guidelines, a set of recommendations that addresses the particular needs of young women, including fertility issues, early menopause, feelings of isolation, and career disruption. And, this being millennials it’s geared at, the collection is thoroughly Instagrammable—you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a buzzy new line of lifestyle products on first glance. Plus, you can feel good knowing 100 percent of the proceeds from Give-A-Care purchases go towards the organization’s research, education, and advocacy work, and with prices ranging from $ 2 (for a Do Not Disturb sign) to $ 200 (for a large curated care package), it’s easy to pick a selection that fits your budget. No offense to flowers (or bouquet emojis), but they’re going to have to work a little bit harder next time if they want to compete with that. StyleCaster