GIRLvsCANCER and BBH confront the stigma around sex and cancer

GIRLvsCANCER and BBH confront the stigma around sex and cancer

Half of the population will develop some form of cancer over their lifetime.

Of women who get cancer, less than a third are given any information about how a diagnosis or the side effects of physical and mental treatments will affect their sex life. No wonder 60% of women* with cancer say they experience sexual dysfunction.

GIRLvsCANCER 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.

GIRLvsCANCER has partnered with BBH to launch a new campaign addressing a major (but rarely discussed) survivorship issue of people living with and beyond cancer—sex.

As a response, and in partnership with creative agency BBH, GIRLvsCANCER has launched a new campaign to normalise 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, 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 the OOH and films 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 went live on 19th October, supported by social and digital activity. The OOH will run in Finsbury Park, Hackney and Tower Gateway from 23rd 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.


Campaign title: Cancer Won’t Be The Last Thing That F*cks Me
Charity Partner: GIRLvsCANCER
Charity founder and consultant:
Lauren Mahon
Advertising agency:
Alex Grieve
Executive creative director:
Helen Rhodes
Creative director:
Adam Newby
Grace Chambers
Art director:
Lucy Johnstone
Isabella Cheung
Senior strategist:
Jessica Garlick
Group strategy partner:
Elise Craft
Senior account director:
Sophie Waller
Account manager:
Megan Houghton-Brown
Chief Production Officer: Stephen Ledger-Lomas
Head of Film: Georgina Kent
Agency Producer:
Georgina Kent
Agency AP:
Sarah Cooper
Production resource director: Sarah Cooper
Agency acting head of art production:
Pippa White
Agency art producer:
Pippa White/Anna-Marie Mennecier
Media agency:
Build Holywood
Production company:
Academy Films
Sophia Ray
David Bird & Nanu Segal
Executive producer:
Medb Riordan
Georgina Smith
Production assistant
: Mali Davies
Edit house:
The Assembly Rooms
Lainey Black
Production designer:
Sophie Becher
Costume designer:
Katie McGoldrick
Kharmel Cochrane
Intimacy coordinator:
Kate Lush
Post-production company:
Coffee and TV
Exec producer:
Chris Chard
Colour producer:
Pete Burch
Simona Cristea
Flame artist:
Nick John
Luis de la Rosa von der Meden
Sound studio:
String and Tins
Sound engineer:
Adam Smyth
Audio producers:
Rachel Hough & Amie Nedwell
Music company:
Audio Network
Katie Burdon @ Academy Films
Head of photography:
Charlotte Long
Photography producer:
Cara Mills
Photography production assistant:
Dara Phillips
Photographer assistant:
Celia Croft
Digi Op:
Laura Heckford
Set designer:
Paula Salinas Arnau
Rachel Akinola

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