Rikki Stern’s Cancer Chicks Redefines Support for Young Women

Cancer Chicks

Rikki Stern’s journey into the realm of advocacy began with a diagnosis that altered the course of her life. At 20, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — a daunting reality that left her yearning for connection amidst the tumult of her illness. Unable to find a community tailored to her needs, Rikki took matters into her own hands and founded Cancer Chicks, a sanctuary for young women navigating the complexities of severe illness.

Driven by her own experiences, Rikki envisioned Cancer Chicks as a lifeline for those grappling with illness. Through the platform, she not only found solace, but also discovered a profound sense of purpose in empowering others to reclaim their narratives.

What was the process like from having the idea for Cancer Chicks and ultimately bringing it to life?

“Cancer Chicks today has truly grown at a scale I could have never imagined. [It] began as a social media support group that I had created from the discomfort of my chemo chair in hospital and has now become a charity with over 1000 Australian women who all grapple with severe illness.

I had an amazing friend, Michele Molnar, who offered her support in co-founding Cancer Chicks as a charity, and together we built an incredibly board of female directors that helped us gain charity status and develop a team to run respite retreats, support services, and events for young Aussie women in need.

Today Cancer Chicks are running out first ever media campaign and the Cancer Chicks journey in its short life has been nothing but humbling and full of gratitude.”

In collaboration with Initiative IMPACT and MBCS, Cancer Chicks launched the groundbreaking FUCC IT campaign — a bold declaration of defiance against cancer’s hold. Through provocative imagery and powerful messaging, this initiative aims to spark conversations, challenge stigmas and inspire young women to live boldly.

What impact do you hope the FUCC IT campaign will have on young women facing cancer or severe illness?

“I hope young women see the FUCC IT campaign as a representation of themselves. It’s a platform where their true essence is seldom accurately portrayed. Too often, cancer fighters and survivors are depicted as frail, debilitated individuals, a portrayal we, as Cancer Chicks, disdainfully label as ‘Pity Porn’.

However, this portrayal fails to capture our true essence, we are strong beyond our physical limitations, we are resilient and wise beyond our years, but more than that, we are capable of anything we set our minds to.

I hope these incredible women see our campaign and think ‘FUCC IT — I’m more than my cancer.

It is also my hope that through this campaign, women needing support will find Cancer Chicks.”

The FUCC It platform and campaign transcends mere words to become a powerful emblem of defiance and empowerment. Through provocative imagery and compelling messaging, it aims to spark a cultural shift, challenging outdated perceptions of illness and amplifying the voices that need to be heard. By harnessing the collective power of community and advocacy, FUCC It seeks to empower young women to embrace their identities, pursue their dreams, and live life on their own terms, unencumbered by the constraints of illness.

Can you share a memorable moment or success story from your journey with Cancer Chicks that reaffirmed the importance of your work?

“There have been an overwhelming amount of moments where the impact of Cancer Chicks’ work has felt greater than anything we set out to achieve, but one I feel particularly proud of is our re-employment Program. We discovered that women facing cancer often struggle to secure suitable employment due to having to take time off for treatment, receiving diagnoses while in school, or facing unfair bias that deems them unfit for work.

Cancer Chicks understood the financial burden of cancer and have since been dedicated to supporting our community by partnering with Mirakl, a dedicated business providing voluntary coaching and career support.

This program offers Cancer Chicks support in resume writing, interview etiquette, and finding career opportunities aligned with their skills and abilities, enabling our community to enter, or re-enter, the workforce.

We have been able to ease the financial burden and give Cancer Chicks back their independence so they feel empowered professionally, despite their cancer journey.”

What message would you like to share with young women who may be hesitant to seek support or join a community like Cancer Chicks?

“I’d suggest they join the community as a bystander first. Its daunting to put yourself out there and come to events or write in our private group, something that I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to do at times too.

But regardless of what diagnosis you have, the treatment and reality of illness is all the same. Pain is universal and anyone needing some understanding on this is welcome.

The Cancer Chicks community is a truly safe space for people to be themselves, gain support and friendships. Even if all you stand to gain is a great lesson on how to draw on eyebrows, I suggest you take the first leap.”

Inspired by Rikki Stern’s tireless efforts and the impactful work of Cancer Chicks? There’s a tangible way to contribute to the cause. Donations play a crucial role in sustaining the organisation’s mission, allowing it to expand its reach, offer vital support services and execute empowering events for young women facing cancer. You can contribute to the cause by heading to the Cancer Chicks website.

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