Meet our Soho Works workmate, Lauren Mahon
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, the London-based member decided to use her branding know-how to change the conversation and resources around the cancer experience
Local Soho Works: Redchurch, London
How did you get where you are today?
‘I’ve worked in digital marketing since leaving university and specialised in social media, as well as influencer marketing as my career progressed. Shortly after getting my first managerial role in 2016, the rug got ripped from underneath me: I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
‘Instantly my world changed forever. And as I started this roller-coaster experience called cancer, I realised that I didn’t have a clue. That I didn’t think cancer was something I’d need to consider in my thirties. That I didn’t think infertility and early menopause would be a thing. And that I was being handed leaflets left, right and centre, all of them with elderly white women in bad wigs in clinical settings that did not relate.
‘Overnight all of the relationships I had built, the skills I’d acquired and the zest I had for branding kicked in, and I came up with #GIRLvsCANCER. I wanted to share my experience of breast cancer in a cool way that would shatter the stigma, change perceptions, raise awareness, and get young folk checking their chests.
‘Four years on from my diagnosis, GIRLvsCANCER has moved from its own hashtag to its own URL, is six merchandise collections deep – raising more than £77k for cancer charities – and has won multiple high-profile awards for its work in the cancer community. So yeah, guess you could call that a cancer glow-up.’
What are you currently working on?
‘We’re back recording the sixth series of the podcast from the comfort of our living rooms. And we recently collaborated with Panorama on the fatal impact COVID-19 is having on cancer care in the UK.
‘The virus has pressed pause on many of my grandest plans for the year, and given me a chance to really reflect on learnings and where I want to be. I need to be able to exist outside of cancer now that I have the privilege of being cancer-free. I’m currently a one-woman show, so I’m looking for investors and donations to scale up and get GIRLvsCANCER 2.0 into effect.’
It’s been a funny year – what’s inspiring you at the moment?
‘I’m super interested in seeing people I admire pivot their businesses and content to adapt in these odd times. I’m also taking my inspiration from the ebb and flow of the seasons right now and being kinder to myself. Rather than throwing myself in deep to distract, I’m reading more, getting outside, watching more and burying myself in those that have the good energy and serve my higher self.’
‘Well, kicking cancer’s arse is certainly up there, but I have a few.
‘More than that, though, I’m proud that I managed to handle what life threw at me in the way that I did and to use my lived experience as a force for change. I have always been terrified of my mortality, and now I’m just glad that when I do go I will have hopefully made my mark.
‘I’m proud of every single message I receive from someone who says that the podcast or GIRLvsCANCER has supported them.’
Favourite quote/ words to live by?
‘You can’t be everyone’s cuppa or you’d be a mug. Fact.’
What challenge did you face this year and how did you overcome it?
‘You know what, my biggest challenge this year has been dealing with my mental health during lockdown.
‘Being non-stop since diagnosis has had its benefits in that it’s distracted me heavily from the trauma I’ve faced and has been the driving force to get stuff done. But the stillness of lockdown has been mega confronting and I’ve had to really feel to heal.
‘It’s meant seeking professional help and tuning into what my mind and body needs on any given day, not what I think I should be doing. I’ve now implemented a great exercise regime that I really enjoy seeing the benefits of, as well as pushing back when I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed, which in my line of work can often be the case.’
What are your three essentials for a productive day?
‘For me, it’s getting up and out and doing exercise first thing, because those endorphin highs are a productivity ally. Then I need a concise, manageable to-do list that I can tick off in a day – week-long ones don’t do my brain any favours. And finally, I’d say environment. Having a decent work set-up is key for me; some days that’s at my dining table and others I head straight for Redchurch Works. Just don’t forget your charger. Buzzkill.’