A new online campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness month is upping the ante on traditional methods of advocacy, by encouraging women everywhere to ditch the ribbons and touch themselves, instead.
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It's not quite as dirty as it sounds. The campaign, called 'Touch Yourself,' is aiming to promote early cancer detection through self checks for breast lumps. It was launched earlier this month by F Cancer and Women's Health and Men's Health magazines.
The concept is easy: Women can use the Facebook app to pledge to perform a self check. Then, they can share a variety of 14 pre-written postcards with their friends, encouraging them to do the same.
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"A lot of people are pissed off about the 'pink' thing," Yael Cohen, CEO and founder of F Cancer, told Mashable. "They don't feel it gives them strength when they're going through everything. We wanted to give people a different way to interact with cancer this month -- a way that was humorous, light and, above all, actionable."
Cohen founded F Cancer in 2009 after her mother, Diane, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because about 90% of cancers are curable in their initial stages, Cohen hopes the 'Touch Yourself' campaign will stop late stage diagnoses by getting women to detect potential problems as early as possible.
"I mean, we're all 'aware' of cancer. What we need is to start educating and acting on it -- give people a call to action."
Women aren't the only ones encouraged to partake in the campaign. Seven of the 14 postcards are written for men to share -- from the "checker" perspective.
Most of them are humorous: a buff, Fabio-esque guy sprawled out on the beach, saying "I need to touch your boobs. Trust me, it's for science."
Others are more direct: "1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Pledge to touch yourself this October."
"We had a few that we loved, but decided not to use -- thought they might be a little too edgy for Men's and Women's Health," she said. "But they all venture around the same idea: Pledge to touch yourself, pledge to touch me, pledge to touch the random girl you take home from the bar, whoever."
In addition to encouraging early detection, Cohen hopes the campaign will help change the melancholy stigma associated with cancer by introducing a little laughter.
"We expect cancer patients to be quite solemn, to have this very specific experience," she said, "It's awkward, and a lot of times it really, really sucks -- but there are some parts where all you can do is laugh."
Already, thousands have taken the pledge online. The F Cancer website has infographics on how to perform self checks for breast, testicular and skin cancer, as well as information on warning signs, risk factors and statistics.
"The proactive approach is definitely the right way to go," she said. "I mean, we're all 'aware' of cancer. What we need is to start educating and acting on it -- give people a call to action."
Browse through the gallery below to see all the "Touch Yourself" cards available. Which cards are your favorites? Let us know.
This story originally published on Mashable here.