Kris Hallenga was only 23-years-old when she was diagnosed with cancer. It was shocking but she decided she had to use her story to help others. CoppaFeel! was born and that charity is on a mission to get ALL breast cancer detected as early as possible.
Here CoppaFeel! founder Kris and Social Media Manager Sinéad Molloy tell List for Life all about their super inspirational and super fun jobs, how important it is to check your boobs and how YOU can get a career in charity work.
It’s Check Em Tuesday so you know what you have to do. Read on.
1. Talk me through founding CoppaFeel for people who may not know your story or what your charity does
I was diagnosed with secondary (incurable) breast cancer when I was 23. I didn’t know I should check my boobs, so I didn’t. I didn’t know breast cancer could happen at such a young age, so I was blissfully unaware that my lump could be serious. Unfortunately by the time my breast cancer was found it had already spread to my spine.Frustration and confusion led me to research why I wasn’t taught a lesson that could have changed my outcome and soon realised that no one was educting young people about boobs, so I thought I better had! CoppaFeel! turns six this month and we have been super busy. It’s now run by six kick ass women, with a shed load of ambassadors dotted around the country ensuring every person becomes chummy with their boobs. A very simple habit that we know saves lives.
2. What do you think of charity work and what would your advice be to young people wanting to get involved in charity work?
Charity work is of course vital. So many life saving and changing services are provided by charities, and most of them get no government assistance. When we decided to register as a charity it was the year when charities were starting to see less income due to economic decline. Miraculously we have seen incredible non-stop support since the day we started, and I just hope it continues.I get a real kick out of seeing young people being super active for a cause they strongly believe in. The best bit of my job (apart from saving lives of course) is giving people the opportunity to be good people. My advice to young people would be to find out what you really want to do in the third sector, go volunteer and discover what you really believe in. If you’re passionate, you’re half way there already.
3. What is a typical day like for you?
The toughest question! No day is the same. I try to be at Boob HQ in London as much as possible so the girls don’t forget what I look like, but also because I get energised when I am surrounded by hard working, passionate people. The team are always on super drive because we have so much going on all the time, that energy is great to have around you (although, we have started office yoga to squeeze in some zen time as well).When I am not at the office I am buzzing around London to various meetings. One day I could be speaking to a TV channel about a massive campaign, the next I could be stood in front of a hall of school children educating them about their boobs.Of course I do need to get cancer treatment too, when I get a spare minute that is. Once a month I have to down tools and get treatment that keeps me here, that’s typically a work-free zone…..
4. Who inspires you the most?
Young people excited to learn things, our Boobettes (women who’ve been diagnosed under 35 who do talks on our behalf around the UK), my twin sister (who runs the charity with me), my team, and Taylor Swift.
5. What would you say to your 15-year-old self?
CHECK YOUR BOOBS. Touch them, love them, know them. Who knows what my life would be now if I had.
1. Why did you get involved with CoppaFeel!?
I first read an article about Kris and her sister (CoppaFeel! co-founder) Maren in Cosmopolitan Magazine – it was around the same time that Kris won the Pride of Britain award and CoppaFeel! was still fairly young. Then in 2014 Kris released her documentary Kris: Dying to Live, which put the charity firmly on my radar. So, when my role was advertised, I knew I had to apply!I like that CoppaFeel! does things differently, it’s a bit cheeky and playful, but ultimately we communicate a really important message – knowing your boobs could save your life. It’s definitely a cliché, but I wanted to do a job that makes a positive difference in the world, and our message is one with the potential to save lives. It’s also a lot of fun!
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Absolutely! Social media is now the first way the majority of young people hear about us, which means it’s one of the best places to reach out to our target audience. As social media continues to boom, it’s vital that charities take advantage of the opportunities it provides to spread their message in a way that’s less formal and more personable than traditional advertising. Most of all, it’s free. CoppaFeel! aims to remind people to check themselves when they least expect it, so whether they’re scrolling through their Instagram feed or browsing their Snapchat story, we’ll be there to talk boobs!
3. Talk me through what a typical work day is like for you?
There’s no such thing as a typical work day at Boob HQ! In the morning I’ll normally be replying to emails and catching up with our Uni Boob Teams to see what they’ve been up to on campus. In the summer I might be out at a festival with our volunteers, or helping at a photo-shoot with our Digital Boob Team (ninjas of the internet world, who help us spread our message online). I also spend a lot of time googling boob-related stuff (my search history is strictly private) or scouring Giphy & Pinterest for social media inspiration – invariably punctuated with lots of coffee.
4. What would your advice be for someone wanting to go into careers in social media/charity work?
If you want to get into charity work, start volunteering – between studies at university I volunteered for a development charity which helped me to gain experience in the third sector. Try lots of things, even when you’re not sure something’s for you. You won’t like everything, but knowing what doesn’t suit you will help you figure out what you do like. Read lots! The best writers I know are avid readers, and Twitter are yet to add an edit button, so nailing your grammar is essential. Lastly, be kind to everyone. It’s a no-brainer, but you never know who you might work with in future or who you might need to ask for a favour. Having a reputation as someone who’s good to work with is just as important as having a jam-packed CV.
5. What inspires you?
The internet is amazing for finding cool images and artwork, but truthfully what galvanises me most of all is our team and the people who volunteer for us. I work with a group of people who have big ideas and the determination to make them happen (and who recently installed a fancy dress box in our office). That’s pretty inspiring.
For more information check out the CoppaFeel! website here.