Meet the man giving cancer the finger—co-founder of FVCK CANCER Luke Skinnader tells us his story.
We’ve linked up with FVCK CANCER–a kickass head coverings brand working to help those struggling with hair loss due to chemotherapy–to launch a collection. We hope to open up the conversation around “the big C”—a topic that is taboo to this day. As one of the leading causes of death in the world, we all know someone who has been touched by cancer, and yet we rarely talk about it out of fear. Open discussions can lead to risk elimination, early diagnosis, and effective support for those affected. It’s time we looked cancer square in the face.
Founded by Luke and Amelia Skinnader, the brand was birthed when Amelia, Luke’s wife, discovered she had an aggressive form of stomach cancer. During chemotherapy, Amelia struggled to find chemotherapy headwear that had any personality, and so they began making their own quirky, style-focused headwear themselves. Sadly, Amelia has since passed away, but Luke continues to push their mission of making stylish chemotherapy hats and scarfs that’ll encourage people to “feel confident and unique”, all while giving back to the community (a percentage of their sales go to Teens Unite and The Pink Ribbon Foundation).
A 14-piece collection featuring ballsy and empowering graphic tees, ‘70s-inspired prints/details taken from the original disco era, and co-ordinating headscarfs and bucket hats, this drop was inspired by Amelia and Luke’s love for life as well as Amelia’s unwavering strength. For every item sold, 100% of the profits will be donated to FVCK CANCER and their incredible platform.
In line with our campaign’s quest, we asked Luke to share with us his and Amelia’s story. Give it a read below.
I write this blog as the less eloquent half of FVCK CANCER. Amelia was always the wordsmith (check out her blog for proof). To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. The past 3 years since the initial diagnosis have been an absolute whirlwind with more than a fair share of heartbreak. But this is not the way I remember and reflect on the past 3 years. The burst of positivity and color Amelia provided to everybody she was around makes it hard not to only remember the good times. Even through literally the most difficult scenarios imaginable, Amelia was able to crack a joke or at least a smile. If I had a penny for the amount of times I’ve been contacted by people since Amelia passed away, telling me stories of how she had positively impacted their lives, I’d be up a few quid at least. I suppose this positive energy is the soul of the brand we both created—FVCK CANCER. It is the reason the brand took off more than we could ever have expected.
Back to square one. We both met while living in Dubai. At that time we were living the dream. Loved our jobs, our social life, our villa, our cars, our incredible group of friends, the whole works. Life was good. Then in December 2018, our lives changed forever. We got news. CANCER. We couldn’t believe it. We hadn’t really been exposed to the disease in our young lives until that very moment. Amelia was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and given 2 weeks to live initially. She battled for 2 years, being the stubborn little warrior that she is, before passing away on the 12th of October 2020. I say battle but most of the fight she took in her stride. Like a boss. She was still the happiest person in every room 99.999999% of the time during these 2 years. Don’t get me wrong, the last few weeks/months were incredibly devastating and difficult to watch but she handled it in a way that I’ll always be in awe of. A true inspiration and hero.
So. FVCK CANCER. The brand. Amelia was never one for hiding her shiny head after losing her hair through chemotherapy. She embraced the bald look and had a good shaped head for it in fairness to her. She bought bandana after bandana but could never quite get what she wanted. The material was either too itchy, too thin, not her color, too boring, you know the score. This is when I suggested we just design and make our own. BINGO. This was our calling. Almost immediately we took out our scrapbook and started drafting some designs. We looked into colors, materials, patterns and started sketching. For me, one of the best things about the brand was that it gave Amelia purpose at a time when we both really needed it. It gave us the opportunity to be creative and give back to a community we were now very much a part of. This was during a time when a lot of our visits to different doctors were to tell us ‘the cancer is going to get you eventually’ and ‘probably sooner than later’. Difficult things to have to hear. That didn’t stop us though. It only drove us to up the ante. We both had a passion for giving people something that would allow them to express their individuality. Amelia didn’t want to wear ‘cancer/chemo screaming’ headwear. And sure enough, she wasn’t alone. We understood that losing your hair could be traumatising. We wanted to help and support people embrace their bald heads and not feel like they had to hide it away.
As a business, we have grown from strength to strength. Our collection grew from just bandanas to baseball caps, beanies and tees. Not to mention a loungewear collection ready to drop towards the end of the year. The collaboration with Nasty Gal is my proudest moment yet. I know Amelia would be buzzing her tits off at the prospect. She used to do a happy dance for each sale we got so you can only imagine the excitement for this. As well as making Amelia proud, growing FVCK CANCER means raising more money for our selected charity Teens Unite Against Cancer. An incredible charity that inspires young people to recognise their potential now and, in the future, and empowers them to live every moment to the full. When you are faced with cancer, plenty of people will tell you what you can’t do, but Teens Unite shows these young people what they can do; without the “C” word holding them back or defining who they are. Spreading cancer awareness amongst young people is more important now than ever before. The earlier symptoms of cancer are caught, the higher the chance of beating it. It is also so important that young people who are affected are supported by like-minded people.
Our mission is to encourage our supporters to feel confident and unique. With FVCK CANCER, you can ‘do good, as well as look good’. Because FVCK CANCER. We will not hide. You will not win.
I’ll finish this blog with a quote from Amelia that pretty much sums up how she lived with cancer:
‘Have a great day everyone, I’m off to throw some glitter around and pull faces at people that stare at my bald head’
Amelia, this one is for you. Hope you are proud. x
For more on FVCK CANCER, check out their website.
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