This is for La Raza: behind the scenes, inspiration and #FuckCancer

As I wrote in the introduction to #FuckCancer The True Story of How Robert the Bold Kicked Cancer’s Ass, by Robert Flores, the book’s title is what it is for a reason. One of those reasons is that it’s such a popular thing to say when people find out someone they know or love has cancer, especially online. Fuck cancer!! Yeah!

Who knew the title would be controversial? Okay, I did, but considering the topic I did not anticipate people actually finding the title offensive. But here we are and Robert has told me that he has encountered people who are, in fact, offended by the title. Wtf? Oh, well. Fuck it. The title could simply not be anything else. Both Robert and myself feel strong about that and are unapologetic about it, Why? Fuck cancer! That’s why.

In a world gone politically correct with safe spaces and trigger words, cancer can go fuck itself to death. If that offends you, you’re in the wrong place. I mean, for fuck’s sake – Rob Zombie’s new single, titled, “Well Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO” is okay but my book title is offensive? Get the fuck outta here!

Recently, I discovered (via the Internet’s own version of the prison wire) that old school Chicano rapper, Kid Frost, has cancer. His health status was greatly exaggerated online, but it’s true. What struck me about it the most was that he’s 1.) Chicano 2.) famous and 3.) he’s educating people about and encouraging awareness.

Quick, how many famous Chicanos do you who documented their illness publicly? Exactly. His fans leave supportive messages on his Instagram page, many of which declare: fuck cancer! Go figure.

Frost using his fame to raise awareness about his illness is awesome because it goes back to the core reasons I published #FuckCancer in the first place – Brown people and their stories/struggles with health issues, especially cancer, are rare in the media and lit! Both Chicano books and Chicano rappers are rare! Who knew?!

Oh, right. I did. :/

For a musical tough guy like Frost to expose himself like that? Well, I think that’s pretty cool. But I know that spirit well – I know it because of people like Robert Flores, who bared his soul in #FuckCancer. Frost could learn from Robert.

I don’t know Kid Frost or his people personally but I am a fan and grew up listening to his music. His music (and message) made a huge (yuuge!) impact on me as a kid and helped me find my own identity. So, naturally, I reached out to him online to see if I could help in some small way and send him a copy of the book. Not for any hopes of publicity or anything, but to help. I think he would dig the book.

I’m not holding my breath but it’s the least I could do after all the inspiration he’s given over the years. After all, this book is for La Raza.

"Jumping in (initiation) to Playboys" - photo by Robert Yager
“Jumping in (initiation) to Playboys” – photo by Robert Yager

Speaking of La Raza, this week, on my Instagram page, I gave people a peek into some of the inspiration for #FuckCancer. One such piece of inspiration is a photograph taken by Robert Yager, titled “Jumping in (initiation) to Playboys.” I knew, almost immediately, that I wanted this photo to be part of the book. It was the first image to come to mind once I had the title figured out.

It’s a striking photo to say the least and originally, I wanted to have an artist do a rendition or recreation of it, but instead of a guy getting beat up, it would be “Cancer” down there getting mobbed on. I also considered staging another photo and copying it, but with Robert Flores himself in the photo and doing the punching. Both of these ideas turned out to be too complicated to pull off.

Ultimately, I decided that it would be better to feature Robert himself on the cover, representing his hometown of Santana. Lowriting photographer, Art Meza, took some great photos of Robert for the cover and interior of the book and captured the spirit of the book beautifully, I think. Robert stands there defiantly, in his own hood proclaiming: y que?! 

But the image by Yager still sticks with me. To me, it represents what Robert and his supporters, did to Cancer during the whole ordeal. He kicked its ass. In the book, Cancer is a villain who gets its ass kicked. I know Robert feels the same way.

This next image might seem an odd choice for inspiration but it was more of a failed marketing idea than anything else. Still, it fueled the book’s fire. These things happen, especially when you employ guerrilla marketing tactics as opposed to having the deep pockets to hire ad agencies and publicists. When you’re online, often times you see something and squirrel it away for later…and then look at it way later and think: what the fuck was I thinking?

I originally saw this image on Tumblr and thought it was kinda neat, if not a little odd. I have no idea who took the picture, or what inspired them to do so, so if you do, let me know so I can credit them. I’d like to know the story behind the picture.

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The idea was to recreate something like this and make it either a sticker or a bookmark, or possibly even art for the book itself. I liked the sex appeal of the image and the fact that it has “fuck cancer” (poorly) tattooed there with EKG waves at the ends, and then there’s the skull in the background. Get it? “Fuck me” pumps with “fuck cancer” written on there? Sex and death? No? Never mind…haha.

Anyway, I thought the whole thing would probably confuse people and maybe even diminish the intent of the book, so I scrapped the idea and simply let the book speak for itself, minus any gimmicks. I believe that was the correct choice. But who knows? Maybe putting this on the cover would have sold a million copies. Probably not.

So, that’s a little peek into the behind the scenes of the book. Both of these ideas I discussed with Robert as we created the book. He was on board with both and also understood why they ended up in the cutting room floor. It’s a process, but one people are often curious about.

Robert’s book, #FuckCancer The True Story of How Robert the Bold Kicked Cancer’s Ass, is on sale over at Amazon right now and if you have not read it yet, you definitely should. It’s independently published, written and about as genuine as it gets. You simply will not find another book like this anywhere else,

It’s also available through Barnes & Noble.

If you have read it, please consider leaving a review for the book on Amazon or Goodreads – they help! You can also request it at your local library or school and ask your local bookstore to order it as well. It’s available through Ingram distribution. Tell a friend about this book!

If you or your organization are interested in interviewing either Robert or myself, do not hesitate to contact me.

As always, thanks for reading!

  • Maria Cresencio

    #FUCKcancer…!!!! I’m more offended by the word “cancer” than Fuck ! if anyone out there doesn’t think that this DEMON of all diseases doesn’t deserve a big FUCK YOU ! well SORRY NOT SORRY..get a LIFE

    • I agree. I knew there would be some blow back but when Robert told me that there were people who were actually offended by the title I had to laugh. Oh well. It’s one of the most popular phrases people use when talking about cancer on social media so I went with it and hoped it would resonate with people. Robert and I both feel it’s appropriate. Thanks for reading and for your comment!