Sisters Takia (pictured right) and Tasha Clark were kicked out from a King of Prussia, Pa., mall after reportedly refusing to remove their hats, which read “FU*K CANCER,” with the letter ‘C’ replaced by the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon symbol. The young women sported the profanity-laden hats in support of their mother, Jackie Underwood, 51, who lost her battle with the disease on May 14th, reports Philly.com.
As the sisters were shopping at the mall, along with another sister, Makia Underwood (pictured left); friends; and relatives for a funeral dress for Zakia’s 9-year-old daughter, they were approached by a security guard.
The security guard ordered the women to remove their hats. Zakia, 29, obliged the guard but her stubborn sister told the officer she needed to see proof in writing as to why she could not sport her hat. Zakia, who says she became suddenly fueled by her sister’s strong spirit which was so reminiscent of their mom, decided to put her hat back on.
The security guard, who allegedly appeared combative toward the women, said, according to Zakia, “‘Since you don’t want to take your hat off, you can leave my mall.’ He stood there while we ate, and [he] threatened to call the cops.”
Zakia then went on to tell Philly.com that seven security guards descended upon them as they ate their meals. “I was very embarrassed,” she said. “My daughter was so scared; she was crying.”
According to the sisters, they were all escorted to the mall’s administrative office, where they were met by police who had been summoned by the security guards. Sister Makia also joined the women in the office soon after. According to Zakia, “The [police] officer said, ‘I find it offensive that you even have that hat that says ‘F— CANCER.’ It’s their mall, they want you out, you have to get out.’”
The women were escorted out to their vehicles to ensure that they would leave the property.
About the incident, Makia said, “I just wanted to tell them [the guards] the whole story. I wanted to tell them a monster came in to our house, got in to my mother, and we had to watch that until the day it took her, so don’t tell me it’s offensive to say, ‘F— CANCER,’” she told Philly.com.
Watch the Clark sisters discuss their experience
In 2004, Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer, and while she had one breast removed, she refused chemo and radiation therapy. She was fine for seven years, but then in 2011, the cancer returned. This time, Jackie gave in to chemo treatments, but a year later, the cancer spread to her brain, with doctors giving her three months to live. Instead of placing their mother in a hospice, the sisters decided to care for their mother themselves in her home.
Makia, who owned a salon, closed its doors and instead had customers come to her house so that she could be there for her mother at every given moment. Zakia and Tasha would relieve their sister when they got home from work, and the women cared for their mother in shifts, bathing, changing diapers, and feeding her just as she had done for them.
But soon the cancer spread all over their mother’s body.
Tiffany Wade, one of Makia’s clients and a nurse, actually came up with the “FU*K CANCER” clothing idea. She thought that the sale of the line could help the family offset the cost of related expenses. Wade told Philly.com, “When you watch your mother turn from a super-strong woman to a woman who can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t breathe, you get so frustrated,” Wade said. “You really feel like, ‘F— CANCER.’ That’s how you feel in your heart.”
After the Daily News heard about what happened to the sisters and began delving in to the situation, Les Morris, spokesman for Simon Property Group in Indianapolis, which owns King of Prussia Mall, called Zakia Wednesday to apologize for the incident. “Certainly this could have been handled in a much more empathic and sensitive manner,” Morris told the newspaper.
“We’re very sorry about her loss and wanted to apologize for the way her party was treated. It’s important for the mall to be flexible. I do think this is an entirely different situation than a 16-year-old kid with a swear word on his T-shirt cruising the mall,” he said. “We need to be empathic, sympathetic, and listen and make sure that we’re approaching each situation as it comes up.”
Meanwhile, the women have planned a rally on Friday at 7 p.m. at the mall’s entrance near Nordstrom. The event was originally supposed go be a protest for the women were treated but has now turned into an awareness rally against the dreaded disease.
The women buried their mom on Thursday morning and Makia laments, “I’m not mad at God. But the picture of my mother I was left with is beyond ‘F— CANCER.’”