Don’t just think pink. Talk, walk, run, donate, or volunteer — October, which marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a time to act. The statistics are grim. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women globally — and only lung cancer claims more lives. In the U.S., 42,000 women and men die from it annually (although 100 women will develop the disease for every man).
In 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month began to educate and encourage women to have mammograms. As with all cancers, early detection is key to survival. And it’s worked. For three decades, death rates have declined as detection and treatment have improved. But the struggle is far from won.
At SaltyLama, we believe in making a positive impact, so we want to highlight some ways you can participate this month. After all, with estimates suggesting one in eight women will develop the disease during their lifetime, everyone will likely be affected at some point — or know someone who is. It’s a fight we all share — and one we can all join in.
Get a checkup — and encourage others to do so
Early detection arrests breast cancer. So, if you’ve been putting off regular exams — or know someone who has — consider October a call to action. A mammogram can detect breast cancer in its formative stages, but it’s not the only early defense against the worst consequences of the disease. Generally, doctors suggest women perform self-exams every month. Early symptoms of something wrong include pain, skin irritation, and lumps in the breast or surrounding area.
Start a conversation
Breast Cancer Awareness Month exists to educate the public and save lives. So, reach out and spread the word. Women should especially be aware of how at-risk they are, depending on various factors. For example, two-thirds of women diagnosed are over the age of 55. Similarly, family history plays a role.
Put one foot in front of the other
Organizing a walk or run event — or simply participating by lacing up in one — is the most common way to raise money for a breast cancer charity, whether it’s to support survivors or help fund research toward treatment options. You can be confident there is a race somewhere near you. All you need to do is show up.
Embark on some DIY fundraising
If you want to support a breast cancer charity on your own, there are many ways to do so that don’t involve physical exertion — from organizing a car wash to having a yard sale. But if you are in the mood for exercise — without joining an already-scheduled event — set a goal for yourself and raise pledges by approaching family and friends to support your swim, run, hike, or bike ride.
Get involved at work
Breast cancer doesn’t care what your office hours are — and neither should you. Aside from simply encouraging colleagues to wear pink, employers can also take it up a notch. Stage a so-called “pink” event such as a pink fashion show. Offer preventive screenings at the office. Or grant time off for employees to get screened. Remember, Breast Cancer Awareness Month also represents a chance for colleagues to bond over something other than business after two isolated years of pandemic-induced remote work.
Evaluate your lifestyle
You can’t cure it, so why risk it? And most studies are clear: your lifestyle directly correlates to your chance of being stricken with cancer. Red flags? Being overweight. Smoking. Drinking excessively. Eating too many saturated fats and too few greens. Staying sedentary. Whether you or someone you love needs to improve their life choices, there is no better time to course correct.
Don a pink ribbon every day
Pink ribbons have come to symbolize the fight against breast cancer. Why not pass out some to family, friends, and co-workers? Wearing one could initiate a discussion, making someone decide to schedule that overdue screening. And if a ribbon isn’t your style, stick to pink. Whether it’s your clothes or hair, there is no such thing as too much pink in October.
Help patients undergoing chemotherapy
Cancer treatment is a grueling process — regardless of its outcome — and anyone undergoing it needs help, especially the longer it lasts. If you know someone fighting the disease, offer to take them to chemo. If you don’t know anyone, why not contact a local organization to see if you can volunteer to make a stranger’s life a little easier? Likewise, you can offer to help with such everyday chores as cleaning around the house and shopping for groceries.
Donate money or time to a treatment center
While much of the focus during Breast Cancer Awareness Month is on research and treatment, don’t forget there are women currently battling for their lives at a medical facility near you. Think about how you can help, whether by raising contributions or donating meals and clothing — such as scarves and hats — to the patients. You can also volunteer your time to underscore how much you recognize and value their courage.
Assemble your digital community
Ribbons and races aside, whether it’s a social media post or a Zoom call with family, there are countless ways to engage people you know. The most effective weapon against breast cancer is knowledge. And the more everyone talks about it, the more lives can be saved. It could even be the life of someone you love.