For all the red, yellow, and gold of fall, the season’s true color is pink. As it has for almost four decades, October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month — and the annual campaign, aimed at raising awareness and research funds, is as urgent as ever. Consider that one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. Or that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 42,000 women and 500 men die from breast cancer in the U.S. every year — with a staggering 240,000 cases in women and 2,100 in men diagnosed annually.
All of which makes the month of October not only a time to reflect, but to take action. So in this fight we all share, let’s consider how you can sustainably show your support while also celebrating survivors and remembering those we have lost.
Why Breast Cancer Awareness Month Matters
Founded in 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is organized by major cancer charities, including the American Cancer Society, to promote early detection, support patients and survivors, and raise monies for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, a cure. Overall, the campaign seeks to:
- Educate and raise awareness: By spotlighting the realities of breast cancer, the campaign aims to educate individuals about the risks, symptoms, and the importance of early detection through regular screenings.
- Fundraise for research and support programs: Charity is a vital part of the mission. Donations made during this month often go towards funding research initiatives, as well as supporting programs that aid patients and their families coping with the disease.
- Provide support for patients: Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a platform to offer emotional, financial, and practical support to individuals and families impacted by breast cancer.
- Advocate for policy changes: The campaign also works to influence policy changes to improve access to quality healthcare, screening programs, and treatment options for breast cancer patients. Prevention and early detection are critical!
How to Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
From what to wear to seeking out sustainable brands that support the campaign, here are some of the ways you can participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.
Wear pink with purpose
Wearing pink — whether pink clothes or simply a signature ribbon — is the traditional way to show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, you can still be conscious of what brands you purchase from. Seek out clothing brands which prioritize ethical production practices and use eco-conscious materials. Consider thrift shopping or organizing “pink” clothing swaps to reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe choices for this month. You can even make your own DIY pink ribbons with organic or used fabrics or show your support with seed paper pink ribbons.
Participate in sustainable fundraising activities
Engage in fundraising efforts to support breast cancer research and related programs. Organize or join events like charity walks, runs, or cycling events while raising funds for a worthy cause. To make your fundraiser eco-friendly, ensure that these events prioritize sustainability by using reusable water bottles and having a filling station. You should also aim to provide recycling stations and minimize single-use plastics throughout the fundraiser.
Educate and advocate
Spread awareness about breast cancer by sharing accurate information and resources. Utilize digital platforms, email newsletters, and social media to disseminate information about available support networks. Make your content uplifting and relatable to help best spread the word.
Support sustainable brands and products
Many companies offer special products during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a portion of the proceeds going towards breast cancer research and support organizations. While it’s great to support brands that give back, look for ones that also prioritize sustainability in their production processes and materials.
Choosing a well-rounded company that aims to make a positive impact on the planet is one of the best ways to show your support during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Beyond just choosing the right company to buy from, consider what you purchase as well. Purchasing products made from eco-friendly and ethically sourced materials and choosing items that have a long lifespan can help minimize waste. Let’s keep as many cheaply-made pink products out of landfills and bins after the month ends.
Support local and sustainable health initiatives
Partner or volunteer alongside local healthcare providers, clinics, or organizations that offer breast cancer screenings, education, and support services. If you want to add an eco-conscious touch, advocate for sustainable healthcare practices, such as digital record-keeping to reduce paper waste and encourage providers to implement environmentally friendly initiatives in their facilities.
Encourage early detection
Early detection is critical to increasing survival rates — and as awareness and detection have improved over the past decades, death rates have fallen. So, if you’ve been putting off a screening — or know someone who has — consider October a wake-up call. A mammogram can detect breast cancer in its formative stages, but doctors also suggest women perform monthly self-exams. Early signs that something may be wrong include pain or lumps in the breast or surrounding area. You can also share information about screening resources in your area.
Engage in sustainable acts of kindness
Show your support for breast cancer patients and survivors by engaging in acts of kindness. If you know someone fighting breast cancer, offer to prepare meals, provide transportation to and from appointments, or assist with household tasks.
Promote personal well-being through nature
Encourage breast cancer patients, survivors, and supporters to connect with nature as a means of promoting healing and well-being. Set up outdoor activities like nature walks, hikes, or meditation sessions in natural settings.
Wear pink proudly this October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides an opportunity to unite in the fight against this devastating disease. By participating in the campaign — whether it’s by running in a race or simply educating others — you can make a positive impact and help bring us closer to a world without breast cancer.