With over 334,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States each year, it seems as if everyone knows someone affected by this disease. Throughout October, internationally recognized as breast cancer awareness month, millions of people get involved with bringing awareness to this disease. Getting involved may seem overwhelming but showing support for breast cancer patients and survivors is actually easier than one may think.
1. Wear pink
The pink ribbon is an international symbol for breast cancer. Wearing a pink ribbon, or a pink outfit, is a simple way to express moral support for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Showing support all of the time is great, but there is a national initiative to wear pink for breast cancer on the 18th of October. Get a pink outfit ready and encourage friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors to do the same!
2. Listen to cancer patients
Remember that when you speak to a cancer patient, they don’t necessarily feel like warriors or survivors; they don’t always want (or need) to have a positive attitude. And nothing they did, from eating sugar to consuming processed foods, caused their cancer. When somebody trusts you enough to tell you they have cancer, don’t respond by telling them they’re a warrior, or insinuate they did something wrong. Just tell them you are sorry this happened to them, and you are here to listen.
It’s important that you speak to them as the friends, colleagues, or loved ones they’ve always been. Cancer can be isolating, but you can be a reassuring figure who reminds them they don’t always have to pretend to be brave.
3. Educate yourself (and others)
Anyone can be affected by cancer. In fact, the majority of patients never expected to receive a cancer diagnosis until it happened. Knowing one’s risks of developing cancer can aid in early detection, which makes the cancer easier to treat. Spread awareness by telling friends and family who should be getting mammograms, who is at risk, and how to check breasts for abnormalities. The more educated society is, the greater defense there is against cancer.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women worldwide
- 1 in 8 women receive a breast cancer diagnosis
- On average, every 2 minutes a female is diagnosed with breast cancer
- 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes
- Alcohol use increases the risk of breast cancer
- Over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. today
- An estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer
- 1 in 1,000 men will receive a breast cancer diagnosis
- Breast cancer occurrence and death rates generally increase with age
- Only 5-10% of individuals diagnosed have a family history of breast cancer
4. Volunteer For an Organization You Support.
A lot of the awareness efforts and events this month wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of volunteers willing to donate their time. Find an organization you believe in and give some time to volunteer and help carry their cause forward. (Swim Across America (SAA))
Every little bit counts! You can take heart knowing that you make an impact no matter how much or how little time you give.
5. Help a cancer patient
Sometimes asking for help can be hard. For those who know someone battling breast cancer, find a way to make their life easier without them asking. Whether it is offering to walk their dog, drive them to their doctor’s appointment, or preparing frozen meals, simple acts can make a huge difference.
Also, many chemo wards even take donations of clothing, scarves, and hats for patients. Reach out to local organizations to see what good or services would benefit the community.
6. Donate clothes to a chemo center
Did you know you can make a difference in a cancer patient’s life without even ever speaking to them? In every town, there are community oncologists who will accept donations of blankets, hats, or scarves. Due to privacy issues, you may not be able to actually talk to them, but you can talk to the staff at the front desk and ask if they are willing to accept items. You can also donate clothing and other goods to the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop where the items are resold to help fight against cancer.