The Other Breast Cancer Awareness Months
Technically October is officially dubbed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but why shouldn’t November be, too? Or December? Or January, February, April, or May?
Thirty-One Days of Pink
While many businesses and organizations use the month of October to draw public attention to the signs and symptoms of breast cancer through pink-hued athletic jerseys and cancer ribbon-shaped baked goods, pink merchandise is only one way to support the search for a cure.
All month-long, organizations are committed to raising awareness among the general public, from Breast Cancer Awareness games in the NFL, to 5Ks and other fitness events for survivors, friends, family, and the public. Shirts are made encouraging wearers to fight for the cure. And some imaging clinics and foundations even offer women free or low-cost mammograms in the month of October.
Awareness alone has made great strides in recent years, not to mention the innovations in breast cancer research that are ongoing, such as increased research into genetic testing, and the link between the BRCA1/2 gene mutation and women’s cancer. But breast cancer doesn’t only strike in the month of October. It’s easy to forget that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and many more are fighting battles of chemotherapy & radiation, surgery, & outside stigmas for much longer than the thirty-one days we shine the spotlight on the disease.
Raising Awareness Year-Round
So how do you support breast cancer research in months when pink cancer ribbon-shaped reminders aren’t widespread?
- Listen & support friends, neighbors, & loved ones with connections to breast cancer. Whether survivors themselves or having known someone diagnosed with breast cancer, men & women alike may have stories to share and questions to ask. Lending an ear is a powerful way to open up discussions about signs, symptoms, and hopes and fears.
- Volunteer your time. Money isn’t the only way to give back. Volunteer at your local hospital to make just a small difference in the lives of women living with breast cancer.
- Don’t forget to schedule routine breast cancer screenings. For women over 40, this means an annual mammogram. It’s not recommended for females under 40 with average risk of breast cancer to get mammograms, however they should still conduct self-exams and recommended clinical breast exams.
- Join a clinical trial. Survivors can participate in clinical trials that study long-term effects of breast cancer, quality of life of survivors, and more. The participation of breast cancer survivors is integral in improving women’s health and taking these survivors’ perspectives into account for future initiatives.
- Proudly show your pink in spring, summer, & winter! Wearing pink for breast cancer advocacy doesn’t have to end in October. Take a cue from Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back DeAngelo Williams, who dyed his hair pink in honor of his mother and aunts who battled breast cancer. Not everyone can offer to pay for mammograms for 53 women like Williams did in 2015, but his decision to sport pink hair has started conversations and raised awareness for women to get tested.
- Support Magee-Womens Research Institute in its research to improve women’s health. Magee’s researchers and scientists are working on projects ranging from the Prosigna test to assess a woman’s risk of cancer recurrence to the development of comprehensive treatment clinics. If you have strong ties to breast cancer awareness, funding research like this can help the scientific community discover new innovations to fight breast cancer for all women. Donate today.
A little step is all it takes to help spread awareness about breast cancer and the incredible innovations in research that are on the horizon.