October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and your participation (even if it’s just spreading awareness by sharing an educational article like this one) can and will make a difference. According to the World Health Organization, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 alone. At the end of the same year, there were 685,000 deaths globally from breast cancer. Today, 7.8 million women worldwide who were diagnosed in the past 5 years, are still fighting for their lives. These chilling statistics confirm that breast cancer is a threat for women at any age after puberty. Breast cancer is most commonly found in women, but men can get breast cancer, too.
Millions of people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and the diagnosis affects not only the patient but their loved ones as well.
For this reason, breast cancer survivors, patients, their loved ones, health care practitioners, and other concerned individuals come together every October to spread awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a global movement that takes place each October. It is an impactful, annual campaign to increase awareness about breast cancer. If you want to be part of this meaningful movement, you can do it no matter where you are. You can spread awareness online from where you are right now. Or, consider researching local events in your area where you can actively participate and make a difference in this year’s breast cancer awareness programs.
Contributing Your Efforts During Breast Cancer Awareness Month
If you want to raise awareness for breast cancer, you can do something as simple as wearing a pink ribbon and sharing educational articles on your social media. The pink ribbon is the universal symbol of support for those facing breast cancer. You can pin one to your outfit for the whole month and use it as a conversation starter with people in your community. Also, use it as a conversation starter to provide more information about breast cancer to those who are curious to learn more.
Unlike other infection-related cancers, such as the HPV (human papillomavirus) infection and cervical cancer, breast cancer is non-infectious or transmissible. It is important to make others aware that some women who develop breast cancer have no risk factors other than their gender and age (higher risk is typically over 40 years old). Other risk factors for developing breast cancer may also include:
- Genetics (family history)
- Alcohol and drug use
- Radiation exposure
- Hormone therapy
Benefits of Spreading Awareness
When everyone is made aware of the risks through movements such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they can stay proactive and take preventative health measures. This includes eating a balanced diet, living a healthy lifestyle, and performing monthly breast self-examinations to check for lumps or breast abnormalities.
Conversations and online awareness also inspire women to take further preventive measures such as scheduling mammograms and getting immediately screened when they spot early signs of the disease.
One of the reasons why Breast Cancer Awareness Month and spreading knowledge is so important is because when detected early, breast cancer can be treated more effectively and survival rates can be quite high. Early detection can make all the difference when it comes to breast cancer survival.
Support Local and Virtual Breast Cancer Awareness Events
Whether you’re a survivor, patient, or a concerned loved one, there are opportunities for you to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month no matter where you reside. The advent of the internet allows you to bridge time and distance. Besides, with the restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, there are many virtual and real-life events happening this October, all over the world. Take a look at the following examples below:
Canada’s Run for the Cure: You can register online to join the October 3 event. There are 57 running sites across the nation. You can run in your neighbourhood solo if you want to socially distance yourself and just keep track of other participants’ progress through the online platform or mobile app.
Ireland’s The Great Pink Virtual Run: On October 16 and 17, Breast Cancer Ireland is doing this online fundraising activity. You can run, jog, or walk from anywhere in the world. Encourage your family and friends to make pledges and document your journey on social media using #mygreatpinkrun hashtag.
Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation’s Pink Together 2021: Pink Together 2021, a virtual charity event hosted by the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation (HKBCF), raises public awareness of breast cancer and raises vital funds for the HKBCF services.
Bangladesh’s Pink October Walk-a-Thon: This is a live event on October 10 with the primary purpose of raising funds for research and treatment. Wear pink to beat breast cancer. Advance registration is required because participants are limited due to Covid-19.
The UK’s Now Wear it Pink Day: This is one of the biggest fundraising events in the UK. Taking place on 23 October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of supportive participants will “wear it pink” in their communities, schools or workplaces for the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now. To participate, all you have to do is register, and organize for everyone at your workplace or school to wear pink on October 23rd, with the goal of raising money for breast cancer research. In your community, you could organise a special “wear it pink” party to bring people together and raise vital funds for the UK’s Breast Cancer Now program.
UAE’s Pink Cooking Challenge: Dr. Rajul Matkar in UAE is holding a 6th annual cooking event. This time, it goes online because of the pandemic. On October 16, catch the event on Facebook Live. Check here for more details.
South Africa’s Playing for Pink: This is an annual ladies invitation polo event founded by Reach for Recovery in 2015 to raise awareness of the disease. Purchase tickets and join the fight against breast cancer on October 30. Enjoy polo, food, bubbly, and entertainment at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg.
CDO’s Laughter Yoga: The CDO Chapter of Thrive Philippines, a cancer support and awareness group, is hosting a virtual yoga session on October 2. Everyone is welcome to join the Zoom meeting. Relax and unwind with survivors, patients, and their loved ones.
Spread Awareness by Sharing Your Story on Social Media
You can honour someone close to you by sharing their breast cancer story (with their consent) on your social media page. If you yourself are a breast cancer survivor, you can also inspire others by recounting your own journey to recovery.
Real stories make an impact because they resonate, hit emotional triggers, and touch people’s hearts. Thus, your words can serve as a beacon of hope to show that people can fight this disease with grace, hope, and a positive attitude.
The sad reality is that many people are terrified to face their breast cancer diagnosis. Some people are even afraid to do breast self-exams, thinking ignorance is bliss. However, when people see the real faces of survivors through online awareness, they feel an emotional connection. Your unique story can motivate someone to be more courageous in doing screenings or checking themselves for lumps. Awareness can also encourage someone who is struggling with treatment to never give up. As you share your story on social media, don’t forget to use the hashtags to expand your reach and convey your message effectively:
Make an Effort to Donate Directly or Through Purchasing Merchandise
Many companies and small businesses support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From selling pink face masks to kitschy t-shirts, you can find many items online this entire October. These companies will often advertise that they’re donating a portion of sales for breast cancer research. Even brick-and-mortar stores may offer promotions. Just lookout for the iconic pink ribbon to see what promotions they have aligned with this movement.
If you want to take a peek at a one-stop-shop, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has an online store selling great brands and products, like Clinique pink moisturizer bottles, Estee Lauder pink ribbon brooches, pink stand mixers, Movado Rose Gold Watches, and more – all year long. This nonprofit organization is on a mission to end breast cancer. Proceeds of all your purchases will fund worldwide cancer research to advance studies on prevention, genetics, and treatment.
Alternatively, you can also directly donate funds to your local breast cancer foundation or charity. One of the most popular organizations is Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure. They accept monetary donations for doing extensive breast cancer research, helping with community health, conducting global outreach, and advocating for public policy initiatives.
Get Inspired and Do Your Part by Getting Screened
Unfortunately, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women worldwide. You therefore must stay vigilant in checking yourself. Make it a commitment to perform monthly breast exams because early detection can save your life. And if you are at an age where you can get a mammogram, do it annually. The good news is health clinics around the world offer free or lower-cost screenings for the whole month of October.
Taking a proactive approach to your breast health is the best takeaway that you can get from participating in 2021’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities. If your mother, aunt, grandmother, or any other relative has had breast cancer, this family history strongly indicates that you can inherit the disease. A DNA test from CircleDNA can inform you of your genetic risk for developing breast cancer.
A comprehensive DNA test like this one will reveal mutations in your genes that increase your risk of getting breast cancer. With this knowledge, you can make lifestyle changes (like eating more antioxidant-rich foods), stay more vigilant in performing breast self-exams, and speak to your doctor about conducting regular breast screenings to nip any early signs of breast cancer in the bud. Here’s to Breast Cancer Awareness Month inspiring you to get yourself checked, spread awareness to others, distribute educational resources, raise funds and start conversations.