October is already upon us, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month has arrived. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. There’s a 1 in 8 chance a woman in the United States will develop breast cancer sometime in her life and the American Cancer Society estimated that about 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2019.
Though the statistics about breast cancer can be scary, they have also gotten better over time. The number of deaths from breast cancer dropped 40% from 1989 to 2016, possibly from detecting it early, as well as improved treatments. But in October, we are called to raise awareness and to draw attention to this disease that — if caught early — doesn’t have to be deadly.
BUT WHERE DID BREAST CANCER MONTH START?
Because breast cancer is so common, efforts to educate Americans have become more and more popular. The first organized effort to spread awareness of breast cancer was a week-long event in October of 1985.
As the incidence rate increased over the years, international interest did too, sparking more breast cancer awareness campaigns and events through the 1990s. The ubiquitous pink ribbon that symbolizes breast cancer awareness today became popular in the early 1990s. This was largely due to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which handed out pink ribbons to every participant in its Race for the Cure event in New York City.
Companies like Estee Lauder and Ralph Lauren took notice, lending their support to the cause. Today, companies from New Balance to GlassesUSA to Ulta show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by creating special products or running their own campaigns.
While shopping for a cause is sometimes great, there are a lot of ways to give back and raise awareness (and money) that may have more of an impact on the women affected by breast cancer.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
There are countless community walks, runs, or special events that are put on to raise both awareness and funds to end breast cancer. And there are plenty of smaller nonprofits that can benefit from your support, too. Get inspired by the following organizations in our list below:
- Join a local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event hosted by American Cancer Society
- Start your own Helping Women Now fundraiser by National Breast Cancer Foundation
- Find a local Sisters Network chapter to increase awareness of breast cancer in the African-American community
- Support a Barbells for Boobs program, a nonprofit that works to educate others on the benefits of fitness and early detection.
- Participate in a virtual Kickin’ Cancer walk/run fundraiser with the Lynne Cohen Foundation
You can also support breast cancer awareness easily by finding a local nonprofit in your community, or a larger nonprofit with local events or branches nearby.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE
If you’ve been directly affected by cancer yourself, consider becoming a cancer advocate. A cancer advocate bridges the gap between research and cancer patients, as well as their families and caregivers. As an advocate, you might also choose to participate in clinical trials (or support those who do), as these studies are vital to cancer research. You may also work to change public policy, raise money for research, or spread awareness through an advocacy group.
Advocates also support people currently living with cancer, either by hosting or attending support groups, and even driving patients to and from their appointments, A big part of being a cancer advocate is helping someone with cancer adjust to their situation. You may offer to talk to someone with a similar diagnosis, help someone figure out what questions they should ask their care providers, or simply listen to someone’s concerns.
SUPPORT A NONPROFIT WITH THOUGHTFUL PURCHASES
If you’re looking for a way to support breast cancer research but you’re strapped for time, find out if one of your favorite brands has special products created for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Or discover a new one!
Companies typically host new campaigns every year, but take a look at these past campaigns from some of your favorite brands if you need a little inspiration.
- Clothing brand Aerie has worked with nonprofit Bright Pink for over 9 years. Bright Pink works towards prevention and early detection of breast cancer in young women.
- The NFL Shop has a special line of Breast Cancer Awareness products, and 100% of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
- The Bouqs Company offers a special Pink Collection of flowers. With each purchase of a Pink Collection bouquet, 20% of the purchase price is donated to The Pink Agenda.
- S’well supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or BCRF. With every purchase of a special pink S’well bottle, 20% of the retail price is donated to BCRF.
MAKE SURE YOUR MONEY IS GOING TO THE CAUSE
It’s easy to assume that you’re helping the breast cancer awareness effort if a company flaunts pink products or the famous pink ribbon. However, it’s important to check the fine print. How much is the company donating to the nonprofit? Is there a maximum amount that the company will donate? What is the company’s overall mission and beliefs and do they align with health or breast cancer awareness? Take a few minutes to do your homework so you know your money is supporting a breast cancer cause.
It’s easy to assume that you’re helping the breast cancer awareness effort if a company flaunts pink products or the famous pink ribbon. However, it’s important to check the fine print.
FIND YOUR CAUSE WITH NOBLEHOUR
When we think of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, large organizations like the American Cancer Society, Stand Up to Cancer, or NBCF come to mind. While these organizations do great work, there are plenty of smaller nonprofits out there, too. Use NobleHour to connect to those organizations who are giving back to your local community and to the women affected by breast cancer who live in your neighborhood.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the volunteer management solution for organizations across the nation. Our plug ‘n play software connects companies, schools and individuals with nonprofits. Volunteer, measure the good you’re doing, and share it with others. It’s that simple.
With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the we are dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Special Contributor:
Latasha Doyle is a writer and long term care volunteer living outside of Denver, Colorado. When she’s not writing or volunteering, she enjoys crocheting, Netflix marathons, and planning her next trip.