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Ways to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Four women hugging and smiling

For years, a diagnosis of breast cancer was a virtual death sentence. From 1944-1954, MD Anderson Cancer Center’s survival rate for breast cancer was just 25%.

But thanks to research, new treatments and early detection, the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer that has not spread outside the breast is 99%. For cancer that has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the survival rate is 86%.

These statistics are encouraging, but like all types of cancer, there’s still work to be done to raise awareness, since:

  • Many people may not fully understand the risk factors and preventive measures for breast cancer.

  • Early detection can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment.

  • Regular screening can catch breast cancer at an early stage, often before symptoms even appear. Many health facilities offer low-cost or even free screening during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

  • Men can also develop breast cancer. Increased awareness can encourage them to pay attention to signs and symptoms, too.

  • Awareness often leads to increased funding from both private and public sources, enabling further research into prevention, diagnosis, treatment and a potential cure.

  • Awareness also helps promote mental health support and counseling services for those dealing with the emotional aspects of the disease.

  • Support and solidarity create strong networks for survivors, patients and families—reminding them that they’re not alone.

  • Public awareness and advocacy can lead to changes in legislation and healthcare policies, ensuring that more people have access to necessary screening and treatments.

  • Awareness activities often include tributes to survivors and those who have lost their lives to breast cancer as a way of honoring their journey and keeping their memories alive.

How you can help raise awareness

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to help spread the word and lower the numbers of the 240,000 women and 2,100 men in the United States who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Here are several ways.

As an individual:

  • Wear pink. The color pink symbolizes breast cancer awareness, so wearing pink clothing, accessories or even a pink ribbon or pin can help raise awareness.

  • Participate in charity runs or walks. Join or organize a charity run or walk to raise funds for breast cancer research or patient support.

  • Donate to research and support organizations. Consider donating to reputable breast cancer organizations that fund research or support patients and families.

  • Educate yourself and others. Learn about breast cancer, its symptoms and the importance of early detection. Share this information with friends and family.

  • Share stories and support others. If you know survivors or someone currently battling breast cancer, offer support and encourage them to share their stories.

  • Encourage screenings. Encourage those in your life to speak with their healthcare provider about appropriate breast cancer screening.

If you’re a business owner:

  • Consider selling special pink merchandise with a portion of the proceeds going to breast cancer research or support.

  • Give away promotional pink items to help raise awareness.

  • Host fundraising events like a bake sale, car wash or charity auction and donate the proceeds to breast cancer organizations.

  • Promote awareness internally by sharing information with employees, offering resources or even providing opportunities for screening if possible.

  • Take it to social by sharing facts, community events or resources on your business’s social media streams. If you and your team participate in a breast cancer charity event, share photos and stories of the event.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment, support ongoing research efforts and honor not only survivors but the memories of those we’ve lost to this disease. It’s a collective effort that can lead to saving lives and improving the quality of life for those living with breast cancer, and every effort—big or small—can make a world of difference to those who must still fight the battle of their lives.