This being October, it’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since its inception, the aim of the international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities has been to boost awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. I think it’s important to educate women and their families about how crucial screenings, self-exams and tests are. But just as much, I want everyone to understand that the disease affects real people — real friends, people we love in our families and often ourselves.
When we think about those real people, it’s easy to understand the disease as not just as “another cause,” but as something that we need to personally roll up our sleeves and do something about. And as someone who has dealt with the disease personally, as well as seeing close family and friends battle it, I can promise you it’s not an easy fight. But the more we know about it, the better chance we have. So here are a few ways to do that:
Self-checks: A lot of the time, this is the first line of defense for many women. You know your own body better than anyone, and checking yourself out for anything unusual is the best way to do it in between doctor appointments. It takes just minutes to get it done, seriously. For the best and easiest instructions on how, go to nationalbreastcancer. org
Regular mammograms: According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, “Overall, mammography is the most effective screening tool used today to find breast cancer in most women. However, the benefits of mammography vary by age.” Make sure you’re getting checked up in the smartest way possible by checking out their guidelines at ww5.komen.org.
Look out for “pinkwashing”: An awful lot of for-profit companies that claim to be all about giving money to breast cancer organizations actually use that promise as a way to get you to buy their product(s), but then in the end, give almost none of their profits to help the cause. Before you buy, check the fine print to see the actual percentage of what they donate. If it’s just a teensy amount, go with another product and spend your money on something that legitimately invests in and believes in stopping the disease.
Support innovative organizations: Thankfully, there are so, so many organizations now that research potential cures and treatments. But I’m very partial to one that’s currently looking for the cause — with scientists making breakthroughs in looking into the environmental factors around us everyday. Check out Find the Cause Breast Cancer Foundation at findthecause bcf.org. I believe we need to keep our minds open in the search to end this disease for all women—not just this month, but all year long, and until we get it done.