Think Pink During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
If you couldn’t guess by the abundance of pink ribbons making their appearance in a month dominated by fall colors and Halloween themes, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! It’s a time for women to think seriously about breast cancer—whether they’re screening for it proactively, battling it currently or thriving after surviving it.
This is a month that revolves around the word “awareness,” but what exactly does that mean? Everyone is surely aware of what breast cancer is and who it affects. What more awareness do we need?
In fact, awareness isn’t about simply being aware of breast cancer—it’s about reminding every woman of the importance in keeping up on self-checks and screenings. Breast cancer may be widespread—affecting 1 in every 8 women—but early detection makes it one of the most treatable cancers and a health issue that many women fight to overcome each year.
Awareness is also about supporting survivors: women who have battled hard and beat their disease. The pink ribbon isn’t just a badge of support for many—it’s a mark of perseverance.
Take Preventive Action
This October, don’t just wear pink to work or make a charitable donation. Use this month as an opportunity to make sure you and the women you love are taking steps to detect and prevent breast cancer. Here’s what every woman should be doing:
- Self-checks are the first line of defense and should be routine for every woman. They take only seconds and finding a lump early can push you to make a doctor’s appointment that you might not have otherwise.
- Mammogram screenings should be routine for women over 40. Use October as your reminder to schedule one each year and consult with your doctor about any abnormalities, to make sure you’re staying on top of your health.
- Know your family history to see if you’re predisposed to breast cancer and work with your doctor for more rigorous testing if you are. Some hereditary conditions require more frequent testing and monitoring to catch cancer early.
In addition to doing each of these things yourself, make sure you’re being an advocate for the women you love. Friends and family are less likely to skip these crucial screening items if they have someone reminding them and following up to make sure they’re healthy.
Walk, Run or Volunteer this October
Want to do more? October is filled with opportunities to support and encourage women fighting breast cancer. One of the easiest things you can do is strap on your sneakers and join a run/walk for breast cancer. Many of these events donate a portion of their proceeds directly to reputable charities and, because anyone can join, they tend to have tremendous turnouts that result in impressive donations.
Not in the running mood? Volunteerism is another great option if you’re looking to show your support. Women’s shelters are a great place to start and many nonprofits see an influx of women coming to them in October, as the seasons start to change. Volunteering your time can help these organizations give less fortunate women the care they need—including early detection screenings. Other great volunteer options include community events or benefits that specifically honor breast cancer survivors.
Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence
Thousands of women who get tested this October will find themselves facing difficult news. It could be a lump that needs to be biopsied or a clearer indication of breast cancer. In these moments, it’s important to remember that breast cancer is very treatable when caught early. This is why self-checks and early mammogram screenings are so critical.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Stage 1 breast cancer detected through proactive screening methods is very treatable and survivable—in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%. Even in later stages, many forms of the cancer can be aggressively treated. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is still as high as 85%.
If you or someone you know is diagnosed with breast cancer this October as the result of screening, don’t look at it as a death sentence because often, it’s not. Instead, it’s a chance to get ahead of this disease and best it, so you can emerge a stronger, healthier version of yourself on the other side.