How to Raise Breast Cancer Awareness All Year

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just about over, and this October seemed quite subdued compared to other years, when pink ribbons adorned everything from shampoo to dog leashes. Perhaps it was the lead-up to the Presidential election; the nasty politics that accompany the every-four-years grab for power are endlessly fascinating. Or maybe, with words like “financial nightmare” and “Wall Street meltdown” ringing in our ears nightly, we just couldn’t shake off a fearful paralysis enough to “think pink.”

    But a lowered level of enthusiasm from marketers doesn’t mean we can’t continue to raise awareness on our own. Use the following suggestions to keep the world thinking pink all year long.

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    1) Remind every woman you know over age 40 to get a mammogram. It’s astonishing the number of friends I have who simply shrug off what should be a yearly ritual. “Yeah, I know, I missed my appointment… didn’t reschedule… had the flu… couldn’t miss a meeting…” Gentle (or not so gentle) prodding is in order here.

    2) Decide to participate in one cancer fund-raising activity this year. Relay for Life. The 3-Day. The Avon. Your local hospital’s 5K jog. More than one is OK, too. Get out there and sweat for the cure.

    3) And, you know how you collect a T-shirt every time you participate in a fundraiser? Don’t stick it in a drawer; wear it with pride! They say that every marketing message needs to be delivered seven times before the recipient truly hears it. See if you can wear your T-shirt at work (casual Friday?) or around town at least seven times in the next year.

    4) When you get that email that tells you to “click on this link to earn a free mammogram for a woman in financial need,” don’t delete it. DO it, then forward to your friends. Maybe every single one will delete it, but at least you did your part.

    5) Be informed. Breast cancer can come up in conversation anytime when women gather, particularly when the women are in their 50s and older. Know enough to be the voice of reason. Yes, breast cancer is more common as you get older. No, going through menopause doesn’t lessen your risk. Oh, you want to know your risk? It’s about 1 in 50 when you’re 50, 1 in 26 when you’re 60… This site has all kinds of good, hard facts about breast cancer. Take the time to become acquainted with them.

    6) Put a bumper sticker on your car. See 3) above; same thing, only a bumper sticker gets a lot more views. Just Google “breast cancer bumper stickers”—you’ll find a wide range of choices out there.

    7) Wear your pink accessories. I’m betting someone, somewhere along the way has given you a pink-ribbon pin. Or one of those pink latex wrist bands, or the flexible pink Komen rings. Don’t  be embarrassed; far from being a walking cliché, you’re jogging people’s minds every time they see you.

    8) Say yes to other people’s favorite causes, so that when the time comes, they’ll say yes to yours. For every $3.50 box of cookies you buy from the Girl Scout next door, expect a donation to your breast cancer fundraiser from her mom in return. One hand does indeed wash the other.

  • 9) Let people know you’re a survivor. And let them know there are 2 million other survivors out there across the land. Let them see that breast cancer isn’t the “don’t ask, don’t tell” disease it used to be, pre-Betty Ford. Boldly shining a light on breast cancer might feel uncomfortable, but it’s the best way to keep it front of mind—and keep those funding dollars coming.

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    10) Finally, stay connected on this site, and post, post post! Not only is it wonderful to share with your sisters, and perhaps give someone an emotional boost; every post is another opportunity for Google to recognize this site as the top breast cancer resource it is. And every woman who visits this site—scared of a lump, newly diagnosed, caring for a mother or sister or daughter—increases her awareness, and that of her family, friends, and colleagues. Ever heard of viral marketing? This site is a great example. Keep the world thinking pink—all year round.

Published On: October 30, 2008