October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The color pink shows up everywhere. Everyone has a pink ribbon displayed somewhere. So, yes, the pink reminders increase "awareness." The truth is, thanks to years of campaigning and education, most Americans are already aware of breast cancer. Unfortunately, early detection and awareness is not the cure-all we once thought it was back when the pink ribbon was invented. Many women who catch this disease in its early stage and get treatment, still go on to have an advanced relapse - and that's what kills. Displaying pink ribbons isn't enough. We need to focus our efforts on helping people who have advanced breast cancer.
What can we do?
GIVE REAL SUPPORT
Donate to a charity that focuses on patient support, not cancer awareness. Women battling cancer need personal support, such as makeup classes, gas cards, wigs, exercise classes, letters and even full payment of treatment.
DONATE TO RESEARCH INITIATIVES
Research is a critical need. Globally, metastatic breast cancer receives much less funding than early-stage breast cancer. It's important to donate to a charity that is trying to get an actual cure to patients and not just driving campaigns for "awareness."
HELP SOMEONE YOU KNOW WHO HAS CANCER
Walk their dogs, help clean their house, pickup groceries, make a few meals, text them on a regular basis "What can I do for you today?"
DONATE CLOTHES TO A CHEMO CENTER
Community oncologists accept donations of blankets, hats and scarves. Imagine the comfort these items can give a patient going through treatment.
DRIVE PEOPLE TO CHEMO SESSIONS
There are many patients getting chemo who have nobody to drive them . You can leave flyers offering to do so, or post on community bulletin boards that you are willing to help. Call a social worker to find out where the need is greatest.
LISTEN TO CANCER PATIENTS
Remember that when you speak to a cancer patient, they don't necessarily feel like warriors or survivors; they don't always want (or need) to have a positive attitude. But you can help lift their spirits by teling them that you are sorry this happened to them, and that you are there to listen. Be that great friend that they need.