October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time when women are encouraged to get checked out as well as show our support for the cause in various ways. This international campaign has been running for 33 years and has inspired thousands of sponsors, millions of advocates, and increased funding that continues to search for treatments and cures.
Breast cancer support is an area for which I am an advocate, as it’s one condition that has changed my attitude towards health. My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2012, and I can still remember vividly when she cried in front of me after she found out about her diagnosis. She had her left breast removed and eventually became bald as her chemotherapy sessions progressed. Thankfully, she has survived treatment, and is now in remission and taking maintenance drugs.
Having breast cancer (or any other serious medical condition) takes a toll not only on someone’s physical health but also on their mental well-being. I’ve seen mom and other breast cancer patients deal with the pain of undergoing treatment, and saw how they looked very isolated and felt emotional and guilty. It takes all of their energies to stay strong at these trying times, but they shouldn’t be alone because there are ways that we can show our love to them.
– Show them that we actually listen to them. I know that saying “Be strong” and “We’re here for you” encourages breast cancer patients to be strong and fight off this condition. Being there when they cry or share their stories gives them reassurance that they’re not alone in this battle.
– Help them with daily chores. And when you reach out, don’t put the burden on them of deciding what kind of help you can offer. Don’t say “What can I do?”, say “let me do this washing up for you.” Simple tasks like going with them on a supermarket run, or walking their pets, or driving their kids to school are enough to relieve mental pressure.
– Focusing on awareness is good, but driving patient support is better. It’s true that there are countless ways to remind women to undergo breast screening. However, many breast cancer patients, especially those who are underprivileged or in rural communities, need support. There are charities that focus on patient support, including screenings and treatment. But help doesn’t necessarily have to be money; you can donate wigs, hats, scarves, or clothes to breast cancer foundations, or volunteer and organize yoga or mindfulness classes for patients.
– Donate to research initiatives. Breast cancer is the most common cancer type in women worldwide. But according to Healthline.com, “most of the charitable money goes to basic research that has little clinical application.” Centers like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation are doing research in hopes of finding a cure and improving care for patients.
– Wear pink this month! Pink ribbons or clothing expresses your moral support for women with breast cancer. It’s a small thing but it definitely makes a difference. But also, remember to “Think Before You Pink” — there will be a lot of marketing gimmicks or so-called causes that identify with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but do not really support the cause of breast cancer research or patient support.
Photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán via Pexels