During Breast Cancer Awareness Month (actually all year long now) it sometimes seems as if there is a tug-of-war going on between the I can’t get enough of pink/pink ribbons side and the let’s unravel the ribbons and throw ’em (and pink) all out side.
Does this tug-of-war leave you feeling confused?
Do you sometimes wonder how you can or should show your support?
Do you sometimes wonder if it’s okay to buy something wrapped in pink or covered with pink ribbons?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
To grab a copy of my FREE ebook, Pink Is Just a Color, Ribbons Are Just Ribbons: A collection of writings about Pinktober shenanigans, Click Here.
So, what CAN a person do not only during October, but all year long to support educated awareness?
No matter how you feel about pink or pink ribbons, here are 12 things you can do all year long to help support educated awareness:
1. First and foremost, Think Before You Pink because thinking is always good!
Breast Cancer Action® came up with this savvy slogan/campaign a few years back. Click on the link to learn some excellent and easy-to-remember (excellent and easy – two of my favorite words) questions to ask.
Remember, it’s fine (maybe) to buy something you need or want that is pink or has a pink ribbon. It’s not so fine to buy something just BECAUSE it’s pink or has a pink ribbon or two slapped on it. Big difference in my book. Bottom line – pink responsibly!
2. Start a conversation with your friend, neighbor, relative or co-worker.
Ask them how they feel about pink ribbons, LISTEN and take things from there. I find that acknowledging (without judging, yeah I know sometimes this is hard) a differing opinion from mine is a perfect way to open communication lines.
3. Learn all you can about the FULL spectrum of this disease, including stage IV, from reputable sites and organizations.
I have some listed on my site. Print out 13 Facts Everyone Should Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer via the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network Learn them. Share them!
And remember men can get breast cancer too. Learn more here.
4. Read a blog (or two or three) written by someone with metastatic disease to gain a clearer understanding about what it’s like to live with a stage IV diagnosis day in and day out.
Leave them a comment. You can always just say you care and appreciate how they are sharing their story. For a list of some mets bloggers click here. Are you a mets blogger? Let me know and I’ll add you to the list.
5. Explain to someone what metastatic breast cancer is.
It’s appalling that despite all the awareness so many do not know what this means. People not knowing what it means isn’t the appalling part. The appalling part is that despite all these years of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this message has not been delivered.
6. Whenever you hear the word ‘cure’ coupled with breast cancer, think ‘red flag’.
There isn’t a cure for breast cancer as such because it can and does sometimes metastasize many years later. We aim for NED (no evidence of disease).
7. Be an example.
If you know someone in your neighborhood who is dealing with cancer, do something appropriate based on your relationship with her. Provide a meal, watch the kids, deliver some magazines, weed her garden, whatever… Don’t know anyone personally? Volunteer at your local hospital or somewhere else. When others observe, you are going above and beyond raising awareness.
8. Before you purchase that pink gizmo or bite into that cookie or doughnut saturated with pink icing and/or pink sprinkles, ask yourself – how is this helping?
9. Watch the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc. (after reading my review of course).
No, the movie’s not perfect; but gosh, it blew me away. It’s now on Netflix and probably other places too. Already seen it? Recommend it to a friend.
10. Read the book, Pink Ribbon Blues (again, after reading my review!) by Gayle Sulik, PhD.
This book opened my eyes. It’ll open yours too.
11. Donate to a charity only after you’ve done your research to see if its mission and values mesh with yours.
For me, it’s all about supporting research. Pick what matters most to YOU and then donate directly instead of just buying pink stuff. And remember big isn’t always better. Sometimes a small local place is the perfect choice to help those in need in your community.
12. Speak up. Speak out.
When something in the awareness hype doesn’t feel right to you (and not just during October but all year long), don’t keep quiet. Questioning and making noise is how change happens. It’s also how we educate others and ourselves, too, for that matter. Be leery of over-simplified messaging in all awareness campaigns regardless of the source. Nothing about breast cancer is simple. We need to stop pretending otherwise.
So, those are a few things I’ve come up with so far for specific things YOU can do to support educated awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all year long.
What you do matters. What each of us does matters. What we all do collectively matters even more.
What will you do (or encourage others to do) this October and beyond to help generate “educated awareness”?
I’d love to hear your ideas! Let’s brainstorm!
If you like these ideas, why not share this post? Thank you!
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