Some people grow mustaches. Others walk or run miles and miles dressed in tutus. Still others tie pink ribbons around everything they can get a hold of, all in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, while raising awareness is great, there are some very practical, meaningful ways you can lend a hand to cancer patients and survivors close to home.
Walk, run, or volunteer. Find a walk, run, or another event whose dollars raised go to support local survivors (rather than a national PR campaign). This way, you’ll see the impact right in your own neighborhood.
Get your mammogram (and encourage others to do the same). Mammograms save lives and can catch cancer at a very early stage, often when there are no physical symptoms. And annual visits typically cost nothing out-of-pocket for women over 40.
Help someone who has been diagnosed. Cancer is expensive but it’s also very time-consuming. With surgeries, follow-ups, and chemo or weekly radiation visits, just getting the care needed is exhausting. Especially for rural patients who need to travel great distances for care, you can help by offering to give them a ride, picking their kids up from school, or dropping off dinner when they’re too tired to cook.
Donate to research organizations and universities. Buying pink everything is nice, but investing your dollars in well-known cancer researchers will lead to more meaningful progress and change.
Visit and give to your local cancer center. Of course there are restriction on visitation at cancer centers (so call or ask ahead of time) but don’t be afraid to actually stop by. Drop off clothes, toiletries, or makeup for adults at a chemo center or a new game or craft at a children’s ward. Consider a plant or sweets for the nurses or radiology techs to thank them for all they do.
There are lots of hands-on ways to show your support to loved ones and strangers this Breast Cancer Awareness Month but if donating cash makes the most sense to you, do your research and make sure your dollars raised are going to support research, patients, and survivors (not administration). Check https://www.charitywatch.org/top-rated-charities/cancer for the organization that is right for you!