Throughout October you may see the color pink everywhere you turn, on shirts, hats, ribbons, pins, and even on NFL player uniforms. Since 1985, the month of October has universally been known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), and in 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in a commemorative 5k race for breast cancer survivors. Since then, the color pink has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Each year in the United States, more than 41,000 women die from breast cancer, and another 255,000 will receive a diagnosis, including 2,400 men.
Those staggering numbers demonstrate why it is so vitally important to raise awareness and funds for research, early detection, education, and support for families affected by this deadly disease.
As a busy healthcare professional, sometimes it is difficult to find time to participate in awareness activities for the many health-related events that are held throughout the year. With breast cancer awareness, there is a pretty good chance that your workplace is holding one or more events throughout the month for employees to participate in. If not, there are sure to be events around your local community. If you are a runner, find a local 5k or fun walk. The Komen Foundation is sponsoring their “Race for the Cure” in localities across the U.S. all month long. Finding one near you and running or volunteering is a great way to join the awareness effort.
Even if your schedule doesn’t allow you to join a formal NBCAM event, you can still play a role. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has posted a link for individuals to donate funds to be used to help disadvantaged women get treatment or a mammogram for early detection. You can also create an in-person or a virtual fundraiser with all of the tools and information you might need available here.
Lastly, you can even play a role in raising breast cancer awareness through your daily interactions with patients.
- Encourage women to familiarize themselves with breast self-exams.
- Recommend breast screening based on age group, family history, race, and ethnicity.
- Help educate your patients on the health and preventative benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthier weight, limiting alcohol, and quitting smoking.
- Be a supportive voice. Encourage your patients to talk about any concerns they may have about developing cancer, getting a breast screening, and also on treatments that are available.
Breast cancer impacts everyone and your role as a healthcare professional allows you to be a trusted advisor to individuals who may not be aware of the prevalence and the dangers of this disease. Use the month of October as a reminder to participate wherever and however you can, and to be an active voice in alerting others to protect themselves through early detection.
We want to hear from you. What NBCAM activities are you participating in this month? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.