Beyond the Pink:  Make Breast Cancer Awareness Month Meaningful (Again)

Beyond the Pink: Make Breast Cancer Awareness Month Meaningful (Again)

While the idea behind breast cancer awareness month (October 2020) is to support and remember those who have battled, or been affected by the devastating disease, the sentiment often gets buried beneath an avalanche of  pink ribbons.

An estimated 325,010* women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 – and approximately 42,170 will not survive.  The problem with these statistics is that they are just numbers. They don’t have names, faces, or voices to show us what they’ve been through. Cold hard breast cancer facts reduce the individual experience of every victim to nothing but numbers, and make us forget what we’re supposed to remember.

To conceptualize 42,170 people – imagine two Madison Square Gardens filled to capacity.  That’s how many women will die from breast cancer just this year.

That means something.

We get so caught up in mindlessly ‘spreading awareness’ – wearing pink or retweeting the same breast cancer  meme for the millionth time – that we don’t stop and think about what any of it means.  We don’t think about the lives of the 325,010 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – or how any of us – or our loved ones – could be one of them.

What Can I do For Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020?

This year, instead of passive pink breast cancer awareness, take action in October.

Since everything should be sharable and meme worthy in 2020 – we can call this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month: ACTober.

  • Assess your risk for the disease.
  • Participate in a (virtual) breast cancer walk to raise money for research, and lower your own risk (through exercise) at the same time. 
  • Join a local NJ Breast Cancer support group.
  • Donate to a local NJ chemotherapy center or breast cancer organization.  And you don’t have to give money! There are so many ways you can help out and take meaningful action during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including volunteering and donating lightly used items.
  • Lend an ear. Many breast cancer patients feel pressured by society to ‘be strong’ and ‘stay positive’ – especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Try not to use words like “warrior” and “survivor”. Those well intentioned phrases can carry a lot of baggage. Sometimes the best way to help is simply by listening.
  • Share event and activity-based ‘think pink’ breast cancer awareness information on social media with the goal of encouraging others to get active. This goes beyond just changing your background to a pink ribbon – it means promoting, and even hosting, virtual events like fundraisers or breast cancer support groups.
  • Continue to share breast cancer awareness memes and images in addition to taking meaningful action. As long as you’re walking the walk, spreading cancer awareness through memes may eventually get through to others.

Whatever you do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020 – make it meaningful.   Don’t just “think pink” – do something.

* From BreastCancer.Org. Total number reflects an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.