By Bernard Freeman
If you have been personally affected by breast cancer or have a friend or family member who has been affected, you may be looking for ways to help spread awareness and support breast cancer patients.
Here are some ideas from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Foundation for Cancer Research.
- Share your story of how breast cancer has impacted you on the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s During the month of October, the organization will share stories on their website as a “celebration of strength and a message of support to those currently on their own breast cancer journey.”
- Make a one-time or monthly donation to help a woman in need get screening or access to treatment.
- Spread the word on your social media channels. Link to your favorite breast cancer research or aid organization. You could also consider hosting a virtual fundraiser or a Facebook fundraiser.
- Proudly wear a pink ribbon during October or year-round. It creates a conversation starter to help you share your story.
- Alternatively to wearing a pink ribbon, participate in Breast Cancer Now’s Wear it Pink Day. On October 22, 2021, wear a pink outfit and coordinate with friends to help spread awareness. You can also host a fundraiser on the day.
- Breast cancer patients may not always ask for help when they need it. Go out of your way to offer help proactively. Say something like, “Could I come over and walk the dog every afternoon next week?” or “Can I bring dinner for the family on your upcoming treatment days?”
- Many chemo wards take donations of clothing, scarves and hats for patients. Reach out to local organizations to see what good or services they could use.
Reduce Breast Cancer Risks
Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer organization. Some women have an increased risk based on family heritage. There are other risk factors that can be controlled, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Get to know the risk factors
Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. It can be treated successfully.
A few risks of getting breast cancer include:
Being a woman. Simply being a woman, is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer.
Age. Just like many other diseases, the risk of one getting it increases as one gets older.
Family history. If you’ve had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled. Understanding your history is key to beating breast cancer.
Lifestyle habits that can help reduce your risk of breast cancer include:
Maintain a healthy weight. According to the National Cancer Institute, being overweight or obese after menopause increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and can worsen outcomes after a diagnosis. Putting on a lot of extra pounds in the early stages of adulthood can nearly double your chance of developing breast cancer after menopause. But if you’re able to avoid gaining weight, your risk is cut in half.
Eat less red meat. High consumption of red meat is related to a greater risk of developing breast and other cancers. Aim to consume more plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and quinoa.
Eat more fruit and vegetables. Lower intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend consuming two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables each day.
Limit alcohol. Even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Women who have between two and three alcoholic drinks per day have a 20% higher risk of the disease compared to those do that do not drink.
Quit smoking. Several studies have demonstrated a link between smoking and an increased risk of developing breast cancer.