As we are well into Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what better way to finish it off than to think of ways to work for change, both this month and beyond? Taking action can be a great outlet and is empowering, whether you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer or you are a survivor. Most people have some knowledge of the classic pink ribbon walkathons and runs that are prevalent in October. These events are great ways to raise money and bring awareness and you can find them in nearly every community. However, we would like to highlight a few other ways that you can take social action.
First of all, what if you hate pink? Or just don’t like being lumped into the stereotypical pink ribbon crowd? Some women simply aren’t fans of pink, aren’t frilly, or just don’t feel the pink ribbon evokes the strength and dignity that comes with enduring breast cancer. Thankfully, one resource I found gives a few great initiatives for strong women who are looking for something a bit more “tough” than pink. Some of these have passed, but some are ongoing and definitely worthwhile. Click here for some “Not so Frilly and Pink” initiatives.
As mentioned in the introduction to this series with the story of Kate Pisano, another great option is to be a liaison or patient advocate at a hospital, helping other women who are going through the same things you have been through. This can be incredibly meaningful to both the liaison and the patient, resulting in significant relationships and a great way to use your own suffering to bring healing to others. Contact your hospital or oncologist and ask how if there is a liaison program already set up, or if you can start one.
Additionally, there are many breast cancer events from hikes to film festivals that you can find in various locations. Some great places to search are the Breast Cancer Fund’s events page and American Cancer Society’s list of events.
An additional area that many women forget to consider is in the area of advocacy. You don’t have to be a lawyer or activist to push for social change. From signing a petition to calling up your local representative regarding a piece of legislation that you care about, you can make more of a difference than you realize. It was due to women and people who care that the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 was passed to regulate the toxic chemicals in cosmetics, or that the “Put a Lid on it” campaign resulted in General Mills and Dannon removing rBGH from the dairy products in 2009.
A great resource for ways to take action is bcaction.org, where many legislative initiatives are being pushed, from legislation against fracking to action against corporations who are peddling cosmetic products that contain cancer-causing chemicals or even chemicals that interfere with treatment to women with breast cancer. You can also become a community leader for change within your own community
Fundraising and education are two other areas that can make a significant impact. Educating the public about breast cancer is something that a breast cancer survivor is especially equipped to do with personal experience to back up the facts. There are many ways to educate, from helping with publicity or handing out brochures, to actually being an educator. You can help with fundraising, whether by donating your money or donating time to raise funds for an organization. If you’re uncomfortable giving to one of the larger organizations, like the National Breast Cancer Foundation, you can try to find local initiatives or projects to donate to.
As you can see, there are so many ways that you can get involved and use your own experience to help others. All it takes is the first step and you may find it becomes so much more than just a simple volunteer experience. Many women find their vocations or simply make life-long relationships as a result of getting out of their comfort zones and bettering the lives of others.
Come back in two weeks and we will discuss why social action is important and how it can help you step beyond simply being another victim of breast cancer into being the strong victor you are.