Every October, breast cancer charities participate in a month-long health campaign to spread awareness about breast cancer and raise funds for breast cancer research. 1 in 8 Aussies will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they’re 85, so it’s important to spread awareness so the wider public know the signs to look out for, where and when to get checked, the impact of breast cancer and how you can get involved with breast cancer awareness month. However, this year, supporting the cause will be different than those before…
Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash.
About Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) runs from 1 October to 31 October, every year. National and global organisations utilise this month to spread awareness and collect funds, which go towards cancer research, advocacy, information and support.
Normally, there are annual marches, races and other fundraising events hosted by breast cancer and other women’s health charities. In 2020, the majority of these charities have had to move online, hosting virtual walks and online events to maintain the community and hopes to continue to raise money and awareness for women’s cancers in 2020.
According to Cancer Council, 70 Aussie women are diagnosed daily with breast or gynaecological cancer, with a 90% rate of survival for breast cancer for at least 5 years. In addition to breast cancer, BCAM also helps raise donations for ovarian, cervical, vaginal, vulvar and uterine cancer.
Reducing the Risk of Breast Cancer
Nearly 17 thousand Aussie women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. Women 50 years or older make up three-quarters of all breast cancer cases, which is why the Cancer Council recommends getting a screening mammogram every two years from the age of 50 (BreastScreen Australia offers these screening sessions for free in their program). In saying this, it’s still important to know the signs, Cancer Council claims that “Screening mammograms are often less reliable for women under 40 years of age. The density of breast tissue in younger women often makes it difficult to detect cancers on mammograms.”
“When breast cancer is detected early, women have a much greater chance of being treated successfully and for most women the cancer will not come back after treatment,” (cancer.org.au).
General breast cancer preventative steps you can take.
Mayo Clinic advises there are steps women (and men) can take to help reduce the risk of breast (and other) cancer throughout your lifetime. Although breast cancer cannot always be avoided, there are proactive steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of getting breast cancer.
However, there are patients who have no related causes who still develop breast cancer, while others who have multiple causes for developing the disease will never get it. It’s not always definitive if a person will or will not get breast cancer in their lifetime, which is why it’s important to still make an effort to reduce the common influences that are associated with the disease.
“It’s likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment,” (Mayoclinic.org).
Furthermore, Mayo Clinic advises that making lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Such as; exercising regularly, eating healthily, maintaining a healthy body weight, drinking less (or no) alcohol, learning to self-examine yourself and speaking to your doctor about breast cancer screenings are all important factors to reduce the risks.
General cancer preventative steps you can take.
For general health impacts, it’s important to wear sunblock and cover yourself to minimise your exposure to the sun, especially with our strong sun rays in Australia. Discouraging yourself and others from smoking; the impact of second-hand smoke can greatly impact the younger people around you. Additionally, the recommended guidelines for getting checked for various cancers and know your family history with any form of cancer. Know the signs. Lastly, eating no (or less) meat and other animal products can reduce cancer risks, with a preventative effect. Mayoclinic claims that “In fact, vegans — those who don’t eat any animal products including fish, dairy or eggs — appeared to have the lowest rates of cancer of any diet.”
Know the Signs to Help with Detecting Breast Cancer
Cancer Australia says, “Changes to look for include:
- A new lump or lumpiness, especially if it’s only in one breast.
- A change in the size or shape of your breast.
- A change to the nipple, such as crusting, ulcer, redness or inversion.
- A nipple discharge that occurs without squeezing.
- A change in the skin of your breast such as redness or dimpling.
- An unusual pain that doesn’t go away.
- Most changes aren’t due to breast cancer but it’s important to see your doctor without delay if you notice any of these changes.”
Moreover, if you have relatives who have had breast (or other) cancer, it’s important to be aware and get checked on a regular basis to ensure you’re staying on top of it and knowing the signs and how to prevent it. 5–10% of people who get breast cancer are hereditary cases, which is why it’s so important to be aware of your family’s relationship with breast cancer (or any type of cancer) and what it means for you.
Breast cancer affects women at 1–8 ratio, and men 1 – 721. Nearly 3,000 women died in 2018 in Australia, in comparison to 35 men. It’s important for men to be aware of this disease and the signs too, as it can also affect men.
5 Ways You Can Get Involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
1. Host a pink event.
One of the best ways to get involved with BCAM is to host a pink event. You can even register for an official Do It For Cancer Pink Event through Cancer Council. They’ll send you a fundraiser package and you can set up a fundraiser site to spread awareness and collect donations online. Host a pink event on 28 October to align with Pink Ribbon Day (or host it any day during the month of October) and notify people to wear pink!
“Money raised from your pink fundraiser will help fund world-class research into women’s cancers, cancer prevention and advocacy programs, and support services to help those affected by women’s cancers,” (doitforcancer.com.au).
2. Wear pink.
If you’re too busy to host an event, you can still show your support by wearing pink. Whether you’re working out, going to work or just at home, getting everyone to wear pink spreads awareness and therefore helps the BCAM campaign.
3. Spread the word online.
Make sure to get a photo of yourself or your group wearing pink and post it on social media using the hashtags #PinkPose (I Go Pink) and #DoItForCancer (Cancer Council) to spread awareness online. Furthermore, changing your profile pictures on social media to breast cancer awareness images or a photo of yourself wearing pink helps to get the word out online.
Many charities are moving online this year, with virtual relays, races and marches to participate in. You can donate yourself and/or share donation links online to inform your friends and family that it’s breast cancer awareness month. By joining these online efforts, you can help BCAM in 2020.
Moreover, you can support laws and policies that help people with cancer and use your voice and votes to be a cancer advocate.
4. Donate… non-monetarily.
While monetary donations help to fund cancer research, patient’s treatments, support, care, etc., there are many other ways you can help donate.
Volunteering: Donating your time and effort can greatly help cancer charities and patients. Charities need volunteers to help with fundraising events, patients, admin work, etc.. This also allows monetary donations to go directly to cancer research and patient aids.
Donating Goods: You can donate your goods to charities, such as books, clothes, furniture, etc. Cancer charities sometimes run charity shops that you can donate to regularly.
Donating Blood: People who have cancer need extra blood, including whole-blood donations and platelet donations. By donating blood you can genuinely help those suffering with cancer. Find out more on blood donation information here.
Donating Hair: You can help cancer patients by donating your hair. Cancer patients may experience hair loss, depending on their treatments and other variables. Hair loss on its own can be very emotional hard on patient’s self-esteem, not to mention the difficulty of the disease itself. By offering your hair, you can help by donating it to organisation like Hair with Heart, which will transform it into wigs for people going through this hard time. Moreover, many salons have “Sustainable Salon” stickers on their windows, meaning if you get a big chop then they can donate your hair to an organisation that will make it into a wig for people suffering from medically-induced hair-loss conditions.
Although this may be the most optimal way to get involved, with so many charities and sales calls it’s hard to know who to donate to. Below are some cancer charities and what your donations will go towards.
The Cancer Council: “Money raised from your pink fundraiser will help fund world-class research into women’s cancers, cancer prevention and advocacy programs, and support services to help those affected by women’s cancers.”
National Breast Cancer Foundation: “The research you can fund:
- Prevention and risk.
- New and improved treatments.
- Quality of life.”
Zero Childhood Cancer: “Your support will help all children get access to Zero Childhood Cancer by 2023.”
Canteen: “Canteen supports young cancer patients, young people struggling with the grief of losing a loved one, or young people who have a sibling or parent with cancer. With your help, we can provide free counselling services, life-changing peer support and specialised services for these young Aussies when they need it the most.”
Peter Mac: “Peter Mac researchers are working to accelerate the discovery of new cures and treatments. You can help give every cancer patient the best chance of surviving.”
Rare Cancers Australia: “Your donation will change lives. It will help patients of today. Patients who require access to non-government funded medicines.”
Localsearch Supports Breast Awareness Month
Localsearch will be participating in BCAM, hoping to spread awareness and raise donations for this life-changing cause. For the month of October, Localsearch’s social media and website logos will be changed to pink versions, in the hopes to gain attention from our followers and viewers and encourage them to support the cause. More so, Localsearch has registered a Pink Event through the Cancer Council and will have an in-office donations box and an online fundraising page which staff will also be encouraged to donate to. On Pink Ribbon Day, 28 October 2020, all staff members will be encouraged to wear pink, in addition to wearing pink any day of BCAM. Donations raised by staff will be matched by Localsearch and donated to the Cancer Council.
Of course, this isn’t the most light-hearted of topics, so if you do need someone to speak to, there is help out there. The Cancer Council provides a free hotline you can reach on 13 11 20, in addition to speaking with your GP. If you are looking for a GP in your area, you can find them easily on localsearch.com.au.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only and does not replace professional medical guidance or advice. Localsearch, nor the author, are responsible for any misuse of the contents of this article.