A breast cancer diagnosis is perhaps one of the most terrifying experiences a woman or a man can have. Having to discover the changes in your skin on or around the breast or a lump can have a very big impact on the life of anyone.
It’s October, meaning that it’s breast cancer awareness month. Most people, including me, have good intentions for pinktober, we truly want to do something to help cure breast cancer, a disease that is estimated to cause over 522,000 deaths worldwide.
As much as we love to buy the pink ribbons, and share facebook posts for awareness, this goes a very little way in actually helping the patients who are affected by this disease.
Thanks to the efforts of campaigns and social media awareness though, its amazing to know that almost every little girl is likely already aware of breast cancer.
But how are we helping those who are already diagnosed?
Here are a few actionable things we can do to help people living with breast cancer :
1 / Not just awareness, More support
During this breast cancer awareness month, you can help support a patient dealing with the disease by donating to a charity, organizing or attending makeup classes in honor of women dealing with the disease, wig donations, exercise classes, or even offering to help with payment of treatment if you are financially able to. All these things lend emotional and physical support to the patients.
2 / Donate to research schemes
Research is very critical and necessary.
Globally, metastatic breast cancer receives much less funding than early-stage breast cancer, even though it is the only form of breast cancer that you can actually die of.
Most of the charitable money goes to basic research that has little clinical application. So when you’re looking for charities to donate to, it’s important to find ones that are trying to get an actual cure to patients and not just talking a lot about the idea of “awareness.”
3 / Help out someone you know who has cancer
“Let me know if I can do anything for you.” These words mean a lot when talking to a cancer patient. But the sad truth most times is that someone with cancer will hear those words a lot … and may never see that person again.
The longer they are on treatment, the more they need help. They need help with keeping their homes clean, checking up on kids in school, if they have one, even organizing some work they may not be able to complete due to their status.
So if you know somebody who has cancer, don’t ask how you can help. Tell them how you plan to. Don’t put the burden of asking for help on the cancer patient, especially if this is a close relative or friend.
4 / Let them know they’re in your thoughts & prayers.
Sending encouragement towards their way sometimes can help a patient emotionally to get better and stronger while dealing with the pain. You could even write cards and leave them at chemo centers or hospital wards for cancer patients on holidays. This can be meaningful for somebody going through the most frightening time of their life.
5 / Listen to cancer patients*
Remember that when you speak to a cancer patient, they don’t necessarily feel like warriors or survivors; they don’t always want (or need) to have a positive attitude. And nothing they did, from eating sugar to consuming processed foods, caused their cancer.
When somebody trusts you enough to tell you they have cancer, don’t respond by telling them they’re a warrior, or insinuate that they did something wrong. Just tell them that you are sorry this happened to them, and that you are here to listen. It’s important that you speak to them as the friends, colleagues, or loved ones they’ve always been.
Cancer can be isolating, but you can be that reassuring figure who reminds them that they don’t always have to pretend to be brave.
Pink October has become almost a national holiday, with pink promotions everywhere. Many women will be diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer, get treated, and then still go on to have a metastatic relapse, and that’s what kills people the most.
We can always do something to help in anyway that we can. Spread awareness, help cancer patients and remember to get yourself checked too.
Think pink always!