As Breast Cancer Awareness Month starts Oct. 1, we all look to embracing the pink ribbon and everything it represents — supporting and protecting women who have been affected by the disease, and those who love them; and helping fund life-saving research, education and health programs.
Breast cancer is very personal to me and my family, as it is to so many millions of others who have faced it. I’ve spoken openly about my experience on my friend Rachael Ray’s show, talking about my diagnosis and treatment (you can see the video at rachaelrayshow.com/articles/gretta-monahan-bravely-opens-up-about-her-emotional-breast-cancer-journey). We all know someone affected by the disease — one in every eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetimes — and so many of us want to help.
And, as we’ve learned in the decades since the pink ribbon was introduced to the retail community in the early 1990s, some programs and products do more than others. What we truly need in the fight against breast cancer is not only branding (though every bit helps!), but also real education, awareness of how to prevent it, and quantifiable action in research and health programs.
Whether you choose to volunteer, support a charity, sign up for a walk, help an afflicted friend or her family, or yes, buy a product proven to contribute a noteworthy chunk of its profits to fighting breast cancer, everything you do helps.
Here are a few great ways to pitch in:
Join me at a celebration and auction to help find the cause. One of my favorite organizations is Find The Cause Breast Cancer Foundation, which raises funds to research the environmental causes of breast cancer, and to educate the public on prevention. (Ninety percent of women who are diagnosed don’t have a family history with the disease, so this hardworking organization is dedicated to filling in the blanks that will save lives.) On Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., my husband Ricky Golden and I will be co-chairing the auction for a wonderful virtual event to help raise funds. Register for your tickets here: findthecausebcf.org, and join us!
Send words of encouragement to women facing breast cancer and the health care professionals helping them. Through the National Breast Cancer Foundation, you can send handwritten cards to either or both groups, with hopeful and thankful thoughts. Sign up at nationalbreastcancer.org/wp-content/uploads/HK-Encouragement-Card-Guidelines-v2.pdf.
Get regular screenings. If you’re a woman, make sure you get all of your regular screening appointments on the calendar. Often, there are no symptoms for breast cancer early on, so mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs and other screening technologies are a crucial tool in early detection. Make sure you always get yours scheduled.
Get on the move. Sometimes a charity challenge with others on the same mission is what we need to feel like we’re really doing something — and if the thing you’re doing is getting your blood pumping and raising money to cure breast cancer, well, then that’s a definite win-win. Find a walk near you here: komen.org/how-to-help/attend-events/race-for-the-cure.
Lend a hand to someone facing breast cancer. So many of us find ways to help afflicted friends and family — we bring food, flowers, do errands and just stop by to talk. But what about those who we don’t know? They need a hand, too. The Ellie Fund allows you to donate for specific kinds of help ($25 for a bag of groceries, $200 for housecleaning, etc.) Choose how to help at classy.org/campaign/wellesley-turns-pink-for-ellie-fund/c429255.
Buy something pretty. One of the most bona fide committed companies to helping fund breast cancer research has been Estee Lauder; its campaign has lasted more than 30 years. Every year the brand Aerin releases a beauty product or set and donates fully 100% of the purchase price to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This year they’ve released a Limited Edition BCRF Rose Lip Conditioner & Cedar Violet Travel Spray Set ($58 on vonmaur.com).