Concrete ways to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer

This week I found out that a friend of mine was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Oh, the irony.

Breast cancer is a personal issue for me because my family has a strong history of breast cancer. My grandmother had breast cancer. So did her sisters (my great-aunts). So did her daughter (my aunt). Sometimes it's disheartening and I think it's just a matter of time before I get it too.

For years I worked hard to bring awareness of breast cancer through my blogs. I wore pink every day and blogged about it every day in October, along with pleas to donate to breast cancer research and get regular mammograms (or encourage the women in your life to get mammograms).  Gradually I began to see that awareness is no longer the issue. Wearing pink and posting your bra color on Facebook are cute memes that are designed to raise awareness, but everyone is already AWARE. The time for AWARENESS is done, and it's time for ACTION.

So this October, I pledge not to wear pink every day, but to talk to people about concrete steps they can take to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer:

Know your family history

Do you have a family history of breast cancer? Would it make sense to get tested for the breast cancer gene? Knowledge is power! Note that the new guidelines for breast cancer screening put forward by the American Cancer Society do not apply to those with a family history of breast cancer!  My parents were always open about my strong genetic link to breast cancer and the need to stay vigilant through self-care and regular check-ups.

Live a healthy lifestyle

I try to be positive and do everything I can to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer in other ways. I try to eat healthy foods and avoid foods containing known carcinogens. I try to get regular exercise. I have never smoked and I have never done drugs. I don't drink regularly.  I think everyone, not just people with a family history of breast cancer, should do the same.

Be a friend

If you have a friend with breast cancer, don't be a stranger. Instead of words of sympathy, offer to take over part of her carpool duties. Invite her kids over to your house after school on the days she gets chemo treatments. Cook dinner for her family.

Donate to breast cancer research or care programs

The marketplace is flooded with pink products, which in my opinion isn't a bad thing. I don't have a big problem with pink products, even though I've already said enough with the awareness. I would buy pink products more to show support rather than to spread awareness. Also, be aware that not all of the money you spend on pink products will go towards research.

For the biggest impact, donate directly to a nonprofit organization that funds research or programs that help people with breast cancer. Do your research to make sure that a big chunk of your donation doesn't end up being spent on marketing and fundraising. Check out Charity Navigator or check out this post for a summary of reputable organizations.

Get screened

Early detection is key! Even as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment. Follow the American Cancer Society's recommendations for breast exams, including regular mammograms and breast self exams.

Get insured

Consider insurance policies that can help ease worries about the financial cost of breast cancer if it were to occur. Fighting breast cancer can be expensive, even with health insurance. In addition to treatment costs, extra costs include child care, transportation to the hospital, grocery delivery, and more. Aflac has a cancer insurance policy that can help cover those out-of-pocket costs. Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.

How Aflac is supporting the cause this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.

Aflac is selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.

Aflac supports the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.

You can donate and shop for merchandise here.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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