Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What Can You Do?

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Maybe it’s your sister.
Maybe it’s your friend’s mom.
Maybe it’s your first grade teacher, your former Girl Scout leader or your old soccer coach.
No matter who it is, the fact is this: Nearly every girl (including myself) knows a woman whose life has been affected by breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but what does that mean for those of us who can’t exactly change the world just yet? Those of us in college, studying the effects of the condition, but who don’t yet have the jobs to directly help those patients? Those of us lacking huge amounts of money to donate to charity? Those of us who care, but aren’t sure how to make a difference?
What can we do? Her Campus has the answers.
1. Spread the facts.
A huge problem with medical conditions, breast cancer included, is the myths surrounding them. Being misinformed is not cool – how are you supposed to work toward awareness without knowing what’s really going on?
Truth is, nobody knows exactly what causes breast cancer, according to the website for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can reduce your risk, however – by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and limiting how much alcohol you drink.
Another misconception is that breast cancer only affects older women. In reality, women ages 20 and up can get breast cancer, but as you age, the likelihood increases, according to the Komen site.
When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the chances of getting through it are relatively good – the 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed is 90 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer will never experience a recurrence. However, like with most cancers, the earlier you catch the cancer the easier it is to confine and treat.
If you have further questions, ask! Use a legitimate source – like your gynecologist or – to find out the facts. Correct your friends when they make mistakes; wrong information hurts everyone involved.
2. Wear pink.

This is undeniably the easiest way to spread awareness this month. Wear pink shirts, shoes, shorts, headbands, bracelets, socks – whatever you can – to make it clear that you’re dressed for the cause. Besides, pink pants are totally in right now (think Blake Lively filming Gossip Girl).
Try challenging your roommates to wear at least one pink article of clothing per day. Whoever loses has to use temporary dye to make a stripe of their hair pink! Seriously, that’s not even a tough punishment – it’ll be so Lucy Hale in Pretty Little 
When people ask about your (probably adorable) pink ensemble, tell them why you’re dressed that way. Engage them in conversation about how they can spread awareness themselves, or refer them to a reputable information source like the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. website.
By wearing pink, you can be stylish and supportive.
3. Do self-exams.
It may seem awkward to read about, but consider how much weirder it’d be to have a problem you didn’t know about. Breast self-exams are easy, quick and can save your life. Almost 70 percent of all breast cancers are found via self-exams, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This early detection can up your 5-year survival rate to 98 percent!
So, the next time there’s a commercial during Glee, take a few minutes to check yourself. Here’s an easy-to-understand guide to examining yourself, courtesy of and Seventeen magazine.

  1. Stand topless in front of a mirror with your arms at your side. Look at yourself. Do you see anything unusual? Are your breasts the usual size, shape and color? Raise your arms and check again. Gently squeeze each nipple to check for yellow/red discharge – either is abnormal. If there’s swelling, dimpling, puckering or redness, alert your doctor.
  2. Take a shower (you have to do this anyway. Why not check yourself while you’re at it?). While standing, gently move your fingers over every part of each breast. Use your right hand for the left one and vice versa. Check for any weird lumps or knots.
  3. After all of this work, lie down! Put a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand with fingers flat, press your right breast gently in small circles covering the entire breast. Vary the pressure you use. Repeat for the left breast.

If you ever notice anything out of the ordinary with your breasts, contact a doctor immediately. If you’re too uncomfortable to call the doctor’s office by yourself, use three-way to call with your mom on the line… she’ll make sure you say the right things.
4. Shop smartly.
Shopping is something everyone enjoys, so why not make the most of your spending? Buy products from companies who donate their proceeds to breast cancer research. Seventeen has a comprehensive list of these items, and we found even more:
Makeup: glominerals special edition pink blossom lip gloss is the perfect color to complement your pink awareness outfit! The company that makes it, gloProfessional, has donated a portion of its sales to the National Breast Cancer Foundation every year since 2008. Similarly, Revitalash eyelash conditioner will donate 20 percent of October online sales to breast cancer research.
Jewelry: Lilly Pulitzer’s Full of Hope charm bracelet is $48, and the company supports the Breast Cancer Charities of America. Looking for something cheaper? Payless sells a $2 set of silver-ribbon and pink rhinestone earrings. All of the net profits – at least $1 per each set sold – will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Accessories: OPI just came out with pink shatter nail polish in order to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If you’d rather donate through Ulta, they’ll give you a thermal mug for a $5 contribution. Also, Paul Mitchell released a limited-edition curling iron for the cause – the company will donate to the American Cancer Society with each purchase.
5. Donate what you can.

All women with breast cancer were young and broke once, too. That’s not to undervalue the importance of donating to charities focused on breast cancer research. In this case, do what you can to support the cause.
Host a mini bake sale on your dorm’s floor – everyone loves brownies – and donate your profits. Skip your daily Starbucks run and send the $5 saved to a charity. Organize a party with your friends where you drink cheap sodas instead of expensive beverages … it’ll be just as fun and even more gratifying. Don’t stress over the amount, because every single cent helps.
Once you’ve collected enough to make a donation, be careful what you do. Many larger charities use donors’ money for marketing rather than research. If you want to contribute directly, make sure the organization is 501 (c) 3. This means it’s recognized as charitable by the IRS.
Want to go local? Check out the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, which advocates education and research about the condition, to help people around the state.
Consider your options. Look at smaller groups like the Ellie Fund in Boston. This organization centers on directly helping people affected by breast cancer. Members drive patients to doctor’s appointments, babysit their kids and make meals for their families — all for free.
See? Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. Get out there, colliegettes, and spread awareness!


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