Whether you are doing good for the cause or doing good for you and your loved ones, there are tons of ways to raise breast cancer awareness this month. Here are 31 ideas, one for each day of October:
1. Put your blue jeans on. Lee National Denim Day, on Oct. 1, is one of the largest single-day breast cancer fundraisers in the nation, benefiting the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s women’s cancer programs (www.eifoundation.org). How it works: Lee Jeans invites companies to go casual for a cause, inviting employees to wear their jeans to work on Denim Day in exchange for a $5 contribution to the fight against breast cancer. www.DenimDay.com
2. Go pink with NASCAR. Through Toyota Racing’s “Racing for Awareness,” fans can vote for their favorite T-shirt design at www.toyotaracing.com/RacingForAwareness through Oct. 4, with the winning design unveiled at Charlotte Motor Speedway the weekend of Oct. 13. Toyota will donate $500 in the name of each participant to the Charlotte-based charity Carolina Breast Friends, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
3. Book a doctor’s appointment. If you’re 40 or older and haven’t had a mammogram this year, you should get one.
4. When it comes to breast cancer, sometimes it’s hard to find the right?words. Greeting Card Universe, www.greetingcarduniverse.com, offers several customizable cards ($3 each) to create awareness, announce recovery progress, show support, celebrate being a survivor or humor cards to make the patient laugh.
5. Auction off a cast of your and your friends’ breasts! Organize a Cast Exhibition through the Keep a Breast Foundation, www.keep-a-breast.org/home.
6. Support your sisters, and wear pink!
7. Cancer, schmancer, is what Fran Drescher (a uterine cancer survivor) says. check out her site Cancer Schmancer, www.cancerschmancer.org, which has info on early detection and prevention, as well as ways to “Trash Cancer” in your home.
8. Pop some vitamin D. “Research released in the September 2011 issue of Anticancer Research found that those whose vitamin D was in the highest quartile were 39 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to those whose vitamin D was in the lowest quartile,” says Dr. John J. Cannell, executive director of the Vitamin D Council, who recommends getting it through sunlight exposure and vitamin D3 supplements. www.vitamindcouncil.org
9. Walk the walk! Participate in a major three-day awareness walk/fundraising event like the Susan G. Komen 3-Day: www.the3day.org. Or, a two-day Avon Walk for Breast Cancer: www.avonwalk.org. Or, find another timeframe that works for you: www.komen.org/findarace.aspx
10. Eat your fruits and veggies — more than five cups a day, say the experts at Breastcancer.org. The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates that one-third of all cancer deaths may be related to diet, but the good news is that many fruits, veggies, herbs and legumes found at your local grocery store or farmer’s market contain cancer-fighting properties and antioxidants that battle the damage caused by free radicals. The top foods for breast cancer protection: cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage; dark leafy greens like kale and spinach; fruits like citrus, berries and cherries.
11. Hit the pavement. “It has been shown that regular cardiovascular exercise decreases risk of breast cancer and improves survival for those who have it,” says Dr. Diane Radford of the Mercy St. Louis Cancer & Breast Institute. Exercising four or more hours a week may decrease hormone levels and help lower breast cancer risk, says the National Cancer Institute.
12. Sip a glass of red vino. Seattle’s Dr. Richard Baxter, author of “Age Gets Better with Wine: New Science for a Healthier, Better and Longer Life,” says, “There’s powerful scientific evidence that resveratrol, a molecule found in red wine, may hold the key to preventing breast cancer.” But remember: that’s one glass. Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
13. Find a local group donating to breast cancer research. It could be an athletic team donning pink jerseys for a game, or a special night at a nearby restaurant where part of the proceeds go to fight cancer, or a hospital holding a women’s health fair. Check your local paper for ideas.
14. Buy the Pink Ribbon apron from www.susanandveronica.com/shop/pink-ribbon-aprons.html, benefitting Young Survival Coalition, www.youngsurvival.org.
15. Be informed on healthy living. Think Pink, Live Green provides practical tips for women who have or who have had breast cancer, such as choosing the safest sunscreens and cosmetics, buying organic at the grocery store and what cleaning and household products are safe to use to decrease the risk of cancer. www.breastcancer.org/
16. Read up on alternative therapies for prevention and treatment. It worked for Hollie Quinn, who wrote a book about it with her husband in 2010: www.youdidwhatbook.com.
17. Eat breakfast. LUNA Bars http://lunabar.com/life/causes/) support the Breast Cancer Fund, www.breastcancerfund.org.
18. Find out if your breasts are dense. About one-third of women older than 50 have dense breasts, which makes mammograms more challenging, says Dr. Stacey Vitiello, a breast imaging specialist at Montclair Breast Center in New Jersey. If they are dense and you are over 40, you need to have a screening test (breast ultrasound or MRI, depending on your other risk factors) in addition to your mammogram each year. Several states, including Connecticut, Texas and California, have passed bills requiring that women be informed about their breast density. www.AreYouDense.org
19. Colonial Candle’s first Pretty in Pink breast cancer awareness candle will be sold this year, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Find the $25 three-wick candles at www.ColonialCandle.com.
20. Donate to an organization that directly pays for cancer care. Find a list at www.ironwoodcrc.com.21. Write or email your local government urging them to keep state Medicaid programs that help cancer patients.?Many states are cutting their Medicaid programs, leaving many people without health insurance and unable to pay for care.
22. Write or email federal legislators urging them to remove the six-month waiting period for Pre-existing Condition Insurance, urges Melissa Veselovsky, director of patient Advocacy at the Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers in Arizona,www.ironwoodcrc.com.
23. Stop smoking! If you didn’t already have enough reasons, studies show that there is a link between breast cancer and smoking and second-hand smoke.
24. Since 2010, Otis Spunkmeyer has donated more than $200,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure through sales of its Pink Cookies. The group will donate to Komen $1.50 per cookie sold, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $100,000. Find the cookies through October at grocers and convenience stores.
25. Help out. GiveForward provides personalized fundraising webpages for people facing a medical crisis, like breast cancer, so they can cover their out-of-pocket medical expenses. Friends and family can leave financial and emotional support for their loved ones. www.giveforward.com/
26. Do a breast self-exam and report any changes (including lumps, swelling, nipple pain or discharge) to your doctor.
27. Consider switching your method of birth control from the pill if you have a family history and are at high risk for breast cancer. There are conflicting studies out there, but some show that oral contraceptives may increase your risk, especially if you are older than 45.
28. Have you ever contacted your local chapter of the American Cancer Society? Chances are they have information and volunteer opportunities for you. Find yours, and other resources, at cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/app/resource-search.
29. Give a hug. Hug Wraps are hospital gown alternatives for cancer patients to wear during various treatments. Using all recycled material from pillows and blankets, these robes are meant to comfort. www.hugwraps.org?30. Clean green. “Most of our cancers are environmental and until the cleaning industry has to tell us what is in their products, I suggest making your own,” says Leslie Reichert, The Cleaning Coach and author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning.” She has recipes on her site: www.greencleaningcoach.com
31. Just because the month is ending, the ways to fight cancer and the need for research are not. Check out other organizations, such as Stand Up To Cancer, standup2cancer.org, and keep your family, friends or co-workers involved.