Health & Fitness

5 things you can do to support breast cancer warriors and survivors

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time where we educate ourselves about the disease, donate toward research efforts, and pour out our support for those currently battling breast cancer and celebrate those who have survived and honor those who fought but died from the disease.

But, it’s important that we support these women and men (yes, they can be diagnosed with it, too) all year round! Here are 5 simple things you can do:

Educate and donate: Yes, October is a great time to learn about breast cancer symptoms and treatments and donate to organizations that help those battling the disease. But, don’t let your actions stop once November 1 rolls around.

Continue to educate yourself and others around you by sharing important information, such as how to do at-home breast exams, and share resources on how to receive free mammograms and well-woman visits — three things that help give women a fighting chance to beat breast cancer.

Volunteer: Some people battling breast cancer don’t have a support system, which makes it harder to keep up morale and handle the day-to-day tasks associated with the disease, such as going to appointments and receiving treatments. Call your local hospital and see if they have opportunities for you to volunteer and be helping hand to these women as they’re on the path to healing.

If you’re a hairstylist, makeup artist or manicurist, host a local event for women in your area where they can come get a free day of pampering. Invite a breast cancer advocacy and education organization to come provide resources as well.

Listen to and amplify the stories of warriors and survivors: Women are becoming more vocal with their breast cancer stories and are proudly bearing the scars caused by the disease. One of the most powerful advocates I’ve seen is Ericka Hart, a sex educator who literally caught the attention of the world after showing the scars of her double mastectomy at an Afropunk event a couple years ago. In the picture, Ericka is glowing in her long box braids, cobalt blue skirt, and funky sunglasses. Since then, Hart has been educating, advocating and serving as an inspiration for those currently battling the disease and for those who have survived.

Ericka’s now-famous Afropunk photo.

Sharing these women’s stories is an important educational tool — their stories show they many ways the disease presents itself and impacts women, it shows the different options for treatment, it shows the emotional and mental impact of cancer and it shows how women can survive and thrive, despite their diagnosis.

Give of yourself — literally: One of the hallmark side-effects of chemotherapy is that women often lose their hair. Although some women come to embrace their bald heads, others would rather wear a wig, something that helps them maintain their signature look.

So, if you’ve been thinking about joining #teamcutlife, here’s a one way for you to get it done — donate your hair to be made into a wig for cancer patients. You can do it through Locks of Love, St. Baldrick’s, Pantene Beautiful Lengths or even through a local organization in your city.

If you decide to donate your hair, tag your photos with #thecutlife on IG so we can share it!

Here are some resources you can check out to learn more about breast cancer:

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation

The American Cancer Society

Metastatic Breast Cancer Network 

Centers For Disease Control Free Mammogram Program

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