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5 ways you can help fight breast cancer

By Joshua Nichols, Staff writer
Published On: Oct 24 2011 12:52:32 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 01 2013 09:57:50 AM CDT
hands holding breast cancer ribbon

iStockPhoto/DawnPoland

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to make a difference when it comes to something as overwhelming as cancer.

The numbers alone can make some shrug their shoulders and question whether they can even make their impact felt.

After all, more than 1.5 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year with more than 500,000 people dying from the disease annually, according to the American Cancer Society. About 250,000 of those new cases, and 40,000 of the deaths, are from breast cancer.

Need some perspective with those numbers? One in four deaths are cancer related. There is a reason the disease is commonly referred to as "The Big C" after all.

But there are plenty of ways anyone can lend a hand and help raise awareness or funding in the fight against breast cancer. Read on to find five simple ways you could begin doing so today ...

breast cancer pink ribbon on woman's white tank top

No. 5: Make your own pink ribbon lapel pin

Sometimes even the smallest of actions can have big impacts. While what you wear on you lapel probably won't change the world, every little bit helps, as the saying goes.

With that in mind, the American Cancer Society offers up a simple way even the sewing and craft impaired can make their own pink ribbon lapel pin.

The organization suggests making pins for not only yourself, but also friends and family to help spread awareness of the fight against breast cancer. While Breast Cancer Awareness month ends with October, the pins can be worn all year round for even greater impact.

The pink ribbons honor survivors, remember those lost to breast cancer, and support the progress being made daily in the fight against the disease.

All you need to make your own pin, as seem in the American Cancer Society's instructions, is a piece of pink ribbon and a safety pin. And even the safety pin isn't necessary if you have some glue and double-sided tape.

Once you are done, maybe it's time for a walk?

Breast Cancer Survivors

No. 4: Participate in fundraising walk or run

October may be ground zero for fundraising efforts in the fight against breast cancer, but there are plenty of other events that take place year round.

One of the leaders when it comes to raising awareness and funds is Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization. The organization runs 3-Day for the Cure walks, in which participants walk 60 miles in three days, camping out along the way.

In order to participate in the event, walkers must raise $2,300 in donations.

The organization also runs the Race for the Cure, a series of 5K runs and fitness walks. The effort started in 1983 and has grown from one race with 800 people in Dallas to a global series of more than 140 races with 1.6 million people on four continents.

Net proceeds from both series of events fund innovative global breast cancer research and local community programs supporting education, screening and treatment.

After your walk, it's time to hit the store ...

pink products breast cancer yogurt and soup

No. 3: Buy pink products

If you've been in a store lately, you've likely seen the pink products pledging a portion of their proceeds toward finding a cure for breast cancer.

From your morning cup of coffee to your afternoon snack of yogurt, the things you buy every day can benefit breast cancer charities.

Consider buying Caribou Coffee's Amy's Blend for instance. From sales of the special blend, which combines citrus and melon flavors, the company will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Or you could help the effort while showering every morning. Proceeds from Crabtree & Evelyn's Pink Collection, which includes rosewater infused lotions, shower gels, soaps and more, is designed to help the company reach its goal of donating $20,000 in October to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

And then there's that yogurt snack. Yoplait's "Save Lids to Save Lives" campaign donates 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every yogurt lid turned in. The effort is expected to raise up to $2 million this year and has a raised a total of $30 million since it began.

Speaking of money ...

breast cancer ribbon fundraising money

No. 2: Hold your own fundraiser

Every little bit donated to the cause helps, but why stop with just donating your own money?

There are plenty of ways for you to organize your own fundraiser in order to multiply your own efforts and spread even more awareness.

You could take the traditional approach of bake sales, car washes and spaghetti dinners, or you could try something a little more unique. For five unique ideas you may have never considered before, check out our top five suggestions here.

And what do you do once you've got the funds raised? Pick a respected, established nonprofit charity that speaks to you personally. Some suggestions include the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization and the aforementioned Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization.

There are plenty of other organizations out there worthy of your support. Visit Charity Navigator, an independent nonprofit that evaluates and rates charities, to find a charity you can trust.

Last up, what's more valuable than money?

give, breast cancer

No. 1: Volunteer your time

Money is essential to funding research for finding a cure for breast cancer, but you can also make a big difference by giving of your time.

There are many charities out there seeking a little extra help in making a difference in the lives of those dealing with breast cancer.

Start with the American Cancer Society, which has several programs that put volunteers to work. Contact your local chapter to see what services might need your help.

Consider, for example, the Road to Recovery program, which provides transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatments they need.

Or, if you have office skills, you can donate your services to local breast cancer support groups that could use your help. And if you happen to have cosmetology skills, Look Good ... Feel Better, is always seeking volunteers to help teach women how to deal with hair loss, as well as take care of skin and nails during treatment.

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