Monday, 27 September 2010

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As many will know and perhaps some will not; October is breast cancer awareness month. This is a time of year where so many get together to push the cause and help the countless charities reach that same goal. Obviously a cure is right up there at the top, but on the way these charities are working towards more effective treatments, better aftercare and support and most of all awareness; teaching women (and men) to check themselves regularly and to know their bodies and campaigning for more government funding.

I think the effectiveness of treatment is hugely important. My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She started radiotherapy which didn't work. She then started chemo. That didn't work. Finally they operated. That didn't work. At 39 she died in late 2006 having spent the last 3 years of her life in pain. The research they're doing today means patients won't need to go through treatment after treatment without knowing whether it will work or not. How awesome would it be for them to be able to say to someone: "Radiotherapy will work for you, you'll be cancer free in 4 months"? Amazing. Aftercare is crucial; providing a support system not just for the patient but for the family and friends. There's a woman on YouTube by the name of April Capil. An amazing woman whose videos inspire cancer patients and survivors alike. She does makeup tutorials and inspirational videos and is a prime example of how care should be. One on one, life affirming and self esteem boosting.

There are misconceptions about breast cancer. Some believe that you're only at risk if a close family member has had it, though only 1 in 5 diagnosed have a significant family history. Men don't realise they can be affected too - around 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK. Sadly, 70 of those men and 12000 out of nearly 46000 women die from breast cancer each year - 1300 of those women are under 50.

There's a bright side. Despite the figures, more people are surviving breast cancer than ever before thanks to research funded by these charities. Unfortunately, the government only supply around 1/3 of the funding needed which is why the generosity of the public is so crucial. Every penny counts. Regular (monthly, quarterly, anual) donations are the best way for these organisations to survive and keep doing their work; it means they have regular funding rather than having a huge chunk of money throughout October then flat lining in November onwards.

These are a few charities I urge you to consider supporting:

Breast Cancer Care
Cancer Research UK
Breast Cancer Campaign
Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Each charity will focus on different aspects of cancer; some will focus on care, some on research. There are countless charities outside the UK as well but if I talked about those, I would be talking about something I know nothing about! Get on Google, talk to people. Cancer affects 1 in 3 people in their lifetime - whether it be through your own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a friend or family member. It's something close to everyone's heart.

Giving up a glass of wine a week will mean you can donate a tenner a month - and if you tick that little Gift Aid box (if you've paid tax in the last 3 years I believe), the charity can claim back an extra 17p per pound! Like any charitable donation, it is tax deductible.

One of my favourite lines when I was fundraising for Breast Cancer Campaign (yes, I knocked on your door and asked you for money and I'm damn proud of it!) - especially for the fellas - Do you like boobs? Yes?

Save some then.

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