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6 Ways to Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month

6 Ways to Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month—the perfect time to make preventive screenings a priority again.

And this year, it’s more important than ever. An alarming number of women and femme+ people have skipped their breast cancer screenings over the past two years. Your employees might be among that number.

Here are six creative ways you can observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month and get everyone in your company on board with making breast health and breast cancer awareness a priority.

6 Ways to Recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month

1. Encourage Employees (and Their Loved Ones) to Schedule Mammograms

2. Create a Cancer Resource Page

3. Host Lunch and Learns

4. Create a Volunteer Project

5. Host a Cancer Research Fundraiser

6. Go Pink!

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Encourage Employees (and Their Loved Ones) to Schedule Mammograms

The reason mammograms are effective screening tests for breast cancer is because they allow doctors to compare scans from test to test—ideally, year to year.

That’s tough to do when there isn’t enough data to compare. Not only that, certain types of breast cancer grow quickly – in a matter of months. Ask any doctor, and they will tell you—if there is a screening available for a deadly disease, schedule it!

We don’t want to scare you or your employees, but it’s during those lapses in screenings that cancer usually develops.

A few more stats that will get your attention:

  • About 13% of U.S. women get an invasive breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.
  • Experts are predicting 281,550 new invasive breast cancer cases in women this year – and 2,650 new invasive breast cancer cases in men.
  • Breast cancer hit a not-so-great milestone in 2021 – it’s now the most common cancer in the world.

So, if your company doesn’t already have breast cancer screening resources for employees, there’s no time like the present! Leverage your wellness platform, email system, social media channels and internal employee communication apps. Share links that explain the difference between 2-D and 3-D mammograms, ultrasound and other, more advanced, screenings. Find guest speakers and encourage people to share their stories if they’re comfortable. The more informed people are about breast cancer screening, the better-armed they are for earlier detection and treatment.

2. Help Them With Health Care Payers

At some point, one or more of your employees may have to sit in a doctor’s office and hear the “C” word.

Their understandable response will be shock, fear, confusion, anger, sadness and possibly panic. And among that response will be the question, “Will I be covered for this?”

Instead of adding to their stress by making them dig around for information, support your employees by providing access to updated and clear information from your health plan provider (a cancer care resources page can be a helpful one-stop shop.) This way, employees can easily find out what’s covered, what’s not and how best to deal with their diagnosis.

3. Host Breast Cancer-Related Lunch and Learns

When people think of breast cancer, they immediately think of women. But cis men can be diagnosed as well, not to mention nonbinary people and trans men. If there’s breast tissue, there can be breast cancer, regardless of gender.

This is just one of many reasons why employee education is so important – you may have an entire segment of employees who think breast cancer isn’t something they need to think about.

To make sure employees have a place to hear information and ask questions, why not bring back the lunch and learn? They work beautifully with in-person or remote staff arrangements, and employees can submit questions anonymously beforehand, to make sure even the “silly” or “embarrassing”—but often really important—questions get asked and answered. Plus, these events give you the opportunity to bring experts to your employees so they can learn about the latest research and other breast cancer related subjects.

Topics can include:

If you’re time-crunched, don’t feel like you have to limit these to Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Anything you do at any point of the year to remind employees about preventive care will make a difference.

4. Create a Volunteer Project

Let’s be frank: We’re living in difficult times. Your employees are frustrated, cooped up, and worried about what the coming weeks and months will bring. Employee mental health struggles are more pronounced than ever.

Fortunately, there’s a great (and free!) way to boost employee mental health: Volunteering.

A 2020 study of 70,000 subjects in the United Kingdom confirmed this. Even when accounting for participants’ initial state of well-being before volunteering, the results revealed that people who volunteer once a month report better mental health than those who volunteer infrequently or not at all.

Unite your employees in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by creating challenges where employees participate in one or more volunteer projects to help cancer patients. Whether you choose a single project, allow employees to choose their own, or encourage participation in multiple projects, here are some ideas:

Assemble National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) HOPE Kits

HOPE Kits are like hugs in a box. Patients receive care packages with items like socks to keep their feet warm during chemotherapy treatments, lotions for the neuropathy most patients experience in their hands and feet, lip balm for chapped lips from various treatments, a journal and even a bracelet.

Create Your Company’s Signature Cancer Care Packages

Do one better and create signature care packages that include apparel, toiletries, journaling resources and other items for your employees or their loved ones who are suffering with breast cancer.

Write Letters to Breast Cancer Patients

Who doesn’t love a handwritten letter? Most people have forgotten they exist, so it’s even more special to receive one.

A letter writing campaign to employees or their families who are struggling with breast cancer is a great way to provide encouragement and a reminder that your entire team is rooting for recovery. These letters can provide a welcome boost anytime the patient is feeling low.

As an alternative to sending letters, create an online honor board for employees dealing with breast cancer. Let employees tag them and post encouraging messages to keep them focused on their health.

5. Host a Breast Cancer Research Fundraiser

You know that annual anchor challenge we keep talking about? How about combining it with a breast cancer research fundraiser?

Whether it’s the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure or your own curated event, this is a great way to bring employees together for a great cause. Employees can create teams and proceeds can go toward scientific research to cure breast cancer.

6. Go Pink!

We’ve listed plenty of helpful, actionable things your company can now do to improve breast cancer awareness, screening and support among employees.

But what about beyond your own organization? The popular pink ribbons, banners, and other public displays of support and awareness are important as well, helping to open up important conversations about breast health with your customers, partners and social media followers.

One smart move is to liaise with your marketing team to come up with some social media post templates or other outreach initiatives that can combine the attention-grabbing power of the pink ribbon with helpful information and advice that turns simple awareness into true action.

Breast Cancer Awareness That Makes a Difference

Consider the entire point of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – it’s not to raise awareness about the month, but about the reason: The mothers, cousins, friends, family members … and yes, co-workers whose lives are affected by breast cancer.

By using your corporate wellness program to help your staff book screenings, stay informed about their options, and support each other, you can make a real difference this month and every month.

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