By: Caroline Thomas
Cancer. We are made aware of it all the time in our personal lives, in the news, and on the web. I have to admit cancer is a scary word, but what does it technically mean? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines cancer as “a serious disease caused by cells that are not normal and that can spread to one or many parts of the body”. How are we supposed to take this technical definition and transform it into reality, mold it into our daily lives, and morph into something we can all understand and cope with? The technical definition is a good place to start when with approaching the subject of cancer, but is it what will help win the battle? The key to helping fight against cancer is to find a way to make a purpose.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime; it is an astounding fact as much as we want to believe it will not happen. In honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am opening up about why this cause is so near and dear to my heart.
It’s a difficult subject. I am humbled to share part of my personal story with you all. My mother has had breast cancer twice. TWICE. She was diagnosed at the early age of 37 and again at 39. Breast cancer can be frightening enough the first time around, but we also have to think about the possibility of recurrence. If it does return, it is likely that it will be within 5 years of the first diagnosis. It is unsettling to not know what causes it as well. For this reason, I am involved in fighting the fight. If we can raise awareness in big or small ways, we can maybe help find the cause and the cure.
My family not only supported my mother physically and emotionally in beating the disease, but we also beat it as one. When someone close to you has to go through such a difficult time, it is common for them to feel defeated at first, as well as you. The key in these situations is to be strong and find ways to make a difference. A simple card, visit in the hospital, or making a meal for someone can make a big difference.
I was young when my mom battled breast cancer and a little unsure about what it all meant, but I found ways to make a difference later in life. I joined the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha as soon as I had the chance in college. I knew their philanthropy was “Breast Cancer Education and Awareness” and I was eager to take part in it in any way I could. I immediately got involved in fundraising and helping with the big annual event for our chapter, Race to Live. I have to admit how proud I am that I raised over $3,000 in 2008 and $2,600 dollars for the cause in 2011!
Because of my personal experience with breast cancer, I think it would be beneficial to share the top 3 ways you can make a difference in a cause you find important. You do not have to donate a large sum of money out of pocket or dedicate your entire life to the cause. It is really imperative to think outside of this concept. You can make a difference on both a small and large scale; you just have to choose what works best for you.
- Choose a cause you are passionate about. Think about your friends and family. Define what has affected you, then take that cause and run with it. I guarantee you there is way to support it, big or small.
- Utilize social media. It may seem small, but social media has been popular for years and seems to continue to gain acceptance. You can be involved in simple ways like changing your profile picture to benefit a certain cause or event or sharing a link. Partners in Association Management has done this with grace and I am beyond thrilled to support their efforts in raising breast cancer awareness.
- Find ways to get involved locally. The internet can be your best friend, but word of mouth can be even better in a local setting. Tallahassee’s Cascade Park recently participated in the American Cancer Society’s event “Making Strides of Leon County.” 1,800+ participants have raised more than $77,000. The local community really came together and the results are astounding. Please visit this site if you would like to read more: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCCY14FL?pg=entry&fr_id=62535
These tips are just a few ways you can make a difference. There is always something you can do, no matter how sour the situation. Remember that lemons can be transformed into lemonade, and sometimes make an even sweeter pink lemonade.
Please visit http://ww5.komen.org/ to make a donation or find an event near you.